I have a new identity, one for serving slabs o' justice.
One day it shows up unannounced, like an obnoxious person you knew from college that you had hoped you’d never see again.
It’s a summons for jury duty; your civic duty for being a counted by the census.
I had served once before, 15 years ago. Here in Gwinnett County, Georgia, jury duty could be as long as a week. Every night I must call to see if I’m required to show up the next day. In my previous experience, I did. It was one long week and the only trial I heard was a fender bender.
I lobbied hard for the death penalty, to no avail.
So here I was again, 8 A.M. Monday. There were over 250 citizens dutifully processed and filed into the large holding room. The officials got us organized into batches of 12. That organization process took three full hours.
I was juror #17 and had the pleasure of being seated in front of two women who chattered on and on throughout the morning. One woman (juror #47) was loud, the other (juror #48) spoke in whispered tones that I couldn’t really hear. Perhaps a neighborhood dog heard her.
Juror #47 is in her early 60s, with black hair. She wore a white cotton pants suit, a blue blouse, tan flats, a blue canvas hat with flowers and tinted prescription glasses.
Juror #48 is about the same age, taller and stouter in brown polyester slacks, a white top, brown flats and a magnificent doo of bright blond hair. What follows are some of the things I heard coming out of juror #47’s active mouth:
“Timothy Geithner got his job in the Obama administration because because his parents were friends with Barack’s mother.”
“Barack was put into power by George Soros, who is his puppet master.”
“The Democrats don’t want to bring down debt, ever! They just want to tax and hurt small businesses.”
Juror #47 (on left) tells secrets at day's end.
“Soros wants to make the dollar worth ten cents. He wants to topple the U.S. He’s done it to other countries.”
“All this pay to teachers and social security and medicare is a big Ponzi scheme.”
“Glenn Beck predicted the leftist activists would cause troubles in the mideast, and look what happened. Rioting in Greece– something’s going on. The left is sending activists to the middle east. All this trouble going on, then it clicked in my head– Glenn said so, too! They’re trying to keep it a secret, but Glenn was waking people up.”
“A lot of people couldn’t handle what Glenn was saying so they stopped watching him, but it was true. Then Soros put out a contract on Glenn. Glenn knew it and said it. Glenn had such courage!”
“You know, that old show ‘The Twilight Zone’– it predicted a lot of this mess. I miss that show. I wish that guy who hosted it hadn’t smoked himself to death. We could use him today!”
“Obama promised everything to everybody and it’s just deceit. The press protected him, but Glenn Beck told the truth.”
“That Michele Bachmann is amazing. Has her own kids plus 20-some foster kids and she’s in politics– how’s she do it all?!”
“The people advising Obama don’t know what they’re talking about. Herman Cain said he’d pick the right people!”
“No matter who the Republicans put up for president, the dems will dig up dirt on them. That’s what they do.”
“The democrats have made this country a laughingstock.”
“A lot of people in this country have no idea what’s really going on.”
“That’s what I liked about Glenn. He said, ‘Do your own research!’, and I did.”
“George Soros is the puppet master. He wants it left, then pulls it to the center. I’ve watched it over and over again, but now I have insider information. Soros pulls all the strings.”
So it went for a couple hours. I never knew how much I didn’t know.
After three long hours of sitting and playing musical chairs to get assigned numbers and batched in dozens, four groups of 12 were ushered into a courtroom where we faced the judge, an assistant district attorney, a defendant and his two attorneys plus a court reporter who talked into some contraption. The judge was a Georgian with a heavy accent and a propensity to mumble. I didn’t hear much of what he said. Maybe that neighborhood dog did.
The gist of our case involved marijuana. We were asked a series of questions from the prosecutor and defense attorney:
“Have you ever smoked marijuana?”
“Do you think it should be legalized?”
“If you do think it should be legalized, could you follow the judge’s instructions to obey Georgia law that says no amount of marijuana is legal– could you prosecute by the letter of the law?”
“Do you know or are you related to any law enforcement officers?”
“Do you believe that Rod Serling and Glenn Beck are angels of truth and that George Soros and Barack Obama are devils of destruction?”
O.K., I made that last question up. Sorry.
Sign outside the courtroom. I wonder what the long umbrella incident was. Anyone have any guesses?
This round of questioning with all 48 potential jurors went on for a good 20 minutes. The first batch of 12 were asked to stay for further questioning while the rest of us got a lunch break.
I believe Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall famously said, “One cannot be judgmental on an empty stomach. Hey, uh, you going to eat the rest of that sandwich, or what?”
After lunch, we reassembled in the big room we’d lived in all morning, then my group of 12 was ushered back to court and into the official juror’s box. Comfy chair, padded with good leaning action. A juror could fall in love here.
Each of us was asked questions by attorneys and the judge. When it came my turn, they confirmed that I had responded marijuana should be legalized. They explained that under Georgia law, any amount of marijuana is considered illegal. Could I follow the judge’s instruction and prosecute on the basis of the law? Good question. I told the truth that while I’d like to believe I could follow the letter of the law, I felt that too much energy, time and money was wasted on these type of cases. There are more important things we should be focused on instead of pot violations. This perspective would naturally have to influence my ability to prosecute to the full extent of the law. There were nods given by questioners, and notes taken.
After a half hour of questioning, we 12 were taken back to the big room to wait another hour while two more batches of potential jurors went through hot box grilling.
Finally, seven hours after my arrival, the 48 potential jurors were brought back to the courtroom and 12 were selected as OFFICIAL jurors to serve on this post trial. I was not selected. Jurors #47 and #48 didn’t make the grade, either.
Perhaps George Soros had them black-balled.
We were dismissed and I left the courtroom. In front of me, Juror #47 found a new friend to tell her political secrets to.
Now, every night this week, I must call in to see if I am required to show up for another round on “Who gets to be a juror?!”
Today, I’m free, but I know so much more than I did yesterday. Justice was served.