Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Jury Is Out: By Jimmy Petrol

Jury duty hit me from behind, so to speak. Odd to be called, what with mandatory sentencing and all. I thought they just locked you up if the DA issued an indictment; that is unless you have lots of cash. Then I know they just change the address of your country-club membership; when those congressmen go to jail, it isn't where we go. They still get to play golf and have phones. I'll bet if Donald Trump goes to jail he'll get to keep the hairpiece.

But that is all beside the point. It isn't the job of the Jury to design appropriate detention facilities for the hardened Senatorial Criminal. Curious as to the exact job the jury might have, I toddled on downtown and sequestered myself the rest of the Chosen, ready for anything. After all, I might be called upon to unravel a particularly salacious divorce proceeding! Dish that dirt, sister!

Oddly, the whole thing felt good. How nice to have a chance to be a part of the great social machine, to perhaps lend a hand to Dame Justice in her tireless quest! I saw myself as part of the "sacred twelve" that, nodding wisely, would help preserve truth, justice and the American way. Before the bus managed to lumber into the city center, I was leaping tall buildings and saving infants from burning orphanages in my adolescent heroic fantasies. But then came reality.

If you have had jury duty, maybe that you had a good time. Certainly, the work was easy. In fact, the work was too easy. There were the preliminaries; no parking, so take the bus. Be on time! But wait until noon to get gathered into a hallway with fifty others and filed (eventually, around one P.M.) into a courtroom full of lawyers, cops, the accused and The Judge. Here comes the easy part.

The "work" of the Juror is simple. Review the evidence and the law, as written. Just don't bring along any of your own ideas of right and wrong; the judge doesn't want ‘em. All you have to do to get on a jury is to promise that you can "find a verdict in the law, without regard to your personally held moral beliefs". That is about as simple as they can make it; leave your brain at home. If you happen to have any morals, forget about it. The law isn't about Justice, so moral judgements are inappropriate in the American courtroom.

I wanted to be on the Jury. Really. But then, I had to take exception when the Good ‘Ole Boy Judge asked me to promise not to let my silly little moral values intrude on the workings of the law. He misunderstood, of course; he thought my moral issues were specific to the case. Quite wrong, you know. I just won't do what I'm told. Pretty much ever. Unless, of course, you're in three-inch heels and carry a riding crop.

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