Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A jury duty story

The government likes to call jury duty our "civic duty" in order to make us feel bad about hating it, but we know what we know. Everything about jury duty is dreadful. The waiting around, the getting behind at work, the possibility that we will end up on the Scranton Strangler case and be stuck in a courtroom for weeks...it's all dreadful. Alas, we all have to pay the piper at some point and this was my time. 
What I didn't expect was that I would be walking into the year's best comedy. Allow me to set the scene: 
My number gets called fourth from the end, which at first, was a really unfortunate place to be called. Especially once the lawyers started going juror-by-juror asking their questions, I realized that I'd be at the end of a very long-winded Q&A. This was complicated by the fact that the two lawyers were like Statler and Waldorf without the comedy. 
The plaintiff was also in the room, which I wasn't expecting. He looked like one of the aliens in the first "Men in Black" movies crossed with Quasimodo, which was kinda entertaining. He sat in the corner and grumbled a few words to his lawyer every now and then. 
His lawyer was this short, very loud-speaking, man from Boston whose accent was thicker than his waistline. His long comb-over toupee was a dark charcoal color while his actual hair was white as could be. He spoke loudly, yet incredibly slowly–some might even say glacially–and he was the type of man who thought his wit and humor was sharper than it actually was. He also enjoyed repeating himself and restating things he'd already said, but in a more cumbersome way. 
The defendant's lawyer was more down to Earth, except when he had to challenge the first lawyer because he was giving away evidence (happened), started defending his client (happened many times) or when he slandered the defendant (again...happened). The argument became so heated that they had to remove themselves and have the judge sort it out before they continued. I liked the defendant's lawyer much better, perhaps because he had a "Miracle on 34th Street" Santa vibe happening, perhaps because he wouldn't take crap from the first lawyer, but I did.
Because they were so long-winded, they didn't even get to me on the first day. On the second day, they arrived late, just to tell everyone to go take a break. It like watching someone slip on the ice in slow motion, except you knew it was funny so you didn't try to catch them. The plaintiff waddled in late too and his lawyer motioned with his sausage-like fingers for him to go sit in the corner. It was all very strange.
I was content for this to play out for as long as it needed to because I am deep into Jane Fonda's memoir and this was giving me ample time to continue reading it. But as it turns out, the case had something to do with the plaintiff suing Con Ed for negligence that apparently injured him. I'm honestly sure that happened because...well...it's Con Ed. But they also told us this wasn't the first time this dude had sued due to injury. It wasn't even the second time. This was a pattern, in my opinion, and since I saw it as such, I was not chosen to be a part of this jury. 
I watched as the other potential jurors stared at me when I picked up my coat and left the room. I was tempted to yell out "FREEDOM" George Michael-meets-"Braveheart" style, but I thought better of it.
On my way I went, away from the courthouse and back to work. I did my "civic duty" and I met some characters along the way. They may have just been cantankerous real-life Muppets, but I can't say I wasn't entertained while I sat there.