I started jury duty last week. Well...I started the process of jury duty. I just assumed I would sit there for the 8 hours required; read or be on the computer for the entire time, without being called in to go through voir dire, then leave and be done for a year. Boy was I wrong.
Prior to going to the courthouse, I made sure I had nothing in my purse or on my being that would set off any bells or sirens when going through the security check. I’m not sure why, but I did a survey of everything as if I would be flying the friendly skies. You would think I was leaving for a month with all the stuff I packed into my purse: water, protein bars, crackers, 5 hour energy drinks, [because for sure, I was going to need a few of those]; an extra sweater, magazines, a book. It appeared as if I was going on some expedition to the North Pole, because my bag was filled with the entire contents of my house. But I made sure I didn’t have any liquids over 3 ounces, nothing sharp, clean socks on my feet, my prescription drugs in the correct bottles, etc, etc. Then I remembered that it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t have to strip down, and I was allowed to bring in my coffee mug, a bottle of water, food, blah blah blah. The superior court is much less stringent then the airlines. Go figure. But for some reason, I went into panic mode going into a government building. It’s a good thing I don’t work there because I would need to take a valium to go into my office every day. I feel like you have to be on your best behavior so as not to get arrested for something. I was just going for jury duty yet I felt like I was going to be patted down, questioned for murder and sent off to prison; so I took my tweezers out of my make up bag.
I have received a summons for jury duty every year for the last 15 or so years. Whenever I go, I never run into anyone I know and by the 6th hour of sitting there alone, I'm ready to jump out of my skin from boredom, whether I’m reading a good book or not. The plastic squeaking chairs they provide are about as comfortable as lying naked on a bed of nails. By the time I leave, I walk out of there hunched over like a 90 year old woman; unless my numb, cramped legs give out on me first.
But this time I was looking forward to being alone. I was excited about having a day off work, starting a great book, listening to my iPod, writing my blog, and relaxing at the courthouse, comfortable or not. All alone in a sea of strangers and happy as a little clam. But as soon as I had gotten into the room with all the prospective jurors, signed in, and started walking to a seat isolated in the back of the room, I heard someone call my name. You have got to be kidding me. And it wasn't just some acquaintance I could say my hellos to and walk away; it was a friend of my daughters, who never lets a second go by without having diarrhea of the mouth. She called me over and asked me to sit with her. Really? Do I have to? Please NO (I whined to myself). And the minute I sat down, off we went on a never ending roller coaster of conversation. You know how those 20 somethings talk...‘like, um, ya know’ over and over and over. I was so happy when they called my name to report to a courtroom. My eardrums would get a chance to stop banging. I’d rather sit in the courtroom listening to the attorneys and judge than chatting it up with Napoleon Dynamite.
You know how I said I was looking forward to being alone in a sea of strangers? And you know how I said I never have run into anyone I know in the 15 plus years of jury duty? And you know how there are some days you're just not in a chatty mood? Well...forget all that. As soon as I entered the room where the jury would be selected, there were 3 more people I knew. Possible jury members on the same trial I would not be sitting in on. [Because I always get dismissed but have to sit through the process anyway, unfortunately.] So much for my time of introspection and solitude. Unknowingly, I had sat down next to one of those people I knew, and then discovered we were acquaintances. And once she realized who I was, she didn't shut up through the entire interrogation of the 18 people being questioned at the time. She kept commenting on all the questions the attorney was asking of them. It was like sitting in a movie theater where someone behind you keeps blabbing and narrating through the whole thing. "Will you please shut the f**k up, for crying out loud." I didn’t really say that but I can't tell you how much I wanted to turn to her and grab her lips shut. You would think my ignoring her would be a small hint. Uh uh. Nope. Not at all. She just kept blabbing away. I was quite embarrassed [embarrassment through association, I guess] because everyone kept looking back to see who it was. "It's not me, it's not me. Honest."
One of the other prospective jurors was my orthopedic surgeon. He was excused because he was needed in surgery the following week. Pshaw...what kind of excuse is that? Physician shit. I was thinking I could just ask the judge to discuss my issues with the doctor so he could vouch that the pain in my neck and back was good enough for me to get out of sitting on the jury. “Um, Judge…sidebar please? In your chambers?” But I didn't think that would go over too well in a court of law.
The other person I knew was a trainer at my gym. Well, she USED to be. And if you had seen her you would understand when I say USED to be. I don't think she's seen the inside of a gym in about 10 years. She’s definitely seen the inside of every candy wrapper though. I can’t imagine she’s still in that line of work. And if she is, she may want to re-think her career choice along with thinking about practicing what she was preaching. Geesh.
So there I sat, listening to the attorneys voir diring (not sure that’s really the correct usage) the prospective jurors. All day Friday and again on Monday morning until finally they decided who they were keeping and who they were dismissing. To my amazement…they kept people I thought for sure were out the door. One was an ex-drug addict with prior arrests and jail time. You think he doesn’t have a small, little, teensy, weensy bias against the peace officers and the people of the court? I know he said he doesn’t…but seriously?
Once they had weeded out the rejects, they needed only one more person as the alternate. So they called up three more prospects. And there it was… “Will Jaime Perlov please have a seat up front?” HOLY SHIT! ME? Really? I’ve mentioned in previous blogs how petrified I am to speak in front of people. I mentioned in this blog how petrified I was to be in a government building for fear of getting accused of some major crime. Can you imagine how f**king mortified I was when they called me up? My worst fears coming true. I know, with no doubt in my mind, that you could see my pulse bulging out of my neck like some alien, and the bright, beet red blush on my cheeks. I’m surprised they didn’t have to scrape me off the floor. I could barely speak when I had to recite my name, where I was from, occupation, etc. They couldn’t have picked from the other sixty f**king people sitting there waiting?
I had memorized what I would say if I was called upon, so I gave my reasons, albeit with my voice jittering like someone was violently shaking me, but not one sentence came out of my mouth the way I had planned. And although my intentions came across the way I wanted, the defense attorney did everything she could to get me to say I would be able to give a fair verdict for the defendant. Well........NO I CAN’T. She asked me the same question worded 5 different ways and she got the same answer from me. “I can NOT be fair in my judgment.” I won’t go into my reasons for fear of offending some people and hurting others, but I used to be married to a cop. Enough said.
Every year that I am called for jury duty I give the same reasons and they dismiss me. So wouldn’t it make sense to not summons me back anymore? Wouldn’t it save everyone time and money? Aside from the fact that my attention span is the size of gnat’s brain cell? I know I wouldn’t want me on a jury if I was accused of some crime. The other jurors would have to recite everyone’s testimonies to me 18 times for me to absorb one tenth of them. So hopefully, not having me on the jury, and having the ex-drug addict who has no biases towards anybody (wink, wink), along with some other extremely unqualified, not very well educated jurors, the accused will get a fair trial. I’m so glad my life doesn’t rely upon others to judge. Although in our everyday life…aren’t we constantly being judged by some-one for some-thing?