Many are called
A while back I had the honor to be on jury duty for a week. Well maybe honor isn’t the correct word. Perhaps I should say it was a distinction. No, it was more of an experience. I guess that’s not quite right either. I have it. It was more like a great big pain in my backside.
What I will say is, it has given me a new respect for my ancestors who lived in kingdoms. Sure, it was unfair, corrupt, and subject to the whims of one man, but think about it. The system was efficient, didn’t bother people’s work schedules, and if you paid a few extra goats for a favor, who cares. Goats can breed themselves. Admittedly, there was that whole torture chamber thing, but there’s downsides to everything. I’m not saying it was perfect, but once you’ve sat for six hours in a small room with nothing to do, the mind wanders.
Many more don’t know why they are called
I know this blog is read all over the globe and a few planets outside the solar system. So perhaps I should explain the American jury system. The Idea is that we are not judged by a judge. That’s kind of funny considering their title. One would think it would be a judge’s job to judge, like it’s a baker’s job to bake, but no. The judge’s job is to oversee protocol. That means they make sure everything is done right. Mr. Ohh! would call that an overseer. Then again, what do I know about the legal system? I don’t even have any traffic tickets. Does this make me a good citizen? Not really. It makes me a fast talker when someone catches me. My criminal record, however, is not the point.
The juror’s job is to juro. Actually, the correct word is, adjudicate. Which is an extra-long way to say, juro. A bunch of jurors are called a jury. It’s one of those funky plurals you find in the English language, like a bunch of mouses are called mice. There’s a song about this by the late, great, Allan Sherman called, One Hippopotami. You should listen to it if you get the chance. It won’t explain anything but it’s funny.
The idea of a jury is; Instead of being judged by one person, you are judged by a bunch of your peers. I actually never understood this. I asked this question in my high school government class. “If you’ve been convicted of a crime. I understand you can no longer serve on a jury.” He agreed with a smile. “Therefore, if you a thief, and you want a jury of your peers, where are they going to find twelve thieves to hear the case?” Mr. Ames just sighed, left the room and promptly resigned. Well, it made sense to me. My wife later explained it to me. In court everyone is innocent. Innocent people can be on a jury. I must admit I was relieved. I was afraid I was going to have to go out and rob a bank if I got on a bank robbery case.
Still more try to get out of being called
Where I live thirty days before you are needed as a juror, you are sent a letter. This gives you a chance to find a reason to get out of it, catch a debilitating disease, or seek citizenship in another country. If you choose not to do any of these things, you go downtown to a large room with a couple hundred other folks and have jury duty. They tell you to bring a book, or electronic device because you will be waiting for a long time. What they don’t tell you is that it doesn’t matter what you bring because you’ll never be comfortable enough to take advantage of it. The chairs that are provided are designed to be comfortable for about three seconds. You end up reading a sentence, fidgeting for ten minutes reading the sentence over again, getting up and walking around then sitting down to read the sentence a third time. You may not accomplish the book but you do get your exercise. I just sat on the floor against the wall and slept, eliminating the whole process.
Once called they have to tell you what to do
Next, you have to be orientated. A real judge comes in to the front of the room and talks to all of us. The first thing she did was to smile and ask, “Does anyone really want to be here? Ha Ha” One guy actually raised his hand and screamed, “I wanna fry somebody! I wanna be on the jury that sends a guy to the chair and then I’m gonna be interviewed by Oprah.” A nice police officer came and took him away. I sincerely don’t think he was unbiased. Honestly, I would like to serve on a jury. It seems like an interesting thing to do. However, if black ops are going to haul you away for saying you do, I’ll just keep my mouth shut.
Next the lady judge tried to pump us up by telling us that the jury system is the only time that our government transfers power back to the people. “Wow”, I thought. Then I remembered, I was only being paid twenty bucks. They may have given some of the power back but they were still holding on to that cash.
Lastly, she told us that we may not do anything all day, but the fact that we were there was an incentive for the various courts to solve their disputes because a jury could be seated in just a few minutes to solve it for ‘em. This I mostly believe, except for that few minutes thing. When I walked in that morning there were eleven cases, but because we were sitting there, nine were solved without us moving. Then came the other two.
Few are chosen
They needed twelve jurors for a criminal case so the asked thirty of us to go into court. Well not court exactly more like the court’s broom closet. That’s right, we were taken from a room where everyone had an uncomfortable chair to a room where there were chairs for less than half of us. The doors were closed and we were told to wait. For An Hour! Why? We didn’t know. All they said was it was a point of law. Once we did go into the court room everybody was smiling at us as if they were my father and he was going to try to make me do something I didn’t want to do.
But even fewer are chosen twice
Then the judge talked and told us are jobs and we shouldn’t feel bad if one of the lawyers sent us home. It wasn’t personal, but the questions they asked certainly were. They wanted know about my childhood, if I ever knew anyone who grew marijuana, what was my mother’s favorite nail color, and what I did to provoke Capn’ Blood into scratching my arm so badly. After all that the defense attorney said, “Hmmmm I don’t want Mr. Ohh! on the jury.” The judge told me to leave and I was relegated to the uncomfortable chairs again.
This is American Democracy in action, and it’s messing with my head!
Thank you for laughing and Please read a little longer
Thank you all for laughing with me, but I need to be serious. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is a genetic disease which rots the liver and lungs. There is no cure. The only help for people is to have a weekly infusion of proteins to stop the spread. For the next few months I will be taking all my proceeds and donating them to the Alpha-1 Foundation who are searching for a cure to this horrible malady. You can give here or for more information go to Alpha-1.org Thanks for supporting world laughter, and finding a cure. Laugh On