Monday, March 07, 2005

Ass Marathon- A Tale of Jury Doody...

I reported to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at approximately 7:20AM this morning for my civic duty...jury duty. There was already a considerable queue of pissed-off people by the time I arrived. I was quite excited, however, by the potential prospect of me serving on a jury for a criminal case. I'm 32 years old and this is the first time I've been summoned for jury selection. I have a friend who's 24 that's already had jury duty 4 times. What's up with that? I studied political science in college and have a moderate interest in how the legal/judicial system works. I think it could be really interesting to be on a jury. The others standing in line with me did not share my excitement, apparently. I followed all the rules and didn't bring the lighter I always carry but don't use. I didn't wear my rings or my Qantas duty-free business card holder. I even took the tiny little Swiss Army knife off my keychain. I even wore the recommended "business attire". I even wore a tie. I was ready.

I was herded into a "men only" line for the security-check. No problem. I was then directed to the shearing/branding room (aka the Jury Selection Room). A very friendly clerk directed me to fill out the appropriate paperwork and take an information sheet and a juror tag. So far so good...until I make my way into the room. It's bloody frickin' hot in the room. The heat was on full blast (it was about 45 degrees outside)! I look around for empty seats and there are still quite a few this early on. I made my way to a hidden corner (the taint, or gooch of the room) in the back and find an available aisle seat. I read the information sheet and hunkered in for the long haul. I decided to take a gander around the room. Holy shit! It looked like Taylor threw up (For any of you out-of-Michigan readers- Taylor is a city in the Downriver area of the Detroit suburbs also known as "Taylortucky". I also believe it has the highest "mullett to decent hair" ratio this side of the Manson-Nixon Line (Mason-Dixon Line)). Actually these people were probably kicked out of Taylor for being "too white trash". Maybe they're from New Boston.

I only spotted two other ties in the room. Practically everyone was wearing jeans...baggy-ass jeans. I'd say that the room was pretty well racially mixed. It was like a cross-section of the UN, but the most of the whiteys were definitely in the NASCAR Cult. Luckily I brought a book (on the recommendation of several friends). Half of the people in the room didn't bring anything to read, but they're probably the half that haven't finished listening to their "Hooked on Phonics" tapes yet. I was making pretty good progress in my book when a video at an overhead moniter came on. It was a cheaply produced video about jurys and how things work. The video started out well enough with a clip from the fantastic, original Twelve Angry Men. But then a judge appeared and said that that's not a way for a proper jury to behave. Damn!

Somewhere around 8:30AM a kindly woman named Gina welcomed us and went over the information sheet and how the day would work. Wayne County Court works on a "one trial or one day" term of service. Anyone who does not get selected for a jury by the end of the day can go home and may not be called back for another year. Fair system, methinks. Gina is empathatic to all of the potential jurors and is pretty cool. She also advises everyone not to go in to work if you finish early. She says that you're legally excused until at least 4:30PM. Why go in to work and ruin your day? I dig that. She said that they'd start calling people at around 9:00AM.

I got back into my book when all of a sudden the moniters came back on. They'd be showing movies all day. How nice, I thought...until I saw the opening credits for Miss Congeniality. Kvetch!!! Gina apologized that some of the moniters were not working. Mine was working just fine. Damnit!!! Luckily I was saved by the bell, but not before I noticed a few of the individuals in the room. There was...
"Four Mountain Dews and Two Bags of Chips Girl"
"Cheap Suit and Feathered Hair Guy"
"Jokey Guy"
"Sleepy in All Denim Ensemble Guy"
"Gangbanger Guy 1"
"Gangbanger Guy 2"
"Doesn't Want to Sit Guy"
"Nervous Middle-Aged Lady 1"
"Nervous Middle-Aged Lady 2"
"Smelly Guy"
"The Ferret"
"The Gigglers"
"Really Bad Toupee Guy"
"Really Bad Comb-Over Guy"
"Moves His Lips While He Reads Guy"
"Crossword Puzzle Girl"
"No Sense of Personal Space Guy"
"Doesn't Listen Well Lady"

I was in the first group called. We were to report to the 4th floor and wait outside of Courtroom 402. As soon as they get off the elevator "Doesn't Listen Well Lady" and "Cheap Suit and Feathered Hair Guy" walk into the courtroom...only to be politely dismissed. We sat there for over two hours watching some very interesting people walk in and out of Courtrooms 401 and 402. I was really hoping to get called for this jury because there were some really fascinating (in a train-wreck sorta way) folks. There was the demonic-looking white-trash guy with the shaved head and uber-long Satan beard. There was the 5-foot-tall-sixty-something-cheap-Sears suit-and bolo tie-wearing-cigarette-yellowed feathered grey hair-having-talks with a Kentucky accent-although I haven't heard him speak guy. He was a hoot. There were assorted white-trash folk wearing inappropriate things coming and going. There was the crying lady. Other than watching the casting rejects from The Dukes of Hazzard mostly read my book. Finally after over two hours of waiting we were told that a jury would not be needed for this case. Damn.

We were sent back down to the Jury Selection Room and the room was still mostly full. I found a seat near where I was sitting originally and plunked my ass down for the long haul. This time Men in Black was on the
moniter. Slightly better. I was half watching the movie/half reading when they started to call the names of our same group again. This time, however, they were calling us in groups of about 10 at a time to report to the office. My name was called, so I grabbed my stuff anticipating to be assigned to wait outside another courtroom. The people in front of me are all smiling. They let us go. We were done. It wasn't quite noon yet. I took Gina's recommendation and didn't go in to work (Hi Tina, please don't tell anyone if you read this). I drove off and tried to figure out what I'd do for the day. My roommate had the day off and we work together. He's really snitchy so I figured I'd better lay low until late afternoon.

I decided to stop by Glen's store and picked up some cool stuff including an out-of-print Madeleine Peyroux CD, a Straight to Hell Returns soundtrack, and a cool Slowdive compilation. I still had lots of time to kill so I decided to go see a movie by myself. I've only seen a few movies by myself before. It's kind of eerie during a matinee. The only movie that hadn't already started was The Aviator. And it's 3 hours long...perfect! The movie was good, not great. Leonardo Dicaprio did a pretty good job considering I think he's mostly talentless (expect for his great role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape?). I love Alan Alda and I think M*A*S*H is the greatest show in TV history, but he certainly did not deserve an Oscar nod for his role in this film as Senator Brewster. I think he played it kind of clumsily. Sorry Alan. Cate Blanchett did a great job as Katherine Hepburn, but I still think Kate Winslet should have won for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I think that the character development could certainly have been better considering the 3+ hours they had to work with. I left the theater and got home around 6:00PM. Perfect! I played hooky from work and it felt great.

Although my experience wasn't what I had hoped it would be. I was overall very impressed with the operation at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. The employees are surprisingly nice and helpful. The dregs of society are a little scary, but I'm used to them by now (I did once work at the Gibraltar Trade Center in Taylor, after all). I look forward to being summoned again and I hope I actually get selected to serve on a jury. Call me crazy...



Blogger Brian P said...

The same thing happened to me at Jury Duty, both local and federal. Not a bummer for me though, as I don't have the time, not the attention span to sit through a trial

9:04 AM  

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