Friday, January 31, 2014

Jury Duty was Unexpectedly Cool : Part 2

Anyway after lunch on that first day we took an oath.
Boom. Jurored.
For awhile I was in a funk and probably making a distinctly grumpy face as I wondered why so much karma had lined up to hit me in the face of late.
As my self-pity fog lifted I started to actually notice things.

About the case:
There was a car accident. The plaintiff was in a Toyota that got hit by a Bentley. The plaintiff was suing for a good chunk of money.The majority of the jury ended up thinking that the plaintiff was a ton of hooey. They thought she saw a Bentley, decided she could sue for a bunch of money, and went about seeing doctors to build a case.

Other more different observations about life on a jury:
1. My first reaction to anything that I am forced to do is to revert to High School behavioral patterns.
 It felt kind of like high school. You have to be here on time and sit here and listen to things. You do the things told you by a person who has a better chair and decides when you get to go to the bathroom[1].
Unfortunately my response to these aspects in high school was to be a complete goof. So when forced into a similar situation I found myself inclined towards being a complete goof yet again.

I didn't actually but I was tempted to.
The seriousness of a situation and the amount of decorum (mental fortitude for not cracking jokes) that I posses are inversely proportional.

2. Team Jury - suffering makes rapid friends. I have always found it easier to get to know people while on a sports team. Shared suffering makes a good conversation starter. Also they are the only people you recognize in a building full of marble and lawyers.
Fellow jury members: "Duuude."
Me: "Duuuude"[2]

3. Never ever sign things under penalty of perjury without reading them.

4. You don't get to say anything.
This is hard for me. I have been in discussion only classrooms for six years. Listening to somebody speak without being able to say, "I disagree with that because..." nearly killed me.
I am still stunned by any situation in which I cannot say, "Explain what you mean by that."
You don't even get to throw your notebook at lawyers who use "per se" incorrectly.

5. The Judge was not an old roundish dude with white hair.
 She did not even have white hair.
The Judge said good morning to me one time and I just sort of stared at her like a deer in the headlights.
Me : Is she talking to me?
Me: Yes
Me: What am I supposed to do? 
Me: Well idiot, when people say good morning to you then you usually say "good morning" back to them. Throw a "your honor" in there because you kept making eye contact with other jurors and cracking them up - so it wouldn't hurt to be respectful. 
(out loud)
ME: "Hi?"

      Everyone in the jury box gets to spend an exceptional amount of time staring at the people involved in the case. It's like watching a TV show for six hours a day that only has five people on it- the judge, two lawyers and the two defendants. Minor characters come and go. You quickly become attuned to people's peculiar facial expressions and habits. For example, the plaintiffs lawyer looked near tears or fury on a constant basis.

6. The Stanley Mosk Courthouse has an "interesting" architectural design.
This design involves having no windows so when the judge dismissed us for an afternoon break I went in search of the outside to be reminded what it looked like. No problem I can get back in time.
Except it turned out that there was a set of elevators and escalators that did not go to the 7th floor at all. And so I half ran around the building while lawyers gave me funny looks.
Later in the week I was telling this story to some fellow jurors as we came back from lunch.
I said, "...and then I got totally lost in here, because I'm smart like that."
And a lawyer walking ahead of us who was not even in the conversation started laughing at me.
He looked at me and said, "This building was built in stages."
"Stages," I said, "is the right word for it."
You know life is going well when random lawyers stop to laugh at you.

7. "Will Juror for candy" [3]
There was candy in a bowl in the juror room. I am pretty sure that the candy was 99.9% responsible for the lack of juror rebellion. The other little bit being that tiny issue of contempt of court. AND the other serious incentive to show up promptly: if you were late all the other jury members sat in the deliberation room and talked smack about you.

8. The foreman of the jury will probably not allow you to send your important but off topic questions to the judge.
No one would let me send any Kookaburra Song  related questions to the Judge.
I was also not allowed to ask: "Why does the word "juror" make people sound like they are mumbling?"
The Foreman for some reason would not let me ask any of these questions.
Instead he let some other people ask a question and he made me write it out because my penmanship is legible. O the injustices!

When are you going to get serious.
In the next post this one is too long now.

[1] In relevant news I had a lawyer for AP government and she drew up nearly legal documents for bathroom passes. The bathroom passes had very specific rules and prohibitions written on them in tiny print. Stuff like: "I am going to the bathroom and not anywhere else. Once in the bathroom I will not commit illegal actions involving drug substances and or elicit actions that would get me expelled from this institution of secondary learning. I understand that each student in this class has received one and exactly one restroom pass for this semester. I understand if I use this bathroom pass during this semester I will NOT get another one under any circumstances. Trading or donating restroom passes to other individuals is not allowed." Ect. ect. and you had to sign them.

[2] Thank god we all speak Californian.
Non Californian readers let me help you out.  “Dude” is an exceptionally versatile word and its intended meaning really depends on how you pronounce it. Phonetically I am unsure how to represent it properly but I can tell you that in this case “duuude” is intended to mean “not cool”. Though in other circumstances it can mean "What is up? I had five beers, went surfing, and kissed a shark." 
Everyone stop and think about how many times I have just said "dude" out loud while trying to figure this out. Mayhaps I will write a linguistic treatise. 

[3] I turned juror into a verb. I do what I want. Also “Will be on a jury for candy” does not have the same ring to it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Jury duty was Unexpectedly Cool Part 1

Jury Duty the Saga[1]

This is a post all about how - I got put on a jury at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in LA and ended up liking it.
Hold the phone.
Yes. liking it. At the end of my week long stint as a Juror I felt that it was a worthwhile use of my time. I had a significant attitude change and I want to tell you about it.

Before I started I went to Google to check out how many other people wrote articles about jury duty being a neat thing. So I started off by typing in "Jury duty is".

It seems that jury duty might not be everyone's favorite thing.
Also let's all try to ignore the headline right below that. 
No wait lets not ignore that...what the what?!?
I foresee some legal problems for Georgia's legal system.
Civic duty? You?...You liked it?
Why? How? What kind of permanent brain damage would lead you to form this opinion? Did you land smack on your head while trying to do a flip off a swing set as a child?

It is a long story hold tight.
Also I think the best jokes are in the footnotes.

Jury Duty: In the beginning was a summons.

The automated phone message said: "Juror number_ 1235278 you need to report to the _ Stanley Mosk Courthouse on _ Wednesday January 8th 2014 at_ 9 AM". 
Boogers. My luck has run out.

Okay I will go down there. It won't be that bad.
Sit there all day - maybe get some blog work done using the wi-fi and go home. Maybe I will finish that paper on Platonic Dialogues that I have been meaning to get to. [2]
I mean I am not going to get put on a jury or anything right?
I am too young to be on a jury. None of my friends have been on juries - so - I can't be on one. 
          Examining this chain of thought might lead you to believe that I have never been trained in formal logic. That conclusion would be false. I have in fact studied an unpleasant quantity of formal logic (Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferio, BAM) however, it appears that I have not allowed this training to effect my day to day thinking ability. 

Thus I entered the jury pool with no exception of being put on a jury whatsoever.
Imagine my surprise when, ten minutes after getting there, my name was called out on a loudspeaker and I was sent up to the 7th floor courtroom 73 with about 20 other grumbling people.
The court clerk said: "Welcome to court 73. Our Judge is Elizabeth R Feffer. Put your cell phones on silent. We haven't had a cell phone ring in court for months and I want to keep it that way."
After she let us in someone's cell phone rang.
It was Nirvana.
I am pretty sure the only thing that stopped the clerk from killing him was that the judge was sitting right there. 

Twelve other people are called up to the jury box and they answer a litany of questions.
I am good. Cool.
Not good. One of the potential jurors says that there is no way he can possibly examine the evidence and make a fair judgment ...because he had jam for breakfast... or he was once a lawyer and his fairness ability has deteriorated.[3]
And he is excused. Not good.

The clerk calls a new name, “Elizabeth Rosema”.
That’s my name. This is not happening to me. I intelligently leave my backpack behind as I go sit in the jury box.
Her honor begins to ask me questions. I stumble through them like I have recently been tasered.
Me: “No I have not been on a jury before.” What is…what…is going on?
Her Honor: “Do you think that you can judge fairly between these two parties in the case before you?”
Me: “Yes.” Time moves slow motion.

After I tripped idiotically through the judges questions the lawyers got to ask me questions.
Plaintiffs lawyer: “You said that you were teaching?”
Me: “Yes.”
Him: “Are you getting your credential?”
Me: “No.”
Him: “What do you want to do? What are your plans for the future?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Me quietly: “I am a cartoonist.
Thought rant:
What is this a job interview? I don’t have to tell you about my career or lack thereof. This lawyer just signed and sealed my life into the “deadbeats” pile. I have questions for him. 
(These questions are more fun if you read them quickly and angrily)
Who were Dante’s guides in the Divine Comedy? I bet even IF you have read it you still miss St. Bernard. Which famous character in the Iliad is Aeneas related to? What is a point without location? Why is Descartes “Geometry” called a Geometry even though it lays down the fundamentals of what we usually think of as Algebra? What is calculus? Do you even know what an epicycle is? 
What... you don't know? Who is the deadbeat now?

He accepts me into the jury as sufficiently stupid.

[1] Literary Critic: “Liz a ‘saga’ is a story told about ancient Scandinavian and Germanic history. Sagas are written in Old Norse. Are you going to write this in Old Norse? I don’t think so. Your use of literary terms is appalling.”
Liz: “ Oh… okay thanks for that. Could you just tell me your address so I can send you a complementary Nobel prize for Literature? NOT. Also who resembles an ancient Scandinavian warrior person more than yours truly? I am white and blondish – not to mention being a part of the National Society for People Too Tall for Heels. I personally think I would do better in life if we lived in an age where I could just fight people and win or die.”

[2] Yes I actually brought the Complete Works of Plato with me. I swear it under penalty of perjury.
Socrates: You were grouching about civic duty while in possession of a collection of my dialogues? Do you even remember the Crito?
Me: I do. You were on the verge of execution and your buddies came up and said, “Dude you don’t need to chug that hemlock. We can spring you from this dump for sure.”
Socrates: And then I talk about law and the importance of obeying it and what I owe in terms of civic duty - which includes obedience to the law even if it involves my death.
Me: That’s a little intense man. Also I am not from Athens. Solon shmolon.
Socrates: You shirking civic duties is the worst. This is the worst dialogue ever. Interlocutors are supposed to say, “Yes”, “Indeed”, and “By the gods Socrates!”
Me: Indeed.

[3] Tip: This person is generally despised by other jurors. Everyone here is capable of saying, “No I do not think I can consider the case before me and judge fairly between these two parties.” We could say that and be Scott free. We don’t say that, however, because it isn't true. BUT if you are the kind of person who is willing to say this sort of thing – then you probably shouldn't be allowed on a jury anyway.

[4] This is a footnote to nothing. The computer just tried to spell-check Crito to Frito. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Breakfast of Champions - all about Graham Crackers

Yes today's cartoon is about what I had for breakfast.
What do you mean that my live theme song is "never grow up"?

Anyway my sudden rekindled love of graham crackers led me to wonder why they were called graham crakers -
( This flame for bland substances reigned when I was about four. I remember graham crackers and apple juice were as popular with pre-school kids as kegs are with college students.)

Today's very unexpected headline:

        Graham Crackers and Sex. 

 They were invented by a Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham. He aimed to suppress carnal urges through boring diets. The world is a strange place.

Also I now feel that there should be a thing of stuffing graham crackers in the faces of eros crazed people:
Friend 1: "I am head-over-heels-stupid-in-love. I am over the moon. She is so hot."
Friend 2: "Calm down. Have a graham cracker."
                "Think about what it costs to get a divorce."

Questions about this are forthcoming - If chocolate is supposed to increase libido and graham crackers are supposed to stamp it out then are smores a confusing food substance?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Laugh Kookaburra Laugh

For some reason I feel like giving this a thesis title.
 An examination of important connotations and questions about Australian fauna and wildlife which arise from the well-known children's ditty entitled the "kookaburra song": or in other words "why is this square headed bird the king of the bush?"  

And this picture I drew - which depicts a kookaburra with a purple Mohawk for some unknown reason.
 In case you forgot the words to this timeless classic they are here. You can be reminded of a song that you were very confused about because you had no experience of most of the nouns in question - except monkeys.
Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,

Merry merry king of the bush is he.

Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,

Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

Eating all the gumdrops he can see

Stop, Kookaburra, Stop, Kookaburra

Leave some there for me.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,

Counting all the monkeys he can see

Stop, Kookaburra, Stop, Kookaburra,

That's no monkey, that's me.
Let the barrage of questions commence:
1. Does the kookaburra laugh?

holy crap that would be a yes.
Yes they laugh. They laugh creepily. Why am I watching these late at night I might not sleep.
He who laughs weirdest laughs less weird than the kookaburra.
2. What kind of laugh is it? Are they laughing at you or with you? They are chuckling about your midlife crisis.
3. Seeing as he is perpetually laughing should he not be dubbed "jester of the bush" rather than "king of the bush"? I don't know. That messes up the song's meter. Jester is too many syllables. Try to be considerate and understand the challenges facing children's song writers. Jeez.
4. What the cuss is a gum tree? Is it like maple syrup in any way or form?
It is supposed to be a eucalyptus tree. Kookaburras don't even eat eucalyptus tree gum -according to the infallible and intensive research I have just done on Wikipedia (which involved not even clicking on the Google search link but rather reading the tiny synopsis below it). All pending answers brought to you by the power of Google - long may it reign.
5. Seeing as it is not maple syrup in any way or form why would I want the kookaburra to leave some there for me? Do people eat it?
You would not want to eat it. It won't kill you, but it will make you ill-ish. It will kill your cat. Eucalyptus hates cats.
6. Kolas eat it. I can eat it too. Those are not questions. Kolas have developed weird digestive superpowers which allow them to consume strange toxins - because Australia is a mean place like that and to survive you must be able to ingest unhealthy quantities of toxins - much like a frat party.
7. Why do Australians insist on using strange words that present phonemic and spelling challenges? Kookaburra, eucalyptus...who named this crap. There are all together too many consonants in a row in the word "eucalyptus".
8. What is it that the Kookaburra is counting seeing as there are not monkeys native to Australia? Are the monkeys a figment of his imagination? How did his ability to number objects arise? Does it count as counting if he is counting no monkeys because there are none of them?
And in response we shall offer this generic beginning to every academic essay: "For thousands of years literary analysts from varying cultures and backgrounds have pondered the meaning of the classic folk kookaburra song." blah blah..
The author of this classic song must have been pressed for time during this last verse here- her favorite tv show was about to come on or something.

No worries Kookaburra that's not a monkey. Not a figment of your imagination - it's me.