April 19th, 2011

krazy koati

And the judge said, ``This isn't a court of justice, son, this is a court of law''

So here's how the tale of my jury duty service started: I got the summons about six weeks or so back. Maybe it was meant for my father, since we share a name and don't brook with that senior/junior stuff, but I took it since, what the heck, it'd be a week away from the office and would be commuting to a place much closer to home. Better, it turned out they wanted me to report to the county courthouse several hours later than I'd have to report to work, so this was extra sleeping-in time, shorter commute time, and all I'd have to do is decide whether someone had in fact committed a crime. Or maybe get put on a civil jury.

I was leaving my house in enough time to have a several-minutes margin just in case, and ran into the neighbor at whose driveway I park; he'd just got back from Florida so this turned into a several-minutes conversation where I kind of kept mentioning I was really glad to see him but was due at the courthouse really soon. Gradually I got away and worried I as going to be late, but I got to the juror assembly room on the dot.

We waited, and a woman came in to say they were going to be empaneling a jury for one civil trial today, and showed a fifteen-minute video about what to expect from jury duty. It was produced by the state bar association and had no video clips from any movies, Sidney Lumet or otherwise, but it did have one attorney portrayed by a guy who could inspire me to want to punch him just by the way he said the witness's name. And his witness!. Anyway, after that, we waited a bit more and they said we could go to lunch; please report back in an hour and half.

They had brochures of local restaurants, including a guide to how to get to the basement cafe in the courthouse, which was helpfully explained as being ``presently closed''. I went to the restaurant whose fare was billed as ``lunch and dinner selections'', which was the correct way to summarize their offerings. For me it came to sushi.

On returning we waited another half-hour or so, then they turned off the TV and came in to say the parties had decided to settle. They appreciated our service and we had discharged our duty to the community; ``we'll see you in three to five years''. I must say, this was a breeze; I could have done it all week.

Of course, none of this explains why later in the afternoon I was escorted off the Funtown Pier at Seaside Heights.

Trivia: Following (some time after) a 1275 statute, defendants in English courts could freely choose to be tried by a jury, or enjoy the peine forte et dure until they changed their mind; the classic form of this would be being pressed with a gradually-increasing weight of stones. Source: 1215: The Year Of Magna Carta, Danny Danziger, John Gillingham.

Currently Reading: The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind The World's Favorite Soft Drink, Michael Blanding.