To understand where I’m coming from, and to not think I’m some kind of anti-justice system jerk, I am trying to start my own business and would have been waived from blowing several days of jury duty had I not still been on unemployment when I filled out the questionnaire. I was thinking about lying on it and saying I was self-employed at the time, but then I got worried I’d get arrested for contempt of court or something else that sounds law-like.


Jury Duty Done

What’s with all these white folks?

I wonder as I’m up for federal jury selection.

Some kind of cross-section of the state,

I’m guessing, but I always thought juries

were mostly made up of minority women

for some reason. Then again,

the only trial I ever watched was OJ.

I feel like I’m on the set

of Twelve Angry Men Two

but with a lot more visits to the bathroom.

Maybe their nerves, or maybe because

the carpet is cold in this old courthouse.

I can’t help making connections

to “The Lottery” or The Hunger Games,

and I start to look around to consider my chances.


I try to say I need to work on my new business

instead of a class-action lawsuit,

but I was already serving.

My chance to bail was when the judge

asked if anything had come up recently

that needed my attention,

like loss of unemployment checks,

I assume. But I waited,

figuring he’d ask a more specific question.

He didn’t. My friend Dave had told me

to just say everyone’s guilty,

but I didn’t want to be.


When I told the judge I was cynical enough

to not want myself on a jury deciding a case

for me, I wasn’t lying. Really, I am honest,

but when they had a sidebar and deliberation

beneath oppressive white noise, I felt

it was to discuss my verdict. The question is valid:

would you really want you as a jury member

deciding your fate? Not right now, since

you’re not caught

or have yet to break the law

or have yet to be blamed for something

you never did in the first place.

Something you publicly claim

to be heinous.

Would you want your you today

deciding the fate of that future you?

Deriding, chiding.

Could you understand the reasons

for your actions and forgive,

or are you even supposed to?

Would you know the difference?

Or, maybe that’s the honesty

we all need out of a jury--

the fear that this honest person

will judge properly,

even carrying the baggage

of cynicism and opinions,

like wondering why the lawyers and judge

get all the fancy leather office chairs

while us jurors just get fancy cloth.

Justice? Then the judge asks why

I’m cynical, and I say I got laid off

after twelve years of devoted service;

then my union ignored me.

And I am suddenly busy wishing the bailiff

looked like Bull from Night Court

to entertain me.

I was prepared to tell the judge,

if he wanted any more answers,

that I was not entirely misanthropic,

but I’d seen To Kill a Mockingbird

enough times to know we’re all guilty of something,

even Tom Robinson. I’d also seen

A Few Good Men a few times, so I

can handle the truth, and that’s probably

what’s intended, even if the lawyers and judge

don’t seem to agree, so I was struck from jury duty,

and I noticed more men than women

were set free. So I guess we’d rather

our moms judge us than ourselves.