Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How To Get Out Of Jury Duty

The title of this post is a flagrant attempt to draw Google hits, I’m fairly confident that “How to get out of jury duty” will prove even more popular than “naked girls next door” but I may be seriously underestimating the number of 13 year old boys on the internet. After Thursday’s painful trudge through the halls of justice I returned on Friday to continue my attempts to prove that I was not at all suited for the role of decider on matters other than, “Do V-neck make my boobs look hot?” (yes, always) “Does this recipe have too much butter?” (Not even possible!) and “Do programmers *really* need sleep?” (Sadly, yes.).

Unsurprisingly, much of the questioning on day two focused on my annoying beliefs that independently gathering information to assist in making an informed decision was generally a good idea and that the internet houses a few valuable and accurate pieces of information hidden amongst the gigabytes of lies. The lawyers were insistent that all important information would be given to me at the trial and that any googling I did would result in hit after hit of inaccurate information (“Not everything you read on the internet is true.” “Nor is everything you hear in a court room.”). We debated the evils of the internet (with me citing this and this) and my abilities to distinguish fact from opinion for a good 20 minutes before the lawyers left the room to discuss ways to kill me that would be easy to cover up. I felt pretty confident about my impending dismissal and even the remaining potential jurors commented in a congratulatory tone that I was definitely going home. I have to assume that the lawyers were out of peremptory challenges and were not creative enough to come up with a way to dismiss me with cause because they returned to inform me that I would be serving as an alternate juror. After eliciting a promise from me that if the judge instructed me not to look up information on the internet I would refrain from googling rather than be held in contempt (*gulp*) the defense lawyer jokingly asked how I would feel if people went out and googled me. I replied that I wouldn’t care since I knew exactly what the search results would be and that I could make things easier for him by giving him my blog url. I admit that this generous offer was made with personal gain in mind, I was hoping that both lawyers would read the blog and come to regret their decision to put me on the jury. If I was going to spend the next week tethered to the court house I didn’t want to be the only one wishing I was somewhere else.

Monday morning I reported back to the refrigerator of the Queens County jury waiting room and whittled away two hours of work (thank the god of irony for free wifi) while awaiting my turn in the jury box. Finally the bailiff arrived and lined myself and the other 7 unlucky jurors up to take us to the court house. It’s amazing how much jury duty resembles an elementary classroom trip to an assembly. After being led down a winding path through the court house library and up a back staircase that had clearly once been reserved for slaves, maids and hunchbacks we petulant eight were left to stew in a 10x10 room on the 6th floor. Only a few minutes passed before the bailiff returned and summoned me to the court room. I steeled myself for what I assumed would be my promised lecture on the evils of Google.

The judge’s uniform combined with the courtroom setting proved extremely effective at keeping my big mouth shut – two smarmy lawyers in a room full of plastic chairs I can handle, but stand me in the old carved oak jury box in front of a robed and scowling black lady judge and I all but melt into a puddle of apologies. I was ready to turn yellow and swear off the internet at a single word but it turned out that I wouldn’t have to.

Big Scary Judge: Have you corrupted any of the other jury members with your views on jury duty?

Little Insignificant Brianna: No, I’ve been doing work all morning; I haven’t spoken with any of them.

BSJ: Ok, we’re going to dismiss you as a result of your views.

LIB: Thank you!

I cannot say definitively that this blog saved me from jury duty but I think it’s a pretty safe assumption. I don’t know exactly which of my views the Queens country court system found objectionable enough to give me the heave ho though there seemed to be some implication that the main problem was my general desire not to serve on a jury which ignores all of the evidence pointing to “getting out of jury duty” as American’s new favorite pastime. Personally, I suspect the main problem was my referring to the prosecutor as hip heavy.

In all seriousness (just kidding, I promise to continue my trivial ranting) I think it’s clear that when it comes to the internet the US justice system, much like newspapers and record companies, is caught somewhere between denial and full freak out so for the time being if you want off of a jury (or if you just like to mess with lawyers) blog about it.

1 comment:

Bill Purdy said...

This is some seriously funny sh*t (censored, so as not to offend sensibilities of any of my co-workers who might find themselves reading this comment. I never curse. Please remember that.)