It’s almost like getting that “Greetings, you’ve been drafted” letter. It was a call from the Shasta County court system needing my presence up at the court house. It was my first call since moving up here to God’s Country.
I have served on two juries and consider myself to be a reasonably fair juror, so Richard scraped the snow off of my windshield and turned on my seat warmer, and I grabbed my book and headed off to town.
My panel was called into a courtroom right away. Once in the courtroom, I was the second person to be invited to sit in The Box. That made me juror number two. The questions began. The patient little attorney was so young that I found myself wondering where he had parked his skateboard when he came to work that morning. He asked the same series of questions of each of us.
Do you realize that it is the prosecutor’s problem to prove that his client is guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt? Can you decide on a verdict by only what you hear inside this courtroom? Do you think that if a person is in this court, he must be guilty? Have you ever served on a jury before? Did you reach a verdict? And so forth and so on.
He asked these questions twelve times.
Over and over…and over…
How do those court people stand this day after day? What keeps the judge from falling face forward onto his big old desk? What keeps the recorder from falling over sideways, taking her little typing machine with her? What stops the bailiff from shooting Question Boy?
Just about the time I was slipping into a coma, the questions changed to general personal information. At least that was a bit more interesting. The questions went on all morning. Several people were thanked and excused for having an experience close to the event that brought the defendant to this trial.
We finally broke for lunch. I took that opportunity to go out into the sleet and walk around the area for forty-five minutes looking for my car so I could take it for some gas. I’m not allowed out unchaperoned too often because of my propensity to lose my car. Thank goodness I had packed myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
We reconvened at one thirty. Now the questions started to get interesting.
“Have you or has anyone in your family ever been arrested, causing you to have dealings with a court?” Hands went up all over the jury box. A man reported that his son was arrested for murder but it was ultimately reduced to manslaughter by the end of the trial.
A girl said that her husband had been arrested and she had a restraining order out against him because he had molested their daughter.
Oh my god!
The next person said, “My mother, my brother, my two cousins have been arrested. All were DUI’s.”
Then the next person said, “My husband was arrested for burglary and put in jail for it twice. He’s my ex now.”
“My word!” I thought, “Twice? Is she a slow learner, or what?”
The next person reported that her mother, her two brothers, her sister and her aunt had been arrested.
“Good Lord!” I thought, “That’s two mothers out of four people! I just can’t believe that! What am I sitting in the midst of here?”
The defense attorney suddenly stood up and said, “I would like to excuse juror number two for cause.”
So. If you should ever decide that you don’t have time to serve on a jury, but you have no particular reason to get yourself excused, I give to you this possible means of escape. Simply think about what the others are saying and let your face register your dismay. Defense attorneys will not wish to have a prissy, narrow-minded person making decisions for their client.
Ha! If he only knew.