Monday, March 06, 2006

Jury duty: The Further Adventures of Stupendous Rack Girl and Well Hung Man

This is Part 2. Part 1 is here.

Moving right along, Southern Lady talks about the $10 we get paid for coming to jury duty. We can "waive" it if we want. Then the court keeps the money and uses it to buy jury stuff. That's how we got these new chairs last year, she says. I guess they aren't 20-year-old chairs after all. But I'll keep my $10, thank you very much. Southern Lady tells us that there's no smoking or chewing allowed. Chewing? I wonder if they have much of a problem with that. She mentions no chewing again. I guess they do.

Next, we're assigned to groups of 12. The groups are named after dogs, Poodle, Lab, Mutt, and so on. I suppose it's because they're easy to remember. It might be a bit of a strain on your typical juror if the groups had more difficult names, like Group A, or Group 1, or something complicated like that. We're called at random by first name and juror number to get assigned to a group. Stupendous Rack Girl is one of the first people called. I learn her secret identity: it's Jessica. I wonder if her last name is Rabbit; there's more than a passing resemblance. She's Juror Number 33. If she'd been Juror Number 69, I suppose I would have died of sheer comedic happiness. She's is in the Poodle group. I'm in the Mutt group. I ask her if she's ever seen Lady and the Tramp. OK, I don't really do that either.

Southern Lady finishes talking. She's going to show us a video so we can learn all about serving on a jury. The video begins with a shot of the Statue of Liberty. The narrator informs us that America is a diverse country, that Our Court System is fair to everyone, and that juries come from all of us. The guy sitting next to me, Peter, Number 8, is watching his own DVD again. Very conscientious. The video's narrator comes on screen. "Hi," he says, "I'm Tim O'Brian. You might remember me from such films as Democracy: Another Name for Mob Rule and Washington, DC: It's Not Just a Slum, It's Our Nation's Capital." OK, he doesn't really say the part about his other films. But he really does say "Hi, I'm Tim O'Brian."

Tim tells us about the Declaration of Independence, which is The Cornerstone Of Our Democracy, and the Constitution, which is The Blueprint For Our Whole System Of Government. Then he introduces us to Roberto and Mary. They were "people just like you and me, until something they didn't expect happened." Gosh, I'm on the edge of my seat. Roberto's a harmless-looking little Hispanic guy. Mary's a rather snotty-looking middle-aged white woman. She gets called for jury duty. She whines about it over the telephone. The nameless official-sounding voice on the other end tells her she's "obligated" to serve. Mary decides to Do The Right Thing and serves on a jury. She explains all about being a juror. Jurors, she tells us, decide cases based on "the information they are given, which is called the 'evidence.'" "Witnesses" are "invited by the court" to "tell facts they know about the case."

But it turns out Roberto's not so harmless after all. He's been arrested for battery, and Mary's on his jury. Um, did nobody producing the video notice that making the Hispanic guy the defendant and putting the white lady on the jury kind of reinforces racist stereotypes? Apparently not. But it's all good. Roberto gets to have a lawyer and an interpreter, and I'm sure Mary is fair. My attention wanders. The video ends.

It's time to wait until they call us up for a trial. Stupendous Rack Girl gets up to go to the restroom. She looks good from behind too. Not stupendous, but good. I read my book. I try to watch CNN, but I'm too far away from the TV. I get up and go to the vending machine and get a soda. On the way back, I get a glimpse of Peter, Number 8's, DVD player. He's watching the Montel Williams Show. Yeah. Why would anyone watch Montel Williams on DVD? Out of all the DVDs in all the DVD stores in all the world, why does Peter, Number 8, bring a Montel Williams DVD to watch on jury duty? One of life's little mysteries.

At 10:10, Southern Lady stands up and updates us on the status of the trials. One is still on, and the other is negotiating some stuff, but she's not real sure what's going on. I read; I stare into space. Stupendous Rack Girl comes back again, faithfully following her breasts into the room. I read; I stare into space; I watch Stupendous Rack Girl, unfortunately only from behind now. At 10:22, Southern Lady gets up again. A defendant has failed to appear, so that trial is off. No one had bothered to call down to Southern Lady and tell her; she'd had to call them. She's a little miffed, but in a polite Southern Lady kind of way. The other trial is still negotiating something or other; if it doesn't go ahead, we can go home.

More waiting. More reading, more staring, more watching. At 10:45, Southern Lady takes a phone call. This may be it. Everyone tries to hear what she's saying. OK, she says, OK, I'll tell them. Everyone starts packing up before she's even off the phone. Southern Lady gets up and tells us that the other case is going to go ahead, but before a judge, not a jury. Nobody's listening. All we care about is that we can leave. It's a bit of an anti-climax, but we jurors all feel good to know that our ordeal is over our service to our community is complete, for the next 24 months anyway. God Bless America.

1 comment:

  1. I was snort laughing!

    I love the Troy McClure reference. I was once in a ward with a family named McClure and to this day, I can't think of them without a voice in my head saying, "Hi! I'm Harry McClure. You may remember me from such wards and Bonneville 2nd."

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