Friday, January 8, 2010

Ego attack number 3772 or why I suspect that I will never have to serve on a jury

Earlier this week on Monday, I was at the courthouse. I received one of those delightful jury duty notices.

This was actually a postponement from last year. The court had asked me to show up a couple of weeks into the fall semester, I replied that my winter break started on such and such a day, and that I would be happy to serve then. For those who are tracking my bad personality problems, you probably want to note that not only was I unwilling to make time to have coffee with anyone (though my version is that I was not actually asked), I was also unwilling to take part in the legal system at the start of the semester. Obviously, I think that I am the center of the universe.

Anyway, I figured that I would sit there until noon, reading The Answer, then go home and write. That is what I have done on all other previous jury duty days.

I was wrong. My juror number was actually called for the second batch of possible jurors. "Can you repeat that number?...Oh, that's me."

I am not sure what I sounded like at that point. The lady behind the counter said that I sounded eager. At this point, I might have been. I have always wondered what it would be like to serve on a jury.

My enthusiasm did not survive the day.

The judge thought that the jury would be selected by noon. It wasn't. Only round one was done by noon. I was there all day.

Somehow, I managed to survive round one. Hey, I am as surprised as you are. We can all name a dozen things that make me less than the ideal juror.

Turns out that they were more concerned with people who had sympathy or hostility towards immigrants. Either a positive or negative feeling towards them allowed one to find the door quickly.

I am neutral about the situation. I figure that each immigrant, legal or not, is a potential citizen. My ancestors were immigrants who decided to hightail it out of a country when the going got really bad, so who am I to throw stones at the current immigrants.

The other issue that the lawyers were concerned with were weeding out those who felt strongly about identity theft.

Based on the questions and when various people were excused, my imagination conjures the following story: Immigrant, possibly illegal, brought some fake identification that turned out to be based on someone's real information, so that they could work in this country. I am not sure if this is what the charge really was, but I figure that it is a good guess.

I survived until final jury selection.

I knew that I was going to be rejected as a juror when someone else cited something I said. That is one of the hazards of being a former restaurant manager; you end up knowing things like why immigrants are hired (they are cheap, and more likely to do jobs than native-born Americans protest doing), and the difficulties involved in being able to catch fake documents. Being citied meant that my opinion might carry more weight than it should.

It is not the only possible reason for me to be rejected. I started out eager to serve on a jury, and I had admitted that openly. That probably looks like suspicious behavior. I am also loud and confident.

But based on the sequence and pattern of those excused during the final round of jury selection, I would have to say that there was another reason for the lawyers to give me the boot.

The first person that the persecution got rid of, the defense wanted to keep. I figure that this person was the persecution's idea of the world's worst juror, and the defense's ideal juror.

Then the young, inexperienced, and those who admitted that they occasionally go with the crowd was showed the door.

Here is where the beginning of my ego attack can be traced to. Turns out that I was not the only media member pulled in, there were two others. (We also had a high number of school teachers, and one university professor.)

Earlier I was joking with one of my fellow potential jurors that I guessed being a freelance writer was not the crime I thought it was. I said because both me and the next person I am about to mention were still there; I did not know about the third media person until round three.

So after the bottom of the barrel was kicked out, they showed Ed Stein to the door. For those who do not know who Ed Stein is, Ed Stein is a political cartoonist who used to work for the Rocky Mountain News. He still does work online. (Note that he has been called to duty several times, and has never served on a jury yet. Go figure.)

The next person to be excluded was Sam Hill from Alice 1059, one of the local radio voice talents (does anyone use the term "disc jockey" anymore?).

It was right after these two were told that their service was done, that I was informed that I too was unwanted on this jury.

As I said this is an ego attack. I am sure that my sister would tell me that I am delusional. That being an internet and college newspaper journalist is not cause to be excluded from jury service. But my ego loves the pattern. I am in the same category as Ed Stein and Sam Hill---Cool!

I am sure that my sister will remind me that I am not important, special, nor in any way a real writer. But we will see in the future if I ever serve on a jury. I am betting that I won't ever serve on any jury as long as I am a freelance writer.


Lavanah said...

You know why you aren't likely to ever sit on a jury as long as you are a freelance writer? Because doing that kind of work (successfully enough to feed yourself) requires you to know how to think independantly and draw your own conclusions. Neither sides attorneys want that. They want people who can be lead, point by point to the view they are being paid to produce.

Morgan Drake Eckstein said...

And here I thought it was the fact that I had a public soapbox. *wink* Yeah, that is why when the one person cited something that I said, I knew that I was going to be released. Can't have me influencing the jury, can we?