civic duty vs. past infractions
got picked for jury duty. arrived at courthouse around 745am. went thru security checkpoint and into jury room where roughly 120 people gathered in leather chairs after being issued scannable ID cards. we watched a 10 minute video on the extreme value of our collective presence, a video clearly designed to neutralize those of us who felt supremely unlucky to be picked. then, we waited. no grand jury selection today fortunately (a potential month commitment) and we were assured that the bulk of us would only have to contribute one day. an hour and a half ticked by. the juror room lady stood at a podium and read off a gaggle of names. not it. i continued to sit.
11 am-ish I get called. a panel of 12 to be whittled to 6. We file upstairs to the 3rd floor into a small courtroom. The judge explains it's a DUI case and I have the sudden sensation that i'll be dismissed b/c i was arrested (wrongly) for DUI many yrs ago. Each potential juror runs thru a quick list of background questions - name, occupation, living situation, feelings about DUi's - and then the two lawyers ask questions. Since it's a criminal case the burden is on the state and the atty for the defendant says she'll argue her case only w/ state's evidence. her questions are along the lines of "do you believe that a police officer can be wrong?" and i do and I am now quite certain that i'll be dismissed b/c of demonstrable bias. i tell briefly about what happened in humboldt in 1996 when i blew under the legal limit but the CHP officer was convinced that i was under the influence of marijuana which i was not. The judge and defendant and attorneys step away to the judge's chambers and return in moments. 6 of us are dismissed, which does not mean we get to go home, only that we have to return to the jury room in case our services are required for an afternoon case.
lunch break. burrito. return
sit. sit. sit. the juror room lady takes the podium. there is only 1 remaining case on the afternoon docket so most people are about to be dismissed "except the following names..." of which i am one. I sit, I read and read having brought both the ny times sunday magazine and a recent issue of the new yorker. across the day: i finish the ny times crossword, i read nicholson baker's thoughts on kindle, i read michael pollan's cooking/food essay, i read an oddly sympathetic and lionizing profile of michael savage, i read a putrid piece of fiction by joshua ferris, i read about obama's iran policy, i dabble in ian frazier's travelogue of siberia (but i cannot commit)...time passes. the kind juror room lady takes the podium.
the case has been dismissed.
we are free to go.