Day Thirty

On November 30, 2011 by Eden M. Kennedy

Today I had the strange pleasure of going in for jury duty. I’ve been on call since Monday and I got to that irrationally casual mindset where I thought the whole week would sail by without me getting to sit in a fluorescent-lit room with a bunch of other registered voters and licensed drivers. Then this morning, when I called in to the jury hotline, they told me my number was up and to be there at 12:30 p.m., which was right in the middle of lunchtime at Jackson’s school where I was helping to fill bowls with udon noodles and baking sheets with almond cookies. (It was fancy. Jackson hated it. He is not a “soup person.”)

I was late to the juror orientation but I got there just in time for the video. The last time I got this far in the jury selection process was before Jackson was born so I don’t remember the orientation video being so relentlessly upbeat about what it means to serve on a jury. It’s not all just crime scene photos and night terrors! No, it’s seeing the judicial process at work, helping to make decisions that no one person should have the power to make alone, looking deep inside yourself to find the truth, and making lifelong friends with other jurors. It’s like criminal justice summer camp. (Or business deals gone terribly wrong summer camp, or one long let’s-just-cut-this-baby-in-half high school reunion.)

Then the judge came in. He wasn’t wearing robes, he was in a nice dark suit with a yellow tie and he seemed very kind and wise and I liked him right away. He thanked us all for the sacrifices we’d made to come there, but apparently the sight of all of us potential jurors gathering had made someone on the prosecution or the defense realize that shit was getting real, that their case was actually going to trial, and they decided to settle. The judge said that this sort of thing happens a lot. He said he was glad to see so many happy faces reacting to his news, then he apologized to those who were looking forward to serving on a jury, then he said he was open for Q & A and everyone laughed, and then he wished us happy holidays and we all applauded.

But after watching the video (and discovering I had no idea I was so susceptible to woodenly-acted government-produced films) and listening to the judge (who I suddenly wished were my uncle), I actually was a little disappointed. Not that my life needs to be upended by a trial at the moment, but I feel like a seed was planted in me that hopes someday, before my mind gives out completely, I will be on a jury. But not for something awful; and not for some squabble about property. I think my ideal trial would be if someone famous did something funny and then somebody who was watching it died laughing, but the person who died was really old and so they died perfectly happy, and the dead person’s relatives were all very nice but they felt the needed to sue the famous person so that the dead person’s widow wouldn’t lose her house or something, and at first the famous person is all NO WAY because everyone always wants a piece of her or him, but then s/he sees that it’s the right thing to do and accepts the verdict gracefully. So, some sort of feel-good comedy civil suit. I’m just putting it out there, universe.

And thus ends our regularly-scheduled National Blog Posting Month. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have, which is to say intermittently and with sudden unpredictable spurts of commitment to keeping track of my life and my thoughts. You’re welcome, posterity.



20 Responses to “Day Thirty”

  • One of my regrets about living abroad is not getting to serve jury duty. I’ve been called a few times, and I always feel like I’m failing at my civic duty. I’m glad you came close – and that just the IDEA of your smarts in the room was enough to make the people settle out of court.

    I like soup but noodle soup is too tricksy.

  • And thank you for the pleasure of having your posts to read each day.

  • This is probably a little hypocritical, because I’ve never gotten it together to do NaBlo myself, but I always look forward to it because I know YOU’RE going to be posting something everyday. So thanks! Maybe next year…

  • I did a 30-day stint on a grand jury and it was one of the most amazing experiences I had while living in New York. Grand Jury was ideal for my anxiety: we didn’t actually have to decide the guilt or innocence of anyone, just whether or not there was enough evidence to send them to trial. I learned a lot about the law, so much so that we were coaching the lawyers when they got muddled over a particular point by the end. Also, the cross-section of New Yorkers I met were people I might never get to interact with in such an intimate way in any other aspect of life. There was a woman who used to dance for Eartha Kitt, a nurse who made a mean flan, a woman who was an East Village bohemian in the 70s, a young assistant in the mayor’s office, a woman who organized a royal foundation ball, an accountant whose brother is a character actor, and a guy who seemed to know a heck of a lot about pot. The 23 of us represented most colors, ages, economic strata, and points on the political spectrum. For four hours a day for an entire month, we were in a room together, discussing (often heatedly) ethics with people who sometimes couldn’t be more different from us (at least within NYC). There were some horrible things we had to hear about (in 35 cases, we heard everything from stolen gum to child molestation), but I felt better afterwards knowing that if I were ever to end up on the other side of the table, innocent and scared, there would be good citizens looking out for me. To those who try to avoid jury duty: I don’t get it. Wouldn’t you want someone like you looking out for your rights?

  • What David said. I’m sad. I will miss the daily BloPos.

  • I was on a grand jury once for a child abuse case. It was a long case that took several weeks. The last day we unanimously voted to indict, but one of the jurors didn’t show, and the judge ended up throwing it out b/c all the jurors weren’t there the last day.

  • Thanks, Eden. I really appreciated knowing I had you and Fluid Pudding to count on for some daily procrastination…and along the way if I happened to find some wisdom, entertainment, or information, well then I considered it an added bonus. Have a great day.

  • I was supposed to be on a jury where the man died after getting a penile implant. The doctor had warned him that he was grossly overweight but he did it anyway. They settled while we were on our way up for jury selection. I decided then and there that I would not die for sex. I was also disappointed, because if I was going to have to drive downtown and sit next to a very agressive Mary Kay lady I wanted something more for my time.

  • If I too could make a request to be on the same jury as the one you described that would be great. Nothing too horrible. But you get the experience of it all. Kind of like having to go to the emergency because you have a very small cut on the tip of your finger that needs a stitch or two. You’ve had the experience of an injury…but all’s good.

  • I made it through most of voir dire and the newbie prosecutor used her discretionary ding powers to bump me. I think it was because I teach law school and the judge kept asking me, “So, how’s the prosecutor doing so far?” and I was all, “Meh.”

    There was an old guy who clearly made it his life’s work to serve on juries. When the judge asked if any of us would have trouble being impartial in a case involving a gang member, the old guy said, “Not at all. Why, when we were kids growing up in LA, we used to have a little gang. We’d ride our bikes around the neighborhood, but we weren’t doin’ nothin’ wrong. We weren’t bad kids . . . ” If you ask me, though, anyone who clothespins the king of hearts to his bicycle spokes is up to no good.

  • You guys are awesome. I might just keep posting through December.

  • Your dream trial sounds like it should star Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I would TOTALLY watch that!

  • I just served on a jury for a civil trial last month and I thought it was super interesting. Everything from the trial itself, with the various witnesses etc. and then the jury deliberation process. My biggest takeaway, though, was that if you’re gonna sue someone you better be damn sure you don’t have any skeletons in your closet that could remotely affect the case, because the defendant’s lawyer will FIND THEM.

  • I sat on on civil trial once (in SB!) and was determined to do my best, and was pleased after 20 years of false starts I’d finally be on a jury! I came away from that hating corporations with a white phosphorus intensity, which was an unexpected bonus. And I came pretty close to being seated on one of the high-profile knife murder trials we had last year. That one I did not want, gotta say.

  • Hi Eden — your writing reminds me of a gunslinger. I don’t know why. I’ve only been called to jury duty once (I always somehow managed to get out of it), but want to share it with you bc I do think you’ll laugh and I’m trying to woo you. My writing will remind you of a saloon patron with missing teeth.

  • You just want to be that One Holdout Juror who proclaims the defendant is innocent, and then you take 16 hours to monologue about why, and then you turn one other juror to your side, and then all the others groan and order pizza.

    And you feel righteous.

    I see right through you.

  • Comments are closed over on Finslippy.

    I just gotta say the two of you looked so uncomfortable in the Clorox video wherein Bethenny goes on and on and on and on–I couldn’t bear to finish watching it. Oh to read your minds. . . . . . =)

  • I have been dreading the end. I’m not making this up. I love what November does to you.

    Ask the universe! While you are at it, can you ask the universe if I could be mildly injured in some way but somehow receive a ginormous settlement that will pay off all my bills and then some?

    That never works.

    I am so happy to hear about this kind and wise judge for some reason.

  • If I served on a jury I know I’d spend the whole time sweating and squirming about all I wasn’t getting done. I’d like to one day though…hopefully when I’m retired and my kids are grown, but I still have teeth.