Tuesday, September 17, 2013
The System Works
So yesterday I spent the morning at the county courthouse, having responded, like a good boy, to a jury summons. (They took pains to tell us our county is among the highest in the country in terms of percentage of people showing up when called. You mean people don't? Who knew? Coulda stayed in bed.) After passing through security, not unlike TSA stuff, and being shooed away when I got too close in picking up my watch) I joined about 140 other people awaiting their fate, in a large room with extremely uncomfortable chairs and extremely bad coffee. I was pleased, for no particular reason, to note that my peers were all dressed non-sloppily. Not a tube top among them. Of course, it had been raining.
I'd been called a few times before; when I was working I always wiggled out, because serving would have meant canceling operations which would have been unpleasant for my patients. I reported one prior time, sat there for a few hours, and was excused without much really happening. This time I got as far as being named to a group of 40 people destined to a certain courtroom. After being told we'd be called upstairs in ten minutes, several times, extending it to nearly an hour, they announced we were excused. Case continued, as they say. In total I spent about four hours, peed a couple of times, emailed my wife, surfed the net, read a book, exchanged a couple of pleasantries. They had free wi-fi in the jury containment area, and I had my laptop.
Not sure if I'm disappointed or not. I'm pretty sure I'd not have been selected to sit, although I have no idea. I hear they don't much like doctors on juries; and the fact that I write (or have been) a ranty-liberal column in the local newspaper might have been exclusionary, too. It might have been fun to announce that stuff and see the reaction. As to sitting for untold hours while lawyers did their thing, and then, perhaps, to hear other jurors say what they though, well, I think I can do without it; although there's a certain unsatisfied curiosity.
On the other hand, I'd really hoped to make it into the courtroom, had it been a particular judge with whom I have a little history. When our kids were in pre-Little League baseball, I had to umpire a game because the actual ump didn't show up. The now-judge, then half-ass lawyer, was coaching the other team, and kept yelling about rules. Like when our pitcher walked in a few runs and started to cry, and our coach went to the mound to put a consoling arm around his shoulder, the asshole objected, announced he was playing the game under protest, because the rule says the kid was supposed to come to the sidelines.
He raised more objections to other insignificant infractions meant to help kids but, evidently, from the wrong place on the field, and I finally said to him, hey, man, this isn't the World Series. These kids are third graders. Some of them are fourth graders!! he yelled, external jugulars flopping like docked fish, as if he'd just announced the most important truth since something something.
Another time, the asshole pulled a U-turn in front of me, heading the other way on a semi-main drag, causing me to slam on my brakes. Then he pulled back out in front of me, causing me to slam them again. Then he turned into what turned out to be his driveway, stopping first without signaling, causing me to slam on the brakes yet again. So I honked the horn as I drove off, teaching him a thing or two. At which point he jumped out of his car and ran into the street, flipping me off as I disappeared. Or he did. Anyhow, it was a dick move.
So I was hoping to be able to ask, all innocent, if personal issues with the judge were something I should report; and, if questioned for specifics, telling those stories. Particularly the finger wave. In front of him, the lawyers and other participants, and the rest of the potential jurors. Or, better yet, in chambers, just him and me and the lawyers and Della Street.
Didn't happen. I discharged my duty, and can expect a check for ten bucks to arrive in about three weeks. They pay a mileage allowance, too, based on zip code.
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