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?
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.