Craig Just as I was wondering what to do with myself now that basketball season is over, I was called for jury duty. Again.
Let me state for the record that I don't mind fulfilling my civic responsibility. I consider it an honor, a privilege and only a minor pain in the butt. I mean that literally. The chairs in the jurors' box aren't exactly Barcaloungers, you know. (Oh, but what a fabulous idea! Note for courthouse suggestion box: Replace uncomfy chairs with leather recliners, preferably the ones with cup holders in the arms. Throw in some buckwheat neck pillows and chenille lap blankets. You'll have folks knocking your door down, begging to serve!) But I digress :
Here's my objection: I have been summoned for jury duty three times in the past 15 years while my husband has not been called once. Not once! Your Honor, I implore you: Where is the justice in that?
Obviously, I've been overruled. But, so help me God, all I'm trying to do is spread the jury duty joy.
The first time I received a summons in the mail, I was like a kid on Christmas Eve. A big fan of courtroom dramas on the silver screen, I couldn't wait to have a ringside seat for all the excitement. I looked forward to fiery exchanges between witness and prosecutor, like in "A Few Good Men":
"You want answers?"
"I think I'm entitled to them."
"You want answers?"
"I want the truth!"
"YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"
I got goose bumps just thinking about it. And if the DA happened to look like Tom Cruise, so much the better.
Reporting promptly at the courthouse on my designated day, I was questioned briefly by counsel from both sides. To my surprise, I was selected to be one of 12 "peers" who would decide the fate of the defendant - a man accused of knocking a "friend" down a flight of stairs and stealing hundreds in cash from his wallet as he lay on the ground, unconscious. I was thrilled!
"Oooh, this will be good," I thought, wishing I had some buttered popcorn.
Minutes later, a decidedly un-Hollywood, fledgling attorney examined her first witness, reading questions in a monotonous voice from the legal pad she clutched in both hands. At that moment, I realized that courtroom dramas were, in reality, not very dramatic.
There was plenty of drama, however, in the deliberation room. While 11 of us believed the case to be open and shut - guilty on all counts - there was a lone dissenter. Adamantly arguing that we had not resolved the "reasonable doubt" issue in his mind, he must have fancied himself Juror No. 8 in "Twelve Angry Men," I thought.
Thirty-two hours later when he finally and suddenly relented (after a long and apparently revelatory trip to the men's room), I was convinced that what the guy felt most strongly about was getting out of work for a few days.
I'm 15 years older now and more realistic - more wary - about jury duty. I dread sitting for hours on end (my foot falls asleep), and I worry there won't be enough bathroom breaks. Missed work translates into long nights at the computer.
Then there's the little matter of my short-term memory. Did you know that note taking is not allowed in the jury box? Oh sure, you can refer to the transcript at the end of the trial but - hello! - I can't get through an ordinary day without my notepad. How am I supposed to remember who said what to whom about whose objections?
Still, when I called the jurors' hot line this week, I was disappointed to learn there were no trials on the docket. Hopefully, next week will be busier, my number will be called, and I'll be privy to some real courtroom drama.
And, if it pleases the court, someone will have taken my Barcalounger suggestion to heart, and counsel for the defense will be a dead ringer for Tom Cruise.