Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
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Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page
Friday, February 3, 2012
Adventures in civic duty
It's interesting how surfing blogs will trigger memories. In this instance it was a post on The Chubby Chatterbox about jury duty. He told how he had never been called to serve and why he would have liked to have been.
We apparently share a love for the old Perry Mason series. That old black and white drama that was so popular back on 50's TV. I'm not surprised. There are literally millions of us. My late father-in-law collected Perry Mason novels in paperback. I have most of them sitting in my living room bookcase... gathering random dust particles and yellowing while the pages become brittle with age. Much like me, I suspect.
I have been called to jury duty exactly ONE time in my life. That was while I was living in Jacksonville, FL. It was so momentous that I went out and bought new clothes to wear. To be honest, Faye pushed me to do that (and went with me to... uh... "supervise") since she didn't think they'd appreciate my showing up in jeans and athletic shoes.
We were gathered together, we potential jury picks, in a courtroom that was unused for a trial that day. Some sort of spiel was blathered about our "duty" to the community and so on and then we were told we'd be called to go to other courtrooms through some unexplained process during the morning and afternoon. We'd be available for trials that whole week, we were told, which meant we had to show up each day. In some areas, you can call in each morning to find out if you should show up but, in Duval County, apparently it was assumed you would be. Needed, that is.
It wasn't long before my name was called, along with 20 or more others and we were sent to a courtroom where some information about the case was provided. I recognized the case quickly. It was a murder involving drugs and drug dealers. I had read about it in the local paper. This was before the internet and people actually read newspapers and magazines printed on paper. I hadn't read all that much about it and what I read wouldn't have influenced me at all. Let's just say I was aware of it.
We engaged in a group voir dire. I should say the lawyers did; we were a captive audience and were the ones being questioned. Apparently, the prosecution or the defense, or maybe both, felt that our attitude toward the police was going to be important. We were asked if we had strong feelings, positive or negative, about the police and the justice system. We were then asked if we or close relatives or friends/associates had encounters with the police and the courts involving felonies
Not only had I had encounters with the police (both negative and positive) over the years but so had others I knew. Few of these ever got so far as going to court beyond the usual traffic offenses. Except two. One was unimportant and could be understood not to be a factor since I was not involved beyond knowing the principals in the situation but the other involved my brother, drug dealing, a "no knock" warrant, and an "informant." They were most interested in this one, though they wanted few details. It had been more than 2 decades before. I did not think it would impact my impartiality in any way. After all, I was not close to my brother, it had happened while I was away in the Navy (and, therefore, I got only second hand details), and he had come out of it without jail time. I thought he was treated well, more than fairly.
Needless to say, I was dismissed from serving on that jury. Rejected. I went back to the first courtroom (the "holding pen", if you will) and reported in. The bailiff (or whatever he was) asked me why I was there and I told him I had been dismissed. He then told me I could go home. I asked what time I should return in the morning and he told me I was no longer needed, that I was also released from jury duty.