Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Jury Rigged

Please forgive the double post. Not that this really is one, being that this is a refined version of the post below. It's the finished Vermilion column that I hope will appear in the Feb. 2 issue. This post and its predecessor make for an interesting comparison as to what can be left in and what I choose to leave out.

Usually when I want $25, I just write another column for The Vermilion. Other days, I decide to earn it by getting randomly called to jury duty. On the pleasant Monday morning of Jan. 24, I spent the day gloriously exercising my Constitutional muscle as a prospective juror. Blind justice, indeed!

After entering the airport-like waiting room, I joined hundreds of other jury hopefuls (and not-so-hopefuls) in filling out the standard form. Hmmm....Age: 24...never been married...no children...have never been convicted of a crime...have never served on a jury...Man, am I perfect for jury duty or what? Crud...

While waiting, I rummaged for a good magazine to read, gravitating toward the Newsweek on the table. While waiting to be sworn in by the justice, I got to bone up on the latest issues of the week, such as the second presidential debate. I'll say this: if John Kerry wants to win the election, he's going to have to relax his personality and continue to hammer Bush on the issues.

When I got bored with that, I did what I always do in a room full of people: scoped out the babes! Now, keep one thing in mind: this is jury duty. Not exactly Venice Beach (or even the Mall formerly known as Acadiana). Still, I managed to find three or four really good-looking young women. But what are you going to say to them? "Come here often?" "Gee! I'm also not a felon!"?

After the 11 a.m. orientation and swear-in, we were allowed to leave for lunch and had to report back by 1:15 p.m. "Not enough time to do anything and too much time to do nothing," I thought to myself. Of course, this was no mass dismissal; we were asked to line up as the letters of our last names were called so that we could receive juror badges on our way out.

"Z-Y-X-W-V..." "U-T-S-R-Q-P..." After 30 very slow minutes of that, I geared up to grab my badge. Then, as if to taunt me, they flip-flopped: "A-B-C-D-E..." Nooo!! Several naps later I finally heard, "All right, last but not least, M-N-O!" “M”s are by far the most screwed alphabetical section. “A”s are usually at the front, except when “Z”s are cut a break and allowed to go first. But no one, and I mean no one, ever starts with “M.” But sometimes they finish with it!

After I got back from my considerably narrowed lunch break (which I spent at the nearby public library), I walked through the metal detector at the courthouse entrance. I languished behind somebody for several seconds before the security woman told me step back behind the detector: "I'm sorry," she said. "I wasn't paying attention." Yes, she actually said that!

After more waiting in the jury-pool room, the justice announced that 35 Chosen Ones would potentially decide justice for one of two cases on the docket this week. Yes, friends, I beat the odds: Juror 285 moved on up!

The next four hours were a presumably top-secret affair. Throughout the questioning process, I found myself hypnotized by the court reporter, trying to figure out how she cranks out an entire sentence with seven keystrokes. Intimidating. Now I know how people feel when I interview them with a tape recorder.

Ultimately, 10 out of the 35 made the cut. Not me. I did myself in by knowing three of the witnesses, admitting that I am more sympathetic to individuals over corporations, and basically by being myself. I think a fellow reject said it best in the elevator on the way down: "That's what you get for having an opinion."

Guilty as charged.


Joe said...

You checked out the babes AFTER you read the magazines?!?!? Man, you are much more enthusiastic about current affairs than I am...

Ian McGibboney said...

Damn, Joe, that DOES make me look bad...

In my defense, though, after I grabbed the magazine I moved up to the front of the room, where several babes could be seen. They tend to congregate for whatever reason.

jetbanana said...

Knowing witnesses helped to get you out of jury duty? I protest!!! Once when I was called, I admitted that I had taught the defense attorney and was friends with the prosecutor. That didn't seem to matter. I finally was excused because I was having 5 houseguests for the duration of the trial.