Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jury Duty

I know what you’re thinking; I’ve been summoned to jury duty and I’m here to bitch and moan about it. Not true; I’d love to be called to jury duty but so far it’s never happened. Actually, I was summoned years ago but I was scheduled to be out of the country at the time and couldn’t appear. I was extremely disappointed.

I’m thinking about jury duty because I just returned from the post office where I dropped off my ballot for the upcoming local election. My late mother-in-law refused to vote because she claimed this was how they got your name for jury duty. Unlike her, I make a point of voting, not just to encourage my chances of being summoned but because I believe my vote is a ticket to the National Political Bitch Fest, and I don’t want to be left out.

I’ve mentioned before that I was raised on Perry Mason and I’ve always fantasized about sitting in the jury box when someone in the courtroom, someone not even implicated in the murder, jumps up and says, “I killed the bastard, killed him real good! He was a monster and deserved killing.”

At this point the one confessing to the crime, who would have gotten off scot-free if he’d have kept his mouth shut, has just arranged an all expense-paid visit to the electric chair. He’s treated to a nice new set of bracelets and led out of the courtroom.

I guess I shouldn’t be so concerned about jury duty because I have a situation that would exclude me from serving. I have a dark little secret, one that I hope you’ll keep to yourself—I have lots of friends and acquaintances who are cops. Those of you who know me will find this hard to believe because I have such a problem with authority and have lived most of my life outside the box, to use a worn expression, but it’s true. You see, Mrs. Chatterbox has worked for the local police department for many years. Now our son CJ works for the department as well. Neither are sworn police officers; both work in administrative roles servicing the department.

The police know the Chatterbox family extremely well. I can’t tell you what a joy it is to be driving down the road and have a cop car pull up beside me…just to wave. Granted it’s better than being pulled over because of marijuana smoke billowing from my car, but it’s still unnerving, especially if you’re a shitty driver like me. These cops adore Mrs. Chatterbox and serve as a reminder that I’d better not cross her. All she needs to do is snap her fingers and fifty cops would descend on our house and pistol-whip me in my driveway. A joke, of course, but I’m not laughing.

I mention this police connection in reference to jury duty because of what happened the last time Mrs. Chatterbox was called to serve. During the elimination process an attorney asked my wife, “Do you know anyone currently working in law enforcement?”

“Yes,” she admitted.

The lawyer asked, “How many?”

“Around a hundred and ten, maybe a hundred and twenty.”

“Thank you for your service, you are dismissed.”

It seems that if you’re chummy with cops they don’t let you serve on juries. Since I know nearly as many cops as Mrs. Chatterbox, and since we’ve had several of them to our home for dinner, I have no doubt that I’d be dismissed from jury duty as well.

Too bad. But I still have Perry Mason. And as I’ve said before, that Della Street is one fine looking woman.

Have you served on a jury? Do you want to?


  1. Not so fast there, Mr. "Hang 'em High". I served on my city's Civil Service Commission (which oversees the police and fire departments), and a good friend (now retired) was a chief felony prosecutor for Dallas County. I honestly told the lawyers that at voir dire and was STILL seated on a jury. But I didn't mind, as the $6 a day is pretty good money these days. ;)


  2. I got called once and sat in a waiting room for a day and a half but never got picked to go into any court rooms. What I found sadly ironic is that they basically imprison you for that day and a half by locking you into that room with a bunch of other people, not letting you even go to the bathroom except at assigned times. Though at least I didn't have to worry about being raped by some big burly dude, so that was good.

  3. I absolutely agree with you that if you don't vote you can't bitch! As for jury duty I wouldn't mind here in the UK -- but I'm not a citizen -- at least not yet. And when I was in the US I was never called. I wouldn't have minded except for any cases involving capital punishment -- which I do not believe is right.

  4. I've never been called for jury duty, but Dr. M has numerous times. Three or four of the times it was for a county where we PREVIOUSLY lived, so he got out of those. The other times he's called the number each day but never been asked to actually go to court to serve on a jury.

  5. I got called one time (one of those sentences where you have to check the night before for a month to see if you have to miss work the next day). When I was on the panel during selection, they released all of the law enforcement cronies first. It was a rape trial and I wasn't too happy about listening to any part of it. I was very relieved when the next question to the group was "who believes in DNA evidence?" My hand went up faster than a squirrel up a nut tree! There were only a few of us with hands in the air and we were all asked to leave.Strange, I know.
    I hope that someday you get to court - hopefully not as the defendant!

  6. I was on about seven or eight juries when living in San Diego, including a big murder trial (nobody stood up and said they did it). Somehow I was always picked. Knowing cops doesn't stop you, I worked for a police department and it didn't matter to the lawyers. It depends on the case. If part of the defense is that the cop framed him, then yes, friends of cops are gone.

    Recently got a letter from the Vegas court (been here nine years), going next Wednesday.

  7. Hello! I'm new to your blog from the critique blogfest, and I'm happy to meet you!

    Here in Idaho, knowing or being a cop will NOT keep you from jury duty! I was called to jury duty for the month of November, but never actually made it onto a jury. I, too, would like the opportunity. But, I don't think the defense lawyers liked me ... couldn't imagine which of my answers bothered them!! ha. oh well.

    As far as critiquing your blog: It looks great! I love the header and the background and the post was easy to read. :)

  8. Never served on a jury, and around here they get names from the drivers license rolls, too. As for voting, good for you!

  9. I've been called several times in my life, but always dismissed. I must have an ugly face. I hear they're getting more liberal in choosing jurors, though, even including lawyers in the pool. They must be getting desperate!

  10. Here from the critique my blog blogfest. I think your blog is just fine to be honest. The header is so unique!

    On Jury duties, I've not been on one but hope to some day.

  11. I never have and would like to do so.

  12. I have sat in the jury box and was dismissed for many reasons: I'm pro union, I'm a social worker, I've experienced anti-Semitism, yada yada. I believe if you have an opinion on anything, you're disqualified. At least that's been my experience.

    Perry Mason is from my neck of the words and I think his extended family (grandkids, great grandkids, maybe) still live around here. We celebrate Perry Mason days in his honor. You'll have to visit No. Cal. some time.


  13. I was on the jury duty merry-go-round. For a couple of years I was getting called about once each year. It turned out I was on the list more than once.
    They claimed it was impossible... then I was summoned twice in a month and was able to show them.
    Our county actually lets people volunteer for jury duty.

  14. I guess I forgot to mention I've been empaneled three times, but only had to hear one trial. The other two took pleas after the jury was empaneled.

    I feel bad for a lot of the folks who are called because they have to travel a long way to court. Court is only held in the county seat, which is a long way from where some of the folks live

  15. It's Feb 1, and it's time for the Critique my Blog blogfest! Just thought I'd remind you :)

    Anyway, I went on jury duty a few years ago. I was in danger of being stuck on an 8-week case, but ended up with one that was about 3 days instead. It was a fascinating experience and it got me out of the office, which I enjoyed ;)

  16. I forgot to mention the only complaint I have about my jury duty experience was that at the very last minute, I was one of the jurors dismissed (because there were too many of us; the dismissed two were chosen "from a hat" in a sense) so I didn't get to be part of the final decision. The other woman who was dismissed with me said, "I feel cheated!" haha. But we were both relieved when the verdict came down - because we agreed with it.

    1. I'm here to critique your blog for the fest!

      1. The heading of your blog is incredibly awesome. The angry bull, the title, the "art of pure bull." That alone makes me want to follow your blog.

      2. The posts are so narrow that I have to scroll down pretty far to read them. You have plenty of space to use if you want to stretch them out.

      3. The labels don't make sense when there's only one post per label. Maybe you could but them into bigger groups?

      4. I scrolled through the titles on your archives, and they're all compelling and interesting. You have a good voice in your posts and your titles, and I wish I had time to stay and read more! I'll be back.

      I hope some of this was helpful. Thank you for participating!

  17. Oh, and the widget at the top that scrolls through your old posts is a good idea, but I don't like it. It would help if you gave it a title because it took me a while to figure out what it was, but all the same, I didn't like the motion or the appearance.

  18. Here for the Critique-my-blog blogfest. I, too, love the header - the bull picture is really fun, a lot of character. Also think the title of your blog is great. Seems like the posts are a little long, though maybe it's the width issue. Seems like your topics are pretty freewheeling. Do you have a specific focus?

  19. Hi there! I headed on over after you left a great comment on my blog (thanks again!).

    I LOVE the way that you write! It's fantastic! I normally skip ahead if a blog post is looking long... that's how lazy I am! However I started reading yours and followed through the whole way to the end without stopping to think 'When will this be OVER... BORING!' so congrats!

    I'll definitely be signing up to follow :) keep up the good work!

    Also, I haven't been summoned for jury duty (I'm only 20 so haven't been signed up for long!) but I can't wait either! I think it'd be good fun... although in the end it'd probably be a really boring theft or vandalism case as opposed to murder or something.

    Cheers, and keep writing!

  20. OMG! I was laughing from beginning to end! What a fabulous blog you have and I adore the bull! I am a new follower and can't wait to make time to read some more posts! Thanks for stopping my own blog and letting me know you are out there...

  21. Stephen, I just wanted to say that I have awarded you the Liebster Blog Award and gave a shout-out to your blog on mine ( )...congrats!

  22. i recently purchased a box specifically so i could think outside of it

    I've never been on jury duty, though i don't think its much like Perry Mason, or even Twelve Angry Men - my dad's done it at least twice though, so maybe he had my turn

  23. I've served twice on a jury. I have a sneaking suspicion British courtrooms are less dramatic and interesting than American ones. Well, put it this way, my jury service was not dramatic or interesting. I spent a lot of it waiting. Well, it was a good chance to catch up on the crime novels I'd been meaning to read....

  24. I would be perfectly happy to never sit on a jury! But I use to volunteer at the courthouse so that disqualifies me. :) I like your header. I would like to see a bio. I think it would look better if your bio was at the top followed by a roll of recent posts (which needs to be labeled). I don’t know if your label section is doing anything for your blog. I like that your blog doesn’t have a lot going on. At a quick glance you seem to be a funny guy, which will bring me back to your blog!

  25. I think the juror pool comes from the personal property tax rolls. Because there were WAY too many old people there compared to 20-somethings. I had a week of jury duty with a guy who looked like Hannibal Lecter. Acted like him too, but without the charm, and without the fava beans and nice Chianti. As far as I know, everyone escaped with their liver intact.

  26. I covered many trials. The best we could was manage to have an artist
    in the courtroom to help us "tell and show" the story. Long before Judge Judy eh?

    Your wife's answer about the number of law enforcement people she knew is a hoot!

  27. I would love to serve on a jury. I am always struck off. My brother-in-law who is a lawyer says it is because I am so intelligent. I choose to believe that he is not being sarcastic.

  28. Have I served? Yes. Hideous experience. Read all about it...

    (It is in five or six parts. That's how long and hideous it was. Made for a great bunch of blog posts, but otherwise just horrendous.))

  29. I've actually served twice, the last time while I was employed at the county jail. And the sheriff and his wife are two of my best friends.

  30. I used to be afraid to be called to serve because I was afraid to lose my income. Now that I don't have to worry about that, I don't think I would be eligible. My mental quirks might keep me out, like severe panic attacks and paranoia, etc. And my big loud mouth! This is my first visit to your blog but it won't be the last.