Yesterday, I got my mail, flipped through it, and let out a huge sigh – a jury duty notice from Kelly Mullins, jury commissioner. I immediately started figuring out how to get out of it – and not because I don’t like jury duty (see below), but because I can’t do it this time – really! There’s no one to cover my classes – really! There’s not. BUT when I write my letter to Ms. Williams, I will not ask to be excused altogether; oh no! I will ask for them to postpone my service – jury duty is great fodder for writing. Let me prove that point since I sense some rolling of eyes and snorting from the readership.
A few years ago when I lived in San Francisco, I was called up for jury duty. At the time I was working a job that made me crazy (did you see the Super Bowl commercial for Career Builder? That was me!), and so a chance to be away for a few days with a good excuse sounded wonderful! (Oh, and SF Federal Courts, where I was called, pay $40 a day for service – sweet! That little income plus my salary that my employer was required to still give me made me a little flush for the week.) I called in the first night and was on – I was due to report at 8am the next morning.
So I showed up, filled out a questionnaire, sat, and read, and sat, and read, and then I was let go about 1pm, too late in the day to make it to work. AND I had to go back the next day . . . I made it through round one of jury selection. Yippee!! The next day I sat and read and sat and read, and then a clerk came and asked us which of us could serve on a jury if the case went for several months. My hand shot up about five feet over my head (and I’m only just over 5 feet tall, so you can see I was excited). Out of the office for months – YES!!! Then I was sent home for the day, again too late in the afternoon to make the 45 minute commute to work.
The next day, I found out what the case was – we were to be the jury for a prison gang case; the gang had plotted and attempted murder on the local district attorney. Talk about stuff for a story. At this point, I was probably the only one in the room who was excited – but I was excited enough for the rest of the 45 grumpy people. A premeditated murder with prison gangs – this is the stuff of books. As I left the courthouse that day, I even called my mom to tell her the good news (and yes, I do realize the sort of sick irony in being excited about an attempted murder).
On day four, I actually got to go in the courtroom. I sat in the actual jury box. I smiled at everyone politely, particularly the nicely groomed men in collared shirts who sat across from me. They looked me in the eye; they smiled. I smiled back with a little tilt of my head – how nice! Then, I saw this teardrop tattoo by one man’s eye; the neck tattoos on the guy next to him suddenly came into focus. I breathed a little gasp, kind of like Alice did when someone did something naughty in Wonderland – these were the defendants. Perhaps I should stop smiling at them.
Eventually that morning I was excused from jury duty. I wasn’t asked any questions. I didn’t give them any more information than what they got on the questionnaire. One of the lawyers – I suspect the lawyer for the defense – used one of his opportunities to excuse a juror to excuse me. I was furious, despite the fact that I felt a little wary since I had kind of flirted with the men on trial. But still, book idea down the toilet. Yuck!
So you see, perhaps I would get a similar case on this next round of jury duty. Although in this case, since it’s the local court, I’d probably know someone involved; I may have even taught someone involved – but then, that would make a great book, too.