Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I reported to the main San Francisco courthouse today for day 2 of jury duty. On day 1 they made us fill out an 8 page form, asking our opinions on everything from health care to lawsuits in general. A few other questions were centered around the main issue of this case (which I'm not allowed to discuss, but it rhymes with as-shmestos).

Today, about 75 of us filed into the court room and the lawyers began the laborious process of reviewing our questionnaires and trying to discern whether we'd be inclined to agree with their arguments. I have no desire to be on this jury (6 weeks!!), but I won't avoid it to the point of lying in a court room. So, I had mentally prepared a slightly exaggerated version of myself, enhancing the non-civil-lawsuit friendly portions of my persona, while still staying true to my core beliefs. I was prepared to put on a nuanced performance where I proudly state my ability to be fair, yet subtlely letting them see my biases.

Of course, the morning kicked off with the usual questions about hardships. These continued throughout the day. People had jobs that wouldn't pay for 6 weeks of jury duty, or contractual obligations, and one guy didn't even get his ass all the way into his seat before he blurted out, "I'M BIPOLAR!!". For the most part, the judge lectured these people about the hardship process and then excused them from jury duty. Bipolar man had to sit his ass all the way into the seat though. He'll need to bring a doctor's note tomorrow.

What was more alarming was the jury interview process. The plaintiff's lawyer had a folksy incompetent demeanor and kept getting tripped up by legal complexities like the seating chart. Meanwhile, he ran into juror difficulties almost immediately. All went well with the first prospective juror but the 2nd one was a doctor with some vague familiarity with the issues at hand. Doctor man took a less nuanced approach to getting out of jury duty by just flat out stating that he was incapable of being fair in this trial.

What??

You can't be fair?!?! Didn't we all learn how to be fair to each other in kindergarten? I mean if you recognize your bias, isn't that the means by which you can then compensate for it? If I were in charge of the jury system, I'd take that bastard and put him in jail for contempt of court. The judge stayed out of it and we moved on.

Meanwhile, Mr. Can't Play Fair With Others had set the bar pretty high for obnoxious juror behavior. The next 22 interviewees all did their best to meet this new standard. One by one, nearly every single one of them explained how they couldn't possibly ignore their biases/morals/experiences/hatred-of-THE-man.

The judge asked some of these people, "Are you capable of accepting that the law is what I say it is?" The answer to that question was often, "No."

One guy spoke of his moral outrage against the death penalty, which was an impressive stretch in a civil trial ("I'm going to sue you...TO DEATH!"). Another prospective juror just summed up by saying to the lawyer, and I quote, "Personally, I wouldn't believe any evidence you presented."

WHAT THE HELL?!?! I go to all the effort of constructing a multilayered courtroom persona and these guys just fall back on the legal equivalent of "Nyah nyah!"?? I don't know if I'm mad because of how they're abusing the legal system or because they're better at being an asshole than I am.

Frankly, the only redeeming portion of the day was a guy named Peter Beaver. Heh. His first name is a synonym for penis and his last name is one for vagina. Oh, man, that is rich. I love a good single entendre. I giggled every time they said his name, which wasn't nearly often enough. Astonishingly, after a lifetime of what I'm sure was relentless teasing, he turned out to be one of the saner people in that courtroom.

7 comments:

The Tart said...

I am cancelling my cable TV, because this jury story of yours is better than anything I have watched in the last 2 months on cable, sheesh.

Mikey, R U makin in up about his name?
What do U wear to jury trial? Do you bring cuppa?

Smooch,
The Tart

BTW how is Miss Daisy & shrill wife? ; )

zelda1 said...

Getting out of jury duty, wow. My great aunt daisy, who colored her hair red with cheap rinse and often it mixed with her sweat and rolled off her head into the the many crevices on her face, loved sitting on juries and considered it her full time job. I hate to think how many people she judged not on the evidence but on her gut instinct. She was, after all, connected to the supernatural relm. If the judge and lawyers only knew how many times the dead contacted and informed her which way to vote. Ahhh, the sanctity of our judicial system.

Mike said...

Jocelyn (or whatever your nom du jour is), no juror behaviors or names were made up in this post. Also, only a few animals were harmed.

No, I don't bring cuppa to jury, but I do bring thermosa.

And the family is doing well. Thanks for asking!

Mike said...

Zelda1, it doesn't surprise me at all that your crazy aunt got selected for juries. It's not so much that they look for crazy people as it is that all the smart people seem to have a way of getting out of it. Plus, I don't think lawyers really want to try and convince analytical types.

tinyhands said...

'Peter Beaver' isn't that bad. I grew up with a kid named 'Prong Salamilocker'. I'd post his middle name, but it isn't polite in mixed company.

Janelle Renee said...

Stupid Blogger. I'm back for the 3rd and final time to post this most awesome comment. You better enjoy it, lest all my effort goes to waste.

So, what did your thermosa wear?

I agree with you about the doctor. Hopefully, he won't find himself in a malpractice suit down the road.

If I controlled Karma:

The jury selection process would take months, because everybody would use and the judge would grant this excuse:

"I've been to various doctors. I'm incapable of being fair, because I have limited knowledge about them."

Mike said...

Tiny, was his middle name ussypay?

jr, my theromsa wore a lovely silver and metallic orange ensemble. This was after yesterday's classic silver and black. Also, let me know when you do become in charge of Karma. Some things are owed me.