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.

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