The Daily Dump

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Thursday, April 6

But The Coolest Part Was That On My Way Home I Saw Them Taping “Law & Order: SVU” Outside The Courthouse

Because, much like the Winter Olympics, you only get to blog about jury duty once every four years. If that’s not worthy of a running diary post, I don’t know what is.

(p.s. Haley’s comet – definitely worth a running diary post. OK, moving on . . .)

7:40 Wake up and immediately regret going out the night before. I mean immediately. I wasn’t even sure where I was yet, but I was positive that that last beer was a mistake.

7:50 Go into the shower and do that thing where you still have your eyes closed and you’re making all the movements you normally make in the shower, but you completely lack self awareness. For single people, this is usually accompanied by a regretful flashbacks of making out with someone. For me, it was regretful flashbacks of eating buffalo wings at 11:30.

8:20 Get to the subway platform and put on my headphones. Ten seconds after I turn on my iPod, the battery dies. I think, “This might be a good time to just leave New York. Skip jury duty and never come back.” Just then a train comes and I am pushed into the car by an angry businesswoman.

8:45 “Technically” I’m supposed to be at the courthouse right now, but as I walk towards the building I see a Starbucks out of the corner of my eye. In what would later prove to be one of the greatest decisions of my life, instead of arriving at jury duty on time I stop to get an iced mocha latte. In fact, I think this action went beyond “decision” – it was my body’s instinct for survival.

9:04 I arrive at the jury assembly room fashionably late and everyone is already watching the instructional video. Personally, I don’t feel the need to watch the video because I think I will be a naturally gifted juror. But then this phrase catches my attention: “If you are excused, please remember it is in no way a reflection of your integrity or intelligence.” I think “Yes it is: you’d have to be pretty dumb to not get excused.” This is what we in the literary world refer to as “foreshadowing.”

9:06 The video again captures my attention with the line “According to surveys, most people who serve on juries come away with a more favorable view of our legal system than they ever had before.” The guy next to me lets out a little laugh upon hearing that and my initial reaction is, “What an asshole.” Because it’s one thing for me to be incredulous about our legal system, but when other people are that’s just downright unpatriotic.

9:10 (Here I jotted down the note “Who wears an anklet to jury duty?” I have no idea what I was referring to.)

9:12 Why not just show episodes of “Law & Order?” I mean, everyone already knows that this is exactly how we think it works. Why not just play that up. It’s not like by watching this video everyone won’t think, ”Wow, this is disappointing” when they walk into the courtroom.

9:15 There’s a decent chance I might vomit.

9:24 A woman begins reading instructions over a loud speaker, mainly guidelines for who has to serve and who might be eligible for a postponement. Then she says, “If you are not a legal citizen, you cannot serve jury duty. Please go to the courthouse at 60 Center Street, room 139 [to be arrested].” OK, I added that last part; but come on, an illegal immigrant is going to purposely go into a court house and say, “I was just at jury duty but they said because I was an illegal alien I had to come here instead? Oh, and I also need one of those, what do you call them, visas?”

9:38 I spent my 15 minute break in the bathroom passing the buffalo wings from last night. Just an awful turn of events. It was one of those situations where as soon as you go you want to audibly say, “I’m sorry” to everyone else in the room. The guy in the stall next to me moaned. Honestly, I don’t know why they didn’t just clear out of the bathroom. The only reason I was there was because I had to be.

9:40 Feeling much better once I get back to my seat. Then I realize that I’m still at jury duty.

10:00 A public service announcement from The Daily Dump: “You don’t need to be at jury duty until 10:00. The 8:45 arrival time is purely a suggestion.”

10:10 Conversation overheard between two 20-something guys on the walk over to the court room:

Guy 1: “He met a girl last night and then called her when he got home!”

Guy 2: “NOOO! Hasn’t he ever seen Swingers?”

Guy 1: “Luckily she wasn’t home, so he’s going to wait three days before calling her again.”

Sometimes the hardest part of jury duty is owning up to the fact that these are your peers.

10:20 We sit down in the courtroom. The judge’s name is “Judge Stone,” and immediately I think of “Night Court” and Mac saying, “All rise, Judge Harold T. Stone presiding.” I loved “Night Court.” In terms of 80’s sitcoms, it was right up there with “Family Ties” and “Perfect Strangers.” Although as a kid I was always put off by the creator’s name in the credits: “Reinhold Weege.” I know that there are worse names, but imagine your girlfriend taking you home to her parents for the first time and saying, “Dad, this is my boyfriend – Reinhold Weege.” Or walking into a job interview and confidently striding up to the desk with your hand outstretched saying, “Reinhold Weege, nice to meet you!” I just can’t think of a situation where it’s not embarrassing. Also, I’m literally writing this all out on the back of the Juror’s Instruction Booklet and I just had a scary high school flashback wherein Judge Stone says, “Bailiff, please collect the piece of paper from that gentlemen; let’s see what’s so important it can’t wait until I’m done speaking.”

10:35 Judge reiterates that not being chosen is not a reflection on one’s “intelligence, integrity of value as a person.” I want to meet the person who, after being rejected for jury duty, goes home with their head hanging and has this conversation with their spouse:

Wife: “What’s wrong dear?”

Husband: “Oh, nothing.”

Wife: “Really, what is it? You’re worrying me.”

Husband: “It’s just that . . . I was rejected for jury duty. I feel like I really let you and the kids down. I just . . . I thought I was a better man than that.”

Then, at 10:50, everything changes. Of the group of 40 people in the courtroom, they read off 16 names and I am number four. I get up into the witness box and they ask me the standard questions: where I live, where I work, have I ever been the victim of a crime, etc. In theory, it’s extremely easy to get out of being on the jury at this point. As one person did, all you have to says is, “A friend of mine was mugged a few months ago and I just feel like all muggers should go to jail because that’s an awful thing to do to someone.” I rack my brain, wondering if I can relate to them the story of my friend Matt who was jumped by a group of kids back in high school. That’s kind of a crime, isn’t it? Or when my mom used to spank me with a wooden spoon? Even if it’s not child abuse, it’s a good story . . .

But then the judge explains something interesting. He says, “Before I start, let me tell you that we do not expect this case to run for more than three days. If you are not chosen for this jury, you will be sent back to the waiting room where you will be called again to be a potential juror for another case. That case might last longer than this one.” Basically he was selling me on this jury. And actually, it was a great decision – because I was picked for the jury and then promptly sent home at 11:30. So instead of sitting around for another six hours hoping to be dismissed, I get to miss work for three days and decide the fate of a man who mugged two people. I’m sorry, “who mugged two alleged people.”

Honestly though, it is sobering to be sworn in and then look the man in the eye and know that you are going to be one of the people who decides his fate. This guy could go to jail for five years because of what I think. It’s enough to make a man drunk with importance. Luckily I’m usually just plain drunk, so I don’t see this whole ordeal having any effect on me whatsoever, aside from maybe being arrested for sneaking photos of testifying witnesses to use on my blog. It’s all for you guys, don’t ever forget that.


You know it's an ultimate mad deuce dropping session when you have to take off clothing to do it.

My boyfriend has told stories with such occurances about when he has to "go" at work...

By Blogger Laurie (aka buggy), at 2:54 AM  

"I’m sorry, 'who mugged two alleged people.'"

I believe you mean "Who allegedly mugged two people." Unless it's the species of the victims in question, and if that's the case, I want to be on this jury too.

I got called for jury duty too, in two weeks. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the heads-up on what to expect. I will now go forth knowing I have plenty of time for that second cup of coffee.

By Blogger Belligerent Sister, at 8:31 AM  

...and the circle will continue, because one of us will be on the jury hearing your case about sneaking pictures of the jury pool, and then we'll be arrested for sneaking pictures of the jury pool, and then you'll be on the jury...

I love the judge. "Dude, don't be a pansy: serve on this jury before I make you serve on a longer trial." He should have his own day-time show. Not enough of those.

By Blogger RetroDragon, at 8:36 AM  

my favorite way to get out of jury duty is to tell everyone i'm racist. oh, and being a lawyer helps, too.

By Blogger kat, at 9:16 AM  

"Although as a kid I was always put off by the creator’s name in the credits: “Reinhold Weege.”"

You know who I always thought had a cool name? Judge Reinhold. Plus he was in Beverly Hills Cop.

By Anonymous Johnson, at 10:45 AM  

I have so many friends that have been called for jury duty, none of them have actually been chosen.. this should be interesting!! :)

By Blogger Audrey, at 11:16 AM  

I haven't finished the blog yet but Baliff Nostradamus 'Bull' Shannon asks everyone to please rise, not Mac.

By Blogger [Disgrundled], at 12:12 PM  

Way to work the system. Did they also tell you that you get paid for jury duty? Yessir, I think it's like $10 a day or something.

They're paying you to wield your power over others and miss work. I say, bring on jury duty!

By Blogger undercover celebrity, at 12:33 PM  

You're right - it was Bull, not Mac. I think my initial thought was Bull, but then I convinced myself it was Mac. Take comfort in the fact that I feel pretty stupid for getting that wrong. Really, really awfully stupid.

By Blogger the belligerent intellectual, at 1:16 PM  

That is oddly comforting.

By Blogger [Disgrundled], at 1:49 PM  

I get to miss work for three days and decide the fate of a man who mugged two people. I’m sorry, “who mugged two alleged people.”

That made me laugh out loud.

You're lucky-- when I was at jury duty, my name didn't get called at all, so I just sat in the room all damn day.

(and then you'll see I totally used Twelve Angry Men, too. And sorry that I'm lame and linked to myself)

By Blogger mysterygirl!, at 3:03 PM  

The only good thing about Jury duty is that your in control on someone else's life for a change.

We are a selfish bunch.

By Blogger Janet, at 3:04 PM  

Mysterygirl, I'm such an asshole. I read that post when it was first up and loved it. Then, apparently not satisfied with simply loving it, used the same old movie reference in my post.

If you're keeping score at home, I have so far messed up my facts on a telelvison show and plagarized. That's what we at The Daily Dump call "professional."

By Blogger the belligerent intellectual, at 3:11 PM  

A mugging?!? Damn, at least that's interesting. I had four days of a patent dispute over the invention of a folding bus seat. Sawing away at my wrists with a steno notepad's cardboard back had never looked so appealing.

By Blogger MonkeyPants, at 4:34 PM  

"Does it matter that I gots a dog named nigger?" (Said in a twangy backwoods southern accent.) That was the advice my father once told me to get out of jury duty. He's a smart, smart man.

Why do I feel really bad about writing the "n" word? Damn conscience.

Oh, and Dan Fielding was the best character on that show. Still, to this day I can't think of him as any other character than the sleezy defender that he played oh so well.

By Blogger Jenni, at 12:18 PM  

just curious, but can you actually diary-blog a jury duty? isn't that illegal or something?

well, i'm not there in the US so i'm kinda glad i won't have my fate decided by the likes of you and have courts with arbitrary sentence and massively greedy bribly judges instead.

By Blogger treespotter, at 10:10 AM  

I feel like such a rank amateur not having a cool pic avatar for my comment. But, they'll never be able to ID me from my comments on blogs sited in cities 3000 miles away. Like when what's his name in the Shawshank Redemption crawled thru the sewer and ended up in Mexico!

Anyway, this was a hilarious entry and I think it would be SO cool to be on a jury that voted to convict some thug and then when ya come in..before the verdict is read..make eye contact with him and wink and nod and stuff...totally set him up...then WHAM! Guilty on Count 1, Guilty on Count 2, etc.

That's some shit he can think about during slammer time.

Wow, you've got the pre-Matrix machines take over the world word verification thing going...

By Anonymous Bob, at 12:25 PM  

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