My jury duty

I waited for my kids after practice today with another parent. He was my jury foreman. We reminisced about the case.

His son went through elementary school with my daughter, and his nephew with my son. I know his wife well, and knew him for years — as long as he was with her.

My jury summons came last fall. I used to love a jury summons.

It may have said, “Report to serve, as is your duty as a citizen of the United States,” but I read, “Come and spend several hours reading your novel in peace before being dismissed.”

I reported for my day of heaven, took my seat among 300 strangers and opened my book.

A man was looking at me, smiling. I smiled back, nodded and made my best effort to look absorbed in my story.

He kept with the giant smile, and when I looked up — because who could resist looking up? — he threw in an upward chin jerk.

Now I was getting a little scared.

He stood up and walked over to me. He was 7 feet tall if he was an inch. The lady next to me took a powder and he took her seat. Thanks, Lady.

Then he said hi to me by name. Ah. We knew each other. That’s a horse of a different color. I would have to play pretend-to-recognize-while-frantically-thinking-through-all-the-places-I-know-people-from.

I suck at this game. I made him identify himself.

I ended up grateful to have a friend sharing the experience. The trial tried my emotions.

The defendant was a paranoid schizophrenic drug addict who completed his sentence in a mental hospital after robbing a bank. He did this by lying that he had a bomb in his backpack.

Ours was to determine whether he should be released in the face of his total lack of rehabilitation.

To extend his sentence, it had to be proven beyond doubt that he was seriously mentally ill and a danger to others.

The rub was that he was the gentlest person I’d ever heard of. It came down to the gray area of what danger meant.

He was unstable and unpredictable. He believed he received messages from the CIA, sent through household electronics to the chip in his eye. They told him they controlled tsunamis and earthquakes.

He robbed the bank because he needed money to save people from the tsunamis. He was awfully sweet.

It was argued he would never hurt anybody. It was argued he created dangerous situations.

His mother cried. I stayed strong.

But when his father cried it was too much. After the verdict, I scurried to the elevator and let flow when the doors closed.

I’m still bothered by it, mostly for the loss of looking forward to a jury summons.

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3 Responses to “My jury duty”

  1. Fred Bauman Says:

    I used to hate jury duty even though the company paid for the time. I had a summons to appear at 10 a.m. on this day, and I worked a couple of hours before leaving for the courtouse.
    I had a cup of coffee in our lunchroom where they had a punch board with prizes. I punched the last hole and won — a stuffed teddybear.
    Now I was late so I grabbed the teddybear and ran to the courthouse. Four blocks, too near to drive.
    Clutching my little toy I barely made it into the courtroom for jury selection. Can you believe I was dismissed without cause by the prosecution with nary a peep of protest from the defense?
    I was never called for jury duty again, but had I been, I would most certainly have tasken Winnie the Pooh!

  2. Gunky Says:

    am I missing something? is this a cliff hanger?!

  3. T. Says:

    We let him go.

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