Easier than writing lots of individual emails


Ok, though I rarely post these days, i MUST record some debrief thoughts about my 1st day in jury selection.  🙂  If ever I was in a sitcom/Office type show… it was yesterday (with the promise of more thrills to come today!)
I’ll break this down in categories and then comedy

-I’ve already had to jack my schedule and lose income, so why not totally commit and have a GREAT time
-I will be ready and willing to meet people and observe and take everything in through the lens of the gospel and a split screen of Seinfeld
-I actually want to be selected, but I will totally honest in the questions asked of me
-Government system, county courthouse:  GUARANTEED fun for me!
-Don’t Waste My Jury Duty!

-show up for the 10:30am call time
-fill out some paperwork
-sit in a packed holding room with 50+/- other jurors (it’s awkwardly hushed like a library)
-wait for a LONG time: read all the literature that was on the chairs re: the process etc,  make small talk with a few neighbors
-Around 11:10am, the courtaid gives a mono-tone FAQ presentation that is all the same info that I just read
-A few people deem it necessary to give their whole life story when asked ‘Will anyone need to postpone?’ (my sitcom ideas started to bubble)
-The courtaid then has us watch a government video about how great it is to be a juror and a reiteration of the rules I read and that the aid gave in her presentation.  So, you get the info 3 times (at this point I was reading my book about New Zealand).  It was like when you fly a lot and you don’t pay attention to the ‘inflate your vest, put oxygen on yourself and then children’ video.
-Earthquake drill when she said ‘this is a drill’.  We all leaned over in out chairs and covered our heads.  VERY effective in a jolter, I’m sure.
-Around 11:45am, she tells us we have a lunch break until 1:15pm (?).
-Roll call at 1:20pm
-Sit in the room at wait
-Around 3pm, we all are called into the court room with ‘the accused’, judge welcomes us, tells us the type of case it will be and the duration it’s expected to be after the jury is selected (5 days, excluding deliberations)
-18 juror ID#s are called up into the ‘jury box’ and it begins…
-All 18 of us have to answer a set of the same questions, then the judge reads the law and the courts’ expectations of us, then he pulls out a HUGE book and asks us all about 42 million questions…very arduous and VERY sitcom
-When the judge is done, we take a 15 minute break and come back and the lawyers begin: defense 1st & prosectution last
-They were strapped for time since we’re supposed to break at 4:30pm
-Lawyers/Judge took a ‘sdiebar’ in the hall and came back and dismissed 3 jurors.  Those three were replaced with one of my ‘cast of characters’ lady (more to follow) and then we broke for the day, instructed to return at 1:30pm on Friday
They still need to get through about 30+ jurors today.  And, since i’m already in the box, I will stay there (as juror #6) until I’m moved or dismissed …it’s kind of like being on stage for several hours at a time

MY CAST OF CHARACTERS (highlights only)
These are the impressions made upon me as my morning unfolded…

1) the slight framed, short haired, government hating, possibly a lesbian, woman who felt entitled to point out EVERY perceived or real deficiency in the process.  she was reading a fat book called ‘the political brain’ and she had a long black ‘grim reaper/Matrix’ like coat .  During some of the group Q/A time with the aid, she asked VERY accusatory (toward government failure) and loaded questions that were nonchalantly deflected by the courtaid (who is actually pretty cool and funny…and has heard it ALL before).  What shall we call this 1st character?  APL? (angry possible libertarian?… like an angry elf, but she’s not an elf).  Her game is  intelligence coupled with angry sarcasm.  After a few interactions with her, i smiled to myself and thought ‘YES!  My first cast member…she’s perfect.’  In a sense I was choosing my own ‘jury’.  🙂

2) The court aid:  short, white haired, maybe mid 60s, slightly frumpy, cool as a cucumber, mono-toned, but kind.  Slow moving, but knows her stuff.  She did kind of remind me of a disheveled fairy god-mother on valuim.  I think we’ll go with… court aid for her title.

3) A fair skinned, light haired, quick to smile, kind woman, maybe mid to late 30s.  About 20 minutes after I got there and about 3 minutes before the FAQ presentation started, she noted the book I was reading about New Zealand and asked me ‘Are you going to New Zealand?’.  Turns out she grew up in NZ!  Immediately, I had a ton of questions which were promptly cut short by the FAQ presentation.  I did withhold barraging her with questions until the end of the day.  she was in the jury box with me in the 1st round of 18.  She will be called the ‘Kind Kiwi’.

4) He was dressed professionally, had a shiny wedding ring on, dark skinned (maybe had heritage from India or the middle east), wore glasses.  When asked if he needed to postpone, he said he was finishing up his masters and all assignments/presentations were due this next week.  Later i asked what his masters was in: education/admin, turns out he’s a principal of a charter school.  He was calmly communicative, but i would not say friendly.  We swapped stories and philosophies of education for a bit.  I assume that jury duty was a HUGE set back for him professionally and academically.  He sat next to me in the juror box too … and we had some similar answers.  I like him.  He seems grounded and even and fair.  I think I would like being a student under his direction.  I’ll call him ‘the principal’.

5) Every group has this lady too … mini skirt, slightly overweight, low cut bejeweled hoodie, ugg boots, a little tooo tan, SUPER loud.  When asked about postponement, we all had to hear a pretty extensive play by play about how she has to pick up her daughter from school etc.  Throughout the whole day she loudly/giggly answered all rhetorical questions as if just she and the courtaid were the only people in the room.  Oh, and she sat all the way in the back, I was about half way back, so I’m not joking about the loud.  She reminded me of a character from Drop Dead Gorgeous.  What shall I call her… mmmm… ‘Sissy’.  I’m confident that someone in her life calls her Sissy … maybe a grandma, a sister, a daughter … but definitely sissy.

6) other people that have given roles: the judge (pretty great sense of humor), bailiff (when i asked what the instructions were to communicate some info to the judge, he said ‘I don’t know.  I don’t even pay attention to any of this.’ 🙂 ), the attorneys (or are they lawyers?): defense attorney a man who is TOTALLY a character in my sitcom and the Prosecution is a woman and she’s stereotypical awesome.

20 minutes after arriving, done with paperwork and just reading my book, sitting next to APL
APL to Courtaid: It’s really hot.  Can we turn on the A/C
CA: sure. (she turns on a floor fan instead)
APL: is there a reason why you’re not using the A/C?
CA: oh, we are, it’s just that the thermostat is controlled down in the LA office
(I do everything I can to contain myself from showing the glee I have in anticipation of APL’s response)
APL: (rolling her eyes and bitingly muttering: that’s the moronic government for you)
CA: it’s like 20 degrees cooler down in LA, so they’re not going to change it there, it would be freezing in their offices
(Me smiling to myself… at that point i KNEW it was going to be a great day!)

-went to the library for lunch…read some books…researched and ordered some more books (which will be emailed to me when they’re ready for pick up), did some emails/texts … i HEART the local library!

-Leaving the library, I noticed someone who seemed really familiar.  Couldn’t place her…she was with 2 kids, who started looking familiar …. eventually it clicked.  She’s from church and she’s babysitting kids from my church, whose parents are my clients. THAT was a funny exchange too because child one was forlorn and crestfallen that the book he wanted was taken by another kid.  Shoulders dropped, head hug low, crocodile tears … it was awesome and sad and a reminder at just how impacting life’s disappointments can be for a young one.  I withheld the temptation to offer him a solution of ordering it through their on-line system and then giving them an email address where they can notify you that it’s in.  I figured it might be lost on the moment 🙂

-On my way back into the courthouse, a drink sounded good.  i stopped at the hot dog cart just outside the courthouse doors, manned by a married couple: he’s from Lebanon, she’s from NY.  They were HILARIOUS!  and I laughed and laughed and asked a zillion questions …they invited me to sit and have lunch with them (he told me that it was bad for my digestion to eat/drink at the same time and to stand whilst eating) … I felt like I was back in the middle east or NY … we talked about how they met 35 years ago, the fact that he’s been legally dead 13 times and the outer body experiences that went with a few of them (prompted by a comment I made about death is inevitable) . . . seriously, it made getting out of bed TOTALLY worth it.  I can’t wait to go back today!  I should bring them something.  But they are ABSOLUTELY in my cast!
And, sidenote: yesterday proved, AGAIN, that I’ve NEVER met a middleeasterner or a NYer who could not tell a GREAT story!  ALSO, the scene was reminiscent of something that anyone in my family would’ve done… I very much felt kindered to my sociable heritage.

OBSERVATIONS (in all seriousness)

-it’s an odd thing, this process…
-the accused sits there while we bare all, intended to determine if our life stories will affect a fair and impartial hearing of the evidence.
-it was weird that I know nothing of the accused and he (and 60+ other people) now know a lot about my value system, my opinions, my tendencies … it’s a bizarre peel back of yourself… in real life you let all that info gradually unfold and you get used to each other at each new phase.  Not in jury duty…we all have only loaded canon balls of info about each other…like the cliff notes of a book… it was actually convicting to wonder if short yes/no or one phrase answers about myself would testify to God’s work in me or if it would be a reflection of the world and its’ values.
-people’s stories/experiences/situations… just a reminder that you never know what people have been through/are going through …I was reminded that I need to continue cultivating automatic compassion for all people all the time, cuz you JUST NEVER KNOW.

-I always thought that people didn’t want to do jury duty and would therefore ‘say anything’ to get out of it.  HOWEVER, not the case.  There’s a bizarre peer pressure to be appear unaffected by any testimony/info … meaning it was almost as if all our personal experiences/values (what shapes you) is easily cast aside for the benefit of this accused.  To be honest with you, I didn’t believe most of the jurors answers.  I think most were caving to that weird peer pressure to not seem ‘politically incorrect’  ie. ‘accept everyone all the time no matter what.’  I find it hiiighly unlikely that if I was having dinner with any of them that they would’ve given the same answers.
So, we shall see what happens.

I WANT to be a juror but I did feel compelled to tell the truth (which risked being dismissed).
2 of the biggies for me:
1) I want to know if the accused is a US citizen because that WILL affect my perspective…that didn’t seem to go over too well with the judge
2) when asked if I would have any difficulty hearing expert scientific evidence, I had to just disclose that I don’t believe every ‘scientific’ evidence that I hear.  I got grilled on that one …..grilled right up until I had to actually give an example like creation/evolution …both being theories, however, in mainstream culture one presented as reliable fact, one presented as laughable fiction.  I wonder if it will come up today.  🙂

and the biggest one is in my head …do I really subscribe to ‘ innocent until proven guilty’?
I know that, as sinners, we’re ALL guilty.
I know the US law states the opposite starting point.
So, I had some theological gymnastics going on yesterday in my brain, in addition to the onslaught of procedure and questioning.

Off to Day 2!



  Jenn Hughes wrote @

loved reading the juror thoughts….I can totally relate to your observations. I so agree on your last point- questioning the innocent until proven guilty. I had a juror incident a few years back when I told the judge (in front of the 60+ people in the courtroom– just to keep things nice and awkward) that I wasn’t sure I didn’t have preconceived ideas about the defendant based on the information that had already been shared with everyone. I can’t remember what the charges were now– something having to do inappropriate behavior between a grown man and a young girl– but the kicker for me was that the prosecution had a list of witnesses 25 people long. And about 5 of them were police officers. The defense had NOT. ONE. SINGLE. WITNESS. Not even someone to vouch for his character! I was the only juror to voice honestly that I had my doubts about his innocence. And let me tell you, I got read THE RIOT ACT by the judge, complete with the “You’re UN-American!” for not thinking he’s innocent until proven guilty. Fun times. And I think (*hope*) that my name has been blacklisted from the juror pool because I haven’t been called back since! It’s a tough call, though… I think I would really enjoy the mental exercise (and people watching!) of being a juror if it just weren’t so gosh darn inconvenient. Hope your experience (and sitcom) turn out well…. 🙂

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