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. 


  1. HA what?
    HA - you have also been on a jury?
    HA - the fact that you are not in this nation currently exempts you from jury duty?
    HA - you have just written a paper on The Crito?
    HA - you are going to send me a thousand cookies and visit me.
    The last one. Please let it be the last one.