By: Matt Gordon
Few things get me as hyped as a good old-fashioned jury duty summons. And yesterday, it came. I was summoned! Courted, if you will. While the popular people all around me gloat about this wedding or that event to which they are invited, I now can match their desirability.
“I’ll be out that week, I’m sorry. I got invited to an exclusive thing. Invite only. Ciao.”
Trouble is, the whole elimination process. Last time, I got cut in the final round. Simon didn’t like my falsetto or something. Truly, all day I sat in a chair and listened to people tell us about the case and then ask us random questions. Then they’d take breaks—lots of breaks in jury duty—and march us to a room. Then they’d march us back in. Then they’d march us back out. It was the most marching I’ve ever done.
The Jury Room (JR) or Court Crib (CC)—as I attempted to get the jury of my peers to start calling it—was really fun. They had all sorts of stuff for us to do in there. Like chairs. There were a bunch of them. So we could sit or stand, really at our leisure. I even traded chairs every now and then because there were enough for everyone to have two or three, and even more as the day progressed and people were asked to leave because they had face tattoos or hated America or had Ebola or were married to lawyers. That is the thing about Jury Opportunduty—as I tried to get my buddies in the Court Crib to start calling it—people are very open about all sorts of things. We’d march into the big courtroom and the judge would ask about any medical reason for us not to be there, and you’d think an auction was on. Hands shot up with surprising vitality and the next hour or so was like a telethon of sorts, as people sobbed their way through their various maladies—anal fissures, herpes, migraines, shingles, leprosy, IBS—it was a real who’s who. The guy next to me fell asleep just to prove his narcolepsy. It just showed me how very brave and committed we Americans are, to show up in such a state. It also made me aware that it wouldn’t do to reveal any sort of cowardice among these courageous comrades, nor to disclose the meager 104-degree temperature I was running when I left my house.
The invalids were eliminated and we were marched out again to sit in chairs or stand around—America: our choice. Also, we could look at replica government relics that hung on the wall. This was a real treat. When not seated, one could peruse a framed map of the county lines or gaze at a picture of the first courthouse. I found the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence and whiled minutes away wondering if there really was a map on the back that could lead me and Nic Cage to great treasure. Then I moved on to some hundred-year-old vintage easement rulings, before, once again, selecting a chair to sit in. There was even a toilet we could use when it wasn’t occupied by one of the sixty other people in the room. I never actually found that window of opening. I think the IBS sufferers were really clogging things up. But it made for a pretty fun recess from staring at history: walking over to the bathroom door, jiggling the handle, finding it locked, and then walking back to a chair. What a day!
But it was supposed to be so much more. I had been invited for the week, and then, just like that, we were marched into the big room for final cuts and I was asked to leave. I pretended not to hear my number called—several prior jurors had already claimed to be hard of hearing, so a precedent was in place—but the shrewd judge wouldn’t have it. I called, “Objection, your Honor!” as a last-ditch plea for justice, but apparently that is above the juror’s paygrade. The verdict was in; I was out.
If I am going to get my full week (or more!) I have to be smarter. First, I need to dress for success. The first time I looked like a scrub. This time I was thinking maybe I would wear scrubs? I feel like doctors and nurses probably have a better shot at getting selected because they are trustworthy. Plus, with all the other jurors suffering from things like bubonic plague, it would probably comfort the court to know a physician was on hand. That is presently my wardrobe choice, but my back-up is to dress like an actual judge. I have my graduation robe still, sometimes I wear it to bed because it breathes. Perhaps, declaring myself a man of the court, one who takes these proceedings very seriously, would help my cause? My quandary with this outfit is the common one—powdered wig or nay? It is a classic courtroom drama, and I guess the jury is still out.
Aside from dressing for the part, I need to embody democracy, order, bureaucracy, justice, and bureaucracy. So first things first: the march. Last time, I just sort of walked in line like some dummy at the mall or something. Obviously, this marching about is very crucial or else why would they have us do so much of it? We are marching here and there all day. So I’ve been working on staying in cadence, and getting my arms really into the swing of things. I’ve practiced marching backwards and sideways, marching on my hands, marching with my eyes closed, marching to a beat, marching to the beat of my own drummer, marching to the beat of another’s drummer, marching in like a lion and out like a lamb (complete with sound effects). You only get one first impression, and I want that courtroom to take notice: Beware the strides of march, and all.
Before and after the march, I plan to answer every question in whatever manner most audaciously showcases how perfect I am for the role of Juror #1. When the judge asks if there are any health reasons why any of us cannot serve the court, I will raise my hands. Both of them. I may even stand, if my robes won’t get ruffled from all that up and down. When it is my turn to address the court, I will tell them that I am a picture of health, and the only thing that sickens me is an allergy to injustice. I will offer to do a shuttle run and sit-and-reach, if it so pleases the court. When they ask about any connections to law enforcement, I will graffiti my fellow jurors. When they question if we keep up with the news, I will become an uninformed imbecile before their very eyes. It is the role I was made to play, and I will have my day—nay, week—in court!
But, in closing, I think what will really take me over the top is in closing. Yes, I am preparing a closing argument. Before the final cuts, I plan to approach the bench, full-march. I will throw in some we-the-peoples and if-it-pleases-the-courts before telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. Unless it is better if I lie, because, if so, I will do that. I will perjure myself; Lord knows I’ve done far worse. Then, once I have everyone’s attention, I will testify. I will prosecute. I will cross-examine and even examine crossly. I will prophesize, if the mood takes me. I will do anything to let the record show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that I am fit to serve my country through the civic duty of marching around, zoning out, and taking a week off work. Victorious, I will then quite literally rest my case, retiring to my chambers to sit in a chair. If it is unoccupied, I may even choose the seat of justice. Duty calls, after all.