Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jury Duty - Part One

I did end up being selected to be on the jury for a trial that started around 9:30 AM and ended at 4:21 PM.  We were supposed to be there at 8:00 AM.  I was late.  I parked in the handicapped parking for the wrong building and very rudely walked through the grass in front of the guy that I thought was the judge but was just the judge's helper.  I rushed to take the last seat.  And there we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more until it was 8:55:22.  Yes, they had a clock pointing at us counting down the seconds - kind of cruel, I think. 

For the fifty-five minutes and twenty-two seconds I did not write, although I had a composition book and a pen stashed in my purse.  Instead, I observed, which is what we are supposed to be doing as writers anyway, right? 

I listened to conversations and noted the demographics of the group - all white, two Hispanic.  Mostly old or middle-aged people, and only three young people, two of which desperately tried to get out of it by answering normal questions with ludicrous answers because one obviously was hung over and needed to go back to bed; the other needed to go to work or lose a day's pay. 

The question asked was something like, "Do you believe the police should interfere in domestic violence disputes in the home."  Their answer was that the police have no business interfering if the door is closed no matter how much one person is beating up the other.  I do not believe anyone would agree with that.  When questioned more, the obviously hung over young lady held her mouth agape, too tired to keep her mouth closed perhaps, and answered "Yuh" like she was a pissed off fourteen year old talking back to her mom.  When asked what she did for work, she said she was a model.  She most certainly did not look like a model.  She was skinny and pasty pale.  Her attitude made her seem very ugly.  I want to make her a character in a story.  Something bad will happen to her in the story - I'm not sure what yet.  Maybe alien creatures that are only provoked to eat humans if that particular nasty tone of "Yuh" is said out loud three times in succession.  Three sets of teeth will devour her.  Something like that.

The other guy was obviously saying anything to get him out of it.  He finally came out with it that he was finally called in to a construction job that day and really needed the money.  So be it; they sent him home.  I thought that was a nice thing to do. 

I did have the opportunity to make everyone laugh in the courtroom and bring some levity to the domestic violence, restraint, and criminal damage trial.  One of the lawyers asked if anyone in the room had ever had a negative experience with a police officer.  I was under oath.  I raised my hand.  When called upon, I confessed that my ex-husband was a cop and that was definitely a negative experience.  Roars of laughter filled the courtroom. 

I was lucky that one of my neighbors was also there and was selected to be on the jury.  That made breaks and deliberations much better.  The jurors were very interesting.  I liked them all very much and wish the thing had gone on longer.  There were two older women that were very likable. 

One sat next to me.  She wore pretty earrings that matched her fuzzy pink/purple hue of a sweater that complemented her skin tone and white hair.  She was super nice and told us stories about the time she worked as a home aid helper type of person, sitting with elderly people in their home so they wouldn't be alone.  She was so cute.  At breaks she and the other grandmother-type-person offered to help me get drinks since I had a cane.  I should have been helping them.  They were so sweet.  During deliberation, the one in pink/purple, whose name I regrettably didn't get, got easily confused by the legal terminology and along with the other elderly people asked the middle-agers in the room to slow it down a bit.  Respectfully, we did.

I realized I really do like older people and I definitely fit right in with that crowd with my aches and pains and walking stick.  My attire didn't match, but I'm not sure anyone noticed.  I wore a t-shirt with Peanuts characters on it, sandals (that are actually extremely high-priced orthopedic sandals disguised as regular ones), jeans, and not a speck of make-up.  I don't think they minded.  I enjoy slowing things down and listening to their heart-felt stories.  I think they liked it that my neighbor and I listened to what they had to say.  Maybe I will go down to one of the nursing centers nearby and offer to volunteer.  Maybe I can read to them or just sit and talk.

Tomorrow, I will share the remarkable trial - horrifying in so many ways although we found the guy to be not guilty three times over.  Actually the other jurors and the people working at the courthouse were equally interesting.  Maybe this will be three parts.  Unless no one reads it or something else fills my mind in the meantime.

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