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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jury says...

My day of jury duty began when nature called some 25 minutes before my alarm.  Don't you just love that? Out the door at 7:45, figuring that would be PLENTY of time to get downtown.

Except for a less than agile trucker.  If you have google, look up 2302 North Clinton Street, Fort Wayne.  Click on street view of Lindy Lou's furniture.  You'll notice that there is about a foot-high curb between the sidewalk and the building.  Apparently, the trucker didn't.  Turning onto State Street, he ran over the sidewalk and up the curb, putting his trailer at a height that left it stuck under the business's sign, and at an angle that pretty much assured that if he moved, he'd roll over.

Now, he did this shortly after I started my journey.  All I knew was that, damn, traffic is backed up, and, I wonder if I should get in the left lane before I end up past the parking garage on Main St.  Fortunately, the Mighty 1190 WOWO (which I brilliantly chose to listen to rather than music) explained the situation before I tried to get into a lane I would have just had to get out of in a few blocks.  Unfortunately, it came after I was at a point of doing anything else about it, and thus I was stuck in the crowd inching its way past the debacle.

Got past, made the garage, parked the car, and started walking for the courthouse by 8:10. (Had to be there at 8:30, so all was good.)  As usual, I did a complete circle of the building, since they only allow entrance through one door and I simply have to examine the other three every time I go there. Through the metal detectors, past security, and follow the amazingly clearly-marked path to the jury assembly area.  Finally coming to a sign right in the way, with an arrow pointing at the jury window you are supposed to check in at.  The lady put out her hand to take my summons (which I brought so I could remember my juror number and not because of the bold-print "BRING THIS SUMMONS TO THE COURTHOUSE WITH YOU TO CHECK IN" that I never noticed until a few minutes later), scanned the barcode, and had me take a seat.  I was probably 8th or 9th out of the 32 souls selected for the pool.

I sat on the aisle near the jury window, in an aisle blocked by a pillar so I'd never have to worry about someone needing to work their way past me. In front of me, one over and with the pillar at his back, was the only person who arrived in formal attire- black suit and tie.  From behind he looked like a 20-years-younger Steve Shine (non-locals, that's the county GOP chair.)  Others began to file in, including a guy who wore khaki shorts.  Soon later, about the time I noticed the "Bring yer summons" warning, I noted that the summons also said, "ATTIRE:  Business casual. no tank tops OR SHORTS."  At least I wasn't the only one who didn't pay attention.  He told the Jury window lady that the wrecker had indeed arrived at the accident, and were trying to figure out how to lift the trailer off the curb without taking out the sign.  She said she'd had quite a few calls from those fearing they'd be late due to the dipshit accident.  I thought, hmmm... perhaps increasing my chances of being selected.  I was #16 on the list, so I thought I had a pretty good chance.

About this time, our sharp dressed man floated an air-biscuit my way.  Wouldn't it figure, the one guy dressed to the Ts.  Now I understand why dogs judge each other based on butt-sniffing.  Not gonna do it, but understand it.

As I looked around, the front of our area had a TV/DVD player set up for a video we'd watch in a bit.  Next to it was a high-top desk, strangely out of place.  On it were: a three-basined plastic tray; what appeared to be an empty napkin holder; and, oddest of all in a place of government in this day and age, a small ceramic church like you see in Christmas displays.  A subtle way of thumbing the official nose at atheists, mayhap?

At least three people, oblivious to the sign with the arrow blocking their way, went past the window to the nearby door that they weren't authorized to enter.  One lady I had to point the window out to, since she tried the door, came back past the sign, and still did not appear to read it.  But who am I to throw stones?  I woulda looked real good being the only one not to bring his summons. Oh, and that lady sat next to the stinker-in-a-suit, and guess what?  That's right, soon after she sat down, he did it again.  It must be a non-verbal way of saying hello on his planet.

Then a lady came out, told us all the things we needed to know (most of which we had on a paper the window lady gave us, but obviously not all of us could read), and played the video.  She also told us is was to be a six-man jury.  Crap, now instead of 4 people in my way, there were 10!  She explained to us where the restrooms were; some people used the video as a good time to make use of them.  One lady in particular I noticed waited until the movie was over.  Seconds later, the bailiff showed up, gave us the whys and wherefores, and told us that he was now going to name off the first six potential jurors.   "Number 32," he said.  I said to myself, crap again, they're doing this random!  No #32 answered.  He called out the next two numbers ( the second of which was Khaki Shorts Guy), and then the lady I noticed returned.  He went on calling the other five, and then called out 32 again.  Surprise! It was an older man who had just wandered in.  The bailiff said that he was going to go up to see if the judge was ready, and he'd bring us up when he returned.  Someone asked if they had time to use the restroom(!), and he said yes.  EVERYBODY except maybe three of us ran to the restrooms, INCLUDING the lady who had just got back.

He returned moments later, and again called the six people he had first on the list.  Restroom lady was yet again the last one back, but thankfully was not among the privaledged half-dozen.  We had three flights of stairs ahead of us, but were told that we could use the elevator if we so chose.  Not surprisingly, a) the stair climbers made it faster than the elevator riders; b) half of the "starting six" were on the elevator; and c) none of them seemed to grasp the concept that he needed them in a certain order.  Eventually, he got the ducks in a row and we filed in.

The "starting six" climbed in the jury box and the rest of us filled the front three rows to the judge's left.  For those who haven't seen it, the Allen County Courthouse is a truly stunning piece of architecture and I knew I was going to be hard pressed to not be a tourist (in fact, the phrase "paying attention was used three times during the proceedings, and I was looking at the murals around the cupola each time).

Cutting to the chase now, we were introduced to the prosecutor, the defense lawyer, and the witnesses.  The defense lawyer was an older African-American gentleman that might have passed for a butler from some antebellum mansion.  Shortly after the prosecutor asked the first question of the first juror, the Defense asked for a conference, after which the judge had anyone who was to be a potential witness in the case to leave.  That ended up being three cops, two other people, and the victim.

Our case was about this black lady who allegedly was drunk, blew off a stoplight, hit a car, injuring our vic, and splitting.  Then, when she was caught, she gave the cops a false ID.  I expect that from some gang banger or teeny-bopper, but not a fairly attractive, well-dressed forty-something lady.

Our contestants  potential jurors included:  a fity-something white lady who was very quiet; a younger lady who looked like she was ready to burst out in tears 50% of the time; the late #32; Khaki Shorts Guy; an older (not old) lady with short-term memory; and another gal in her early thirties.
Our Prosecutor (his name was Tinkey, and I immediately suspected he was related to Black Suit Guy) didn't seem to be to worried about asking weed-out questions; Jeeves  the other gentleman asked questions that basically laid out his defense tactic:  #1, was the defendant really driving, and #2, did the cop earn immediate credibility due to her cop-hood.  I guessed the last lady would go; she was asked one question about her questionaire by each lawyer, and both times claimed she didn't remember answering that question.  The second lady had said something in the nature of she wasn't sure if she could judge a person, so I figured she was gone, too.  The 30-something was asked about having been in an accident where she was t-boned, so I thought she might be gone.  The guys both had been on juries before, and I wasn't sure what effect that would make.  That left lady #1, and I was sure she'd be the one guaranteed winner.

Out:  Lady #1, crying girl, the late #32, and short term memory woman.  Leaving Khaki Shorts Guy and 30-something lass.

The four new jurors were a dude that had to be related to Flounder from Animal House, or at least was on Michelle Obama's shit list for junk-food consumption; a token black guy; a younger bald-headed guy with glasses; and some dude that was so stone-faced that even the defense attorney said, "Boy, you're a serious one!"  There was something that was on Flounder's questionaire that was so shockingly terrible, that the defense attorney started to ask him, stopped, approached the bench, talked it over with the prosecutor and judge, and simply moved on.  The black guy was asked (as defense did to everyone) about whether the criminal justice system worked or not.  His reply was that usually, unless your poor, in which case sometimes you "get the short end", to which the defense attorney said, "Oh, really?" and everyone laughed.

I figured Flounder was a goner for sure, and probably the black guy.  The attorneys went over their notes, approached the bench, the judge asked the defense, "then you'll accept him anyway?", and then announced that they were all winners and they were the jury for the day.

I was amazed.  My bladder was relieved (or was soon later).  And that is how jury duty went. 

Be back this afternoon (or not) and I'll put the fantasy football results up.


  1. I've never been selected for jury duty. Had no idea it could be so entertaining! ;-)

  2. CWM:
    You have a remarkable grasp of the procedural "stuff" goes down, and explain it so well, I was smiling the whole time.

    And the fact that you chose the EXACT SAME SEAT in the waiting area that I go for...utterly AMAZING!
    (something we have in some WOW factor THERE)

    I usually wash out (thank God...can't stand being there), but I have to "push" for in raising my hand and volunteering MY VIEWPOINT of an otherwise "flawed" system...because whatEVER you put on the pre-summonms "questionaire" is ignored.
    (no matter HOW vociferously you make YOUR case)
    One perk of being OLDER - speaking your mind.

    THAT alone gets others heads turning in your direction...
    Then again, I'm used to being someone's "target"...look where I live...LOL!

    Excellent play-by-play.

    Stay safe (guilty or not) up there.

  3. Never been selected either, was always curious what went on in there when Pauly Shore wasn't involved ;)