Thursday, July 26, 2007

Justice Brianna Style

Today I was supposed to go to Splish Splash with Amy and spend the day eating ice cream and getting sunburned, but instead I had jury duty. My first 3 hours of civic duty involved:

  • 83 minutes of pedantic instruction on the difficulties of tearing along a perforated line and just how unlikely it was that I was ever going home (I believe the phrase, “Save it, I don’t care.” was used).
  • 60 minutes of musing over exactly how many of my tax dollars are being wasted keeping the Queens Civil Courthouse a frosty 42 degrees in July (~$89/year).
  • 17 minutes of admiring a guy outside tooling around on a solid gold bicycle with a red velvet seat, deciding he must be on trial for being the biggest pimp ever, hypothesizing that the cops were likely just jealous and considering becoming one of his hos.
  • 30 minutes viewing a repeat of a pro jury duty film starring Ed Bradly and Diane Sawyer which I first saw in a California court house 4 years ago and which I believe is called, “Stop Your Whining Bitches.”

I probably should hold back a bit on the whining since Queens County had seen fit to provide me with free wireless internet access so I was able to use my laptop as a personal heating device while sending out emails begging for pity from friends and coworkers. In the following hour, while making laps around the large waiting room in an effort to keep the icicles at bay, I contemplated ways to ensure that I would not be making the one hour, three train trip back to Jamaica Queens.

I come from a long line of civic duty shirkers and hope one day to live up to my mother’s high standards. The one time mom made it into the questioning room it was in regards to a case involving a neighborly dispute over pets. When asked how she felt about pets mom said, “Well I’m a responsible pet owner myself but I have a neighbor whose dog repeatedly got into our horse pasture -- luckily the problem went away after I paid a visit to the neighbor and told him that the next time I saw his dog on my property I would shoot it in the head.” Unfortunately I’m nowhere near as good a bluffer as mommy. While filling out my jury questionnaire I noticed that they ask you to let the bailiff know if you’re a felon which got me thinking. What is the most minor felony that I could commit that would allow me to get out of jury duty for the rest of my life? Is there some service that could find an unobjectionable crime that I could take part in which would only result in a fine and no jail time? I would happily go down to Texas and buy a vibrator if that would get the job done. Apparently the punishment for just not showing when summoned to jury duty is $1000 or 30 days in jail so if I can find a felony with less of a punishment it would seem like a smart investment to just get with breaking the law. I walked across the room and took a cutting from one of the decorative plants in hopes that stealing government property was felonious enough for now.

Finally my name was called and my 19 new BFFs and I were lead (“single file, no pushing, there’s enough civil justice to go ‘round”) into a jury questioning room where the strangely hip heavy prosecutor explained that his client was suing over a car accident that took place years ago. At the time of the car crash he didn’t appear to have any injuries but he has since realized that he is scarred for life and would feel much better if he had a big fat check. It was at this point that I had what I really hoped was a brilliant idea and not an idea likely to get me held in contempt. As soon the questioning began I made with the very obvious note taking which I was hoping would have three parallel effects:

  • Provide much fodder for late night blogging (see: NOW)
  • Make me seem annoyingly interested and inquisitive
  • Possibly result in being removed from the jury for being a VERY FAMOUS BLOGGER

It turns out that my tactics for getting dismissed from a jury are much more complex than those of the other 19 potential jurors I entered the room with. Every person that I witnessed being questioned had obviously gone with the “act too stupid to be on a jury” plan which resulted in questioning that went something like this:

Lawyer: Do you think people always tell the truth?

Potential Juror: <5 minute pause> ummmmm I don’t know...

Lawyer: Can you imagine a situation where someone might not tell the truth for any reason?

Potential Juror: uhh maybe… I don’t really understand the question...

The lawyers seemed so used to this that I almost felt bad for them until one said, “I don’t know what computer science is!” Shortly after this winning phrase was uttered he asked the juror if he, a Comp Sci student (aka some sort of techno whiz), would be tempted to go home at night and google words or phrases that he heard in the trial. I immediately thought, “Of course! How could he not? Is this illegal!??!” The prosecutor seemed intent on convincing us that when on a jury you’re pretty much not allowed to use the internet – if this is the case I am so going to jail if I end up on a jury. Yesterday I may have claimed not to be at all addicted to the internet but now that I have faced the possibility of being prohibited from accessing this sweet cake of knowledge frosted in naked women and sprinkled with the corn nuts of celebrity gossip I have no doubt that even one day on a jury could lead to serious withdrawal. I talked to a lawyer friend about this issue (see that lawyer guys? I have LAWYER FRIENDS – I’ve been corrupted with her knowledge I totally should not be allowed on a jury.) and she didn’t think it was really illegal but the judge could ask me not to do it which would obviously force me to agree to something that I am incapable of doing and could result in him tossing me in jail if I don’t learn to lie about my love affair with the magic tubes.

I was eventually called up to be questioned for the position of “alternate number 1” where I made sure to put on record all of the following

  • “I’m an Atheist so I don’t believe in God”
  • “I’m actually very interested in tort reform, especially in regards to limiting excessive payouts.”
  • “My mom testifies in A LOT of medical cases, testifying is practically her favorite hobby after shooting dogs”

Unfortunately mid discussion of my love for Google and it’s sweet sweet knowledge a police officer knocked on the door and forbade us to continue as all government work must stop at 4:15pm. Which means that tomorrow I’ll be back for more frostbite and fun times– If I never update this blog again you’ll know I’m either out defending justice or rotting in jail.


amy said...

I can not believe you're back today! I did my most to *try* to be on a damn jury (I think I'm very honest. I totally think people deserve money for pain and suffering, but only if they really had pain and suffering. I could *totally* be unbiased.) and they decided to send me home at 11:30am. Reverse psychology... gets 'em every time.

so, when are we splishing? I learned if we buy our tickets online three days before hand, we get a 15% discount.

Anonymous said...

OK - I just heard that you got booted from the jury for this seriously funny as hell post. The ironies are life are just too much some times! :) K

amy said...

you probably got dismissed because you called the prosecutor "hip heavy"- damn, that's harsh to write, then send him to your blog! Passive aggressive much bri?