Wednesday, January 12, 2005

jury doodie

at the moment: I am breaking the law, doing my most sacred of civic duties and contemplating both running for potus and moving to canada, all at the same time. and it's only 10am.

right now, it's wednesday morning, and I'm seated at a table with 11 other well dressed ladies and gentlemen who are all wishing they'd brought more to read. remember a few weeks ago, I told you I got jury duty? well, guess who got picked to sit in a criminal case. I can't tell you too much about it until the case is over (because you know these judges have nothing better to do than scan weblogs) but since I'm not exactly supposed to have internet access right now anyway, I'll let you in on a few nuances of the system I've noticed thus far.

my favorite part was yesterday when 200 of us were kept in the waiting room with nothing more than a vending machine, a tv tuned to cnn, and a half a billion copies of "Essence" (halle berry and will smith were on the cover). I read somewhere that buffalo is one of the most wireless-internet-accessible cities in the world, and thank the saints for it, because the jury waiting room and my ipaq became quick friends.

anyway when we first got there, the bailiff, who looks nothing like richard moll (did anyone else know his character's full name was "nostradamus 'bull' shannon"?), threw in a video tape that explained how the whole jury thing was gonna go down. it kind of reminded me of the safety videos airlines use sometimes - hey, one less thing the accompanying professionals don't have to bother with. except that this one was a half hour long and featured ed Bradley discussing the justice system as a whole and... wait for it... DIANE SAWYER telling us all about the history of the american "trial by jury". I swear, you cannot call yourself a connoisseur of tv cheese until you hear ed bradley (I swear I'm not making this up) say the words "so you've been called for jury duty..."

decades from now, social scientists will marvel at the part of this film where they reenacted a medieval "trial by ordeal". since the guy sank to the bottom of the lake instead of floating, he was innocent, and the peasants rejoiced. I was waiting for one of them to shout "he turned me into a newt!"

by about 2pm, they called my group in for selection. there were about 50 of us still there, but a couple were excused right off the bat. this, my friends, is where my brain split into two equal and opposing factions. my first instinct was to hope for dismissal. I mean, c'mon, who wants to sit on a jury when you've got a new copy of diablo II waiting back at the bodega?

but then my other self raised a valid point: it was either ben franklin or a bumper sticker on a pick-up who said: freedom comes at a price. and though this phrase is most often used by people justifying US global policy, I think whoever said it first meant that the government has to be participatory to work. we have to pay taxes. we have to vote. we have to give up an occasional day of playing diablo II to sit in a room with 199 other people making fun of ed bradley.

and besides, I might get a good post out of it.

so, I kicked into batman mode. how do I get on this jury? what are the other people saying that's getting them noticed? should I mention the lawyers in my family? how about my own legal aspirations? where do I need to move the pieces in this battle of psychological chinese checkers in order to be chosen as one of those lucky 12?

by the time I'd figured out a strategy, it was 5pm, the jury had been chosen (me included), and I was being shuffled out the door with instructions to return in the morning. yes, by virtue of sitting there and saying nothing, I became one of 12 Angry Men. (actually, there are five women, and only one is really mildly perturbed, in case you're wondering.)

there was certainly a quick, fleeting moment where I enjoyed my success as though I'd just landed a part in a sorkin production, or had been accepted to notre dame, etc... but then it passed and all I could muster to mark my apparent judicial aptitude was to mutter "sonofa..." under my breath and grimace in pain as I lashed out at a nearby mailbox. the mailbox had it coming, I whimpered.

soooooo, here I sit. breaking the law because I'm not supposed to have internet access, but upholding my most sacred of civic duties (diane sawyer says it's more important than voting... neener-neener). I'll tell you more about it over the weekend, unless it turns out I'm gone AWOL and I'm running through canada.

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