Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jury Duty

I had jury duty this week.
I got to sit in the central jury hall, outside the courtrooms, in the courtrooms and finally in the jury box, before I didn't get chosen to be a juror.

The judge told me being a special education teacher was a noble profession though, before I didn't get chosen. Just for the record, I believe (though it could never be confirmed) that I didn't get chosen for doing what I do best- opening my mouth.

Day one- I watched the potential jurors in the box, while I sat in the audience because I didn't get my name drawn from the wooden tumbler that resembled the contraption that is used to extract Bingo balls. The district attorney and the defense both grilled the people who did get chosen about being able to remember a face if their encounter with that face was traumatic. Two potential jurors took exception. One young man argued particularly cogently that his sole objective in a life threatening situation would be to survive, not to memorize the details of the attackers appearance. The other, a copyright attorney made a similar statement. They were not chosen for the panel. Neither was the young mother who said she read the Indian papers and used her free time to play with her children. However, the young man who replied to the question "are you married?" with the response, "in some places," leading me to conclude he was making a statement on same sex marriage, was chosen.

Day Two: My name emerged second from the bingo ball - panel selector tumbler, and I was seated in the jury box. The judge again apprised us of the privilege of performing our civil duty. (Earlier I complained - I was getting tired of jury duty after going through the fourth of fifth security check- and the man standing next to me said- "stop being such a model citizen and they won't call you) And along with this reminder the judge recalled that some of us might have an idea of things we could say that would get us excused. I was beginning to think that anything we said that was more than yes or no, or I like to read and listen to the local news mostly for the weather report would be the exit ticket from the juror box. So the defense attorney got around to asking me if I agreed with him that if you spoke to someone long enough you would be able to ascertain if he spoke the truth.

Wait- do you what I do?- do you know how many hours of my life I spend listening to people tell me, she did this, I said that, or more likely I didn't do "it", say "it", throw "it" etc.? After listening to opposing stories for more than a few minutes I have no idea what the truth is or who is the better liar. And I told the defense attorney this. From the corner of my eye I could see the district attorney pick up a yellow highlighter and slash decisively across her paper.

I was off the panel. And jury duty was over just a bit later that day.

Back in school on Thursday I found Marianna pacing in front of my room.
"I didn't pass the Algebra Regent, I didn't pass the Science Regent. I need a really good tutor"

We'll work together- we'll get them next time Marianna.
The judge is right about one thing It is a noble profession.

Even for those who can't keep their mouth's shut.

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