Friday started inauspiciously when my phone rang after midnight. The voice coming over the answer machine awakened me almost immediately and my first thought was that something terrible had happened. But no, it was my ex-wife calling to ask if I could find a drawing she had done years ago and mail it to her in California. I agreed and tried to go back to sleep. And tried. then tried some more. I recall seeing 2:35 on the clock and finally drifted off after that, only to be awakened around 5:00 am by a clap of thunder.
Yielding to the inevitable, I arose and started getting ready to face the day. I found the drawing, put it in a box and called the nearest Fedex location, guided by a dim memory that is was open 24 hours. The answering service said it opened at 7:00, so I figured I’d stop on the way. When I arrived, I saw the manager, Michael, leaving the store…which opened not at 7:00 but 7:30. To make a short story shorter, he was willing to help me out after he got his coffee at the nearby McDonalds. In these days of horrific service, that was a great experience and I know where I’ll go for my shipping needs from now on.
After that, I parked at the Leon County library (free parking for jurors) and ran into someone else heading for jury duty. Fortunately, he had been called up for jury duty before and knew the way-I had a map, but my sense of anti-direction always gets me lost.
While a guard at the security checkpoint was a bit gloomy, everyone else was surprisingly cheerful. I had expected it to be something of a grim and uncaring affair, but everyone was actually rather nice. The judges, clerks and bailiffs I dealt with actually made this a positive experience. Plus, I also got to meet several interesting people, including two other professors, a fellow runner, and a lawyer who had been a philosophy major (who also once worked with another friend of mine who is a runner).
While my experience may not have been typical, it was certainly vastly better than I expected. In fact, I found the process of jury selection fascinating and was impressed with how well everyone conducted themselves. While I still have concerns about the legal system, the folks around me seemed sincere, professional, empathetic and committed.
After going through the process, I was not selected. But, I had learned a great deal about how the system works and met some new and interesting folks. Overall, it was a very positive experience. Previously I had felt dread and dismay at being summoned, but I am actually glad that it happened. Of course, if I had been selected and had to spend days away from my regular life sitting in a courtroom, then perhaps I would have a different outlook.
Of course, courts would be different if this world was like the D&D world (if you are not a gamer, it is best to stop reading now…):
Prosecutor: “Blah, conditio sine qua non yadda blah de minimis blah.”
Defense Attorney: “Yadda, post factor blah mea culpa.”
Me: “Judge, this is taking way too long. As a paladin I can have this done in under six rounds.”
Defense: “I object ipso facto!”
Judge: “This is unusual, but I will allow it. Everyone roll for initiative.”
Defense: “3, damn!”
Me: “Detect evil!”
Prosecutor: “What the hell, ex nihilo?”
Me: “Wait for it. Normally I’d have this done by now, but the evil spillover from the lawyers is really interfering.”
Prosecutor: “I object!”
Me: “Done. Bailiff, might I have your weapon?”
Baliff: “Of course.”
Me: “Guilty. Smite evil…pow!”
Fellow Juror: “Damn, you took his head clean off. Was he really guilty?”
Me: “Well, he was evil…so he was guilty of something. Best to just get him now, before he gains enough xp to level up.”
Fellow Juror: ‘Works for me. I’m heading to lunch, want to come?”
Me: “Sure. Let me loot the body first, though.”
Defense: “Hey, he hasn’t paid me yet!”
Me: “Okay, I’ll give you 20% of the loot.”
Defense: “I want 50%”
Me: “I’ve got more smite evils left…”
Defense: “20% is quite generous…”