Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's Juris, Prudence. Day 1

Dear Prudence:

Woke up, got out of bed, ran a comb across my head.....

Jury duty beckons. I'll try to chronicle the fun here at BobOnARoll.

840 AM
Walk thru a lively Chinatown into the slate greys and granite blacks in the desolate, retail-free canyons of the downtown municipal government. Kinda like I imagine entering Moscow must feel like, without the Bentleys...crossing the border from joy into despair, from life into darkness and slow death.

Arrive early at the courthouse at 111 Centre St to stand in line for security screenings. They appear to have the same security management team as the airports do---at the very peak of the morning rush, only 1 of 3 security lines is open. Harrumph.

In the jury waiting room now, long narrow and dimly lit but with comfortable red leather chairs. Diane Sawyer is explaining court process to us--on closed-circuit cable TV. It sounds like one of her old 60 Minutes segments. The cooing in her voice that I always hear as condescension. Every time I see her on TV, I think of Richard Nixon. Ugh.

A judge welcomes us with thanks and a humorous pep talk. Funniest line of the morning: if anyone is happy to be here, please raise your hand. No takers.

In modest defiance of the No Smoking No Eating etc sign at the front of the jury room, I sneak a blueberry yogurt out of my backpack and begin quickly....hey, wait a minute! Why are there food and soda vending machines in this no eating zone??.......

Five minutes after our first bathroom break. No more entertainment or announcements. Silence except for the rustling of newspapers and tapping on keyboards. Luckily I am sitting next to the cutest guy in the room. Gave him my NY Times as an icebreaker. Smiles.

The waiting begins.......

Two sets of prospective jurors have been called and I have escaped so far. Too engrossed in back issues of The New Yorker to pay attention to what I'm really supposed to be doing here. Luckily they call out names 2-3 times before marking you as absent. Tempted to reprise my role as 7th grade English class clown by sitting in back of the room and making barely audible animal noises.

Loud snoring from the back of the room. Is this my cue?

Summoned. We schlep to 60 Centre St, a block and a half away. The court officer escorts us like kindergarteners on our first field trip. Metal detector screening again (only one position open). En route, I chat with a guy who just moved to NY and got summoned again, having just served on a jury in NJ last month. Is there a God?

Didn't take me long to get into my first fight with the security folks, this one about bringing in my camera, which I wasn't going to use anyway in areas where I wasn't supposed to. Camera is confiscated. Cellphone with camera not confiscated.

We are sworn in and then sent to lunch.

200 PM
Back in the jury room waiting for the lawyers, after a lovely Vietnamese lunch at Nha Trang. Stop at Taiwanese bakery on Canal St for a treat. The Thousand Tears Cake calls out to me.

The guy in the seat next to me turns out to be from Morocco and is a coach and referee in professional soccer. We talk about one of my fave sports topics--youth sports and the variation in training, playing, and coaching practices among different countries around the world.

A long but mostly interesting presentation by the two attorneys in the case. Explanations of what impartiality means in the context of jury service, the work that we would be asked to do, the estimated length of the case, and the nature of the lawsuit. A medical malpractice action related to vascular surgery gone bad on a man's leg.

I know legal remedies of this nature are sought in civil court every day, but, not surprisingly, I have strong views on medical malpractice suits, which I articulated to the lawyers in a conversation in the hallway outside the jury selection room.

They empaneled twenty of us as prospective jurors and questioned the first six (I was Prospect #7), then made their selections and moved on to the next six. I raised my hand when the first question was asked about our ability to be impartial in this case, and that's when I was invited outside. I was quick, polite, and direct. This was one team I was not interested in playing on.

Dismissed. Have to come back tomorrow for another day of this. Why am I so tired after a day of doing absolutely nothing?

Called an old friend M about my day, and was slap-happy from boredom:  Look, M, I came here to send the bad guys up the river, not to Mickey Mouse around with the monetary value of a bad scar on some guy's left thigh! Let's have a good murder case, OK? If I'm going to spend a week of my time down here, someone's gonna fry or you can count me out! Blah blah blah.

So, M, honestly---if you had a case before this court, would you ever want ME on your jury?



Postscript:  Have confirmation from several other friends who have reviewed this blog that they too would not want me on their juries.  :)

Oh well, if I could only get a petition drive going, would save me and the NY court system some time and effort this week.......

Day 2, tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Friend, how do I get that imbeded APOD in my site also?