My Jury Summons

Seems like just last month I received a jury summons but apparently it was 2 years ago. Where does the time go? Beats me.

All I know is I opened that all-too-familiar envelope I suspected was calling me to jury duty. Either that or a traffic citation. But I haven’t been pulled over in years so scratch that. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not against fulfilling my civic duty. But it doesn’t exactly thrill me either.

Having said that, I can think of a dozen other things I’d rather be doing. But to be honest with you (and when am I not?), if I were a defendant in court I’d want someone like me on the jury. Why, you ask?

I believe I’d be an impartial juror except with accused animal abusers. In that case, I say hang the person. Well, maybe not hang, but torture slowly. I suppose that’s also going too far. But is it really? Oh, and also spousal and child abuse cases. I’d struggle with impartiality there. And with burglars. And robbers. And of course, murderers. Guess that pretty much eliminates me as an impartial juror, huh?

I remember one time I sat in the courtroom waiting for my name to be called. But I found the defense attorney so impossibly arrogant and obnoxious, I decided I’d say so when the judge asked if anyone felt they couldn’t be impartial. Seriously, I’d have had a hard time listening to that jerk pontificate in a week-long trial without harboring resentment or wanting to slap him silly. Fortunately, the jury was chosen before I got a chance to put myself in contempt.

Once I actually made it into the jury box but the judge asked us to raise our hand if we felt we couldn’t serve. So I raised mine. He asked for my reason. (Homeowners were suing because their homes were damaged when a humongous building was constructed on the hill above them, causing severe structural damage.)

I asked the judge, “You want me to say it from my seat?” He nodded. So I began, “I’d driven out to the site with friends to see the damage and…” He immediately cut me off and asked me to approach, just like on TV. A slew of defense lawyers surrounded me, along with the lone prosecutor.

I explained how I’d seen garage doors that wouldn’t fully close anymore, cracks in sidewalks, gaps in windows and crooked front doors. These were people’s dream homes being compromised from the weight of the massive structure. It was then I heard those 3 magical words from the defense: “Strike for cause.”

My ex-hubby was once a jury foreman and the defendant, accused of stabbing someone, represented himself. Consequently, he had a list of the jurors, their addresses and phone numbers. One afternoon I received a threatening phone call from him. Apparently the defendant was calling family members of the jurors to intimidate us — from a phone in the courthouse if you can believe that. I guess it’s true:

One time I postponed my court date by 6 months. When I was called again, my mom didn’t have long to live. No way was I going to miss her last weeks by sitting in a courtroom. But once I presented her medical records, the judge dismissed me, for which I’m forever grateful.

So on May 20th, a new experience awaits at the Marin County courthouse. I’m PIN number 42 so if court is happening that day, I’ll be first up. But being it’s a Friday, I’m told the odds are good that court will be cancelled. We’ll see. At least if I’m chosen I’ll have something to blog about, right?

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