This is a story about Jury Duty. The return of the Runaway Juror (me) in yet another Jury Duty adventure. I could not escape the dreaded Civic Duty that separates us from fascists and tyrants. It's true Democracy instead of the alternative. Our chosen form of government is a well-oiled machine that civilizations have been trying to perfect since the Ancient Greeks. The Greeks had thousands of people show up for their assembly, and I can't imagine how that worked. These days you can't get anyone to agree or as an old cop buddy of mine used to say, "Those 12 skulls in a box can't agree on anything, but I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6." I don't know what he was trying to say, but it sounded good. I spent three days in the hellishly boring Jury room with no hope of a trial. However, interesting things occur when you put a hundred or so folks in a room together. All of what follows is true.
Day one. The normal introductions of the presiding judge, and how happy they are to have us all there. This was a replay of the last time I was here a couple of weeks ago (see blog post "The Curious Story of the Runaway Juror Who Loved Indian Food") - However this time there were new Judges there taking the "excuses" for dismissal. Now you are supposed to have something really wrong with you or earth shatteringly important going on to be excused, but folks (including me) try to get out of it. Last time I ran into a brick wall of a Judge who just wasn't having my "Mr. Mom/my kids have nowhere to go" argument, even though I really am a Mr. Mom and my kids really did have nowhere to go. She had a bit of evil about her, and my vote she will not receive if I ever see her on a ballot. True Dat! As the young people say these days. These judges seemed like Diet Judges or Judges Light, because it sure seemed like they were letting a lot of folks loose. This time I didn't have an excuse so I figured I would stick it out and do my duty, and it would be my luck that ole Dr. Evil Judge Juris Prudence would show up at any second and say, "You'll have to serve, and your little dog too." (In my best Wicked Witch of the West voice.) I opted to stay and tough it out, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I've been called for Jury Duty regularly over the years, but have never once served on a Jury. This is mainly due to my history in Law Enforcement, and the defense believes that I will say guilty no matter what.....which is probably true, because very rarely do people end up on trial if they haven't done something wrong. I'm sure it happens, just not that often. Day one came and went, and my main accomplishment was a quest for lunch that turned into a horrible fight with bone chilling wind, and a line at a hamburger place that had to rival the "Star Wars" premiere.
Day two. Have you ever watched paint dry? How bout grass grow? Better yet, have you ever watched Larry King interview Marlon Brando? That's what Day #2 was like. I was literally bored to tears, but two events saved this unbelievably boring day. The first was Ed Gein. You know the guy who ate people and made human skin suits in Wisconsin, and inspired the Buffalo Bill character in "Silence of the Lambs." He was at Jury Duty. Or at least a guy that looked like him, and acted just a bit squirrely. This guy had a stocking cap, leather jacket, gloves, and huge boots and he never took any of it off. Left those bad boys on the entire three days I knew him. Not to mention that he liked to walk around and stare into space while holding his hands out in front of him while making a squeezing gesture (like squeezing an orange or something.) He was a traveler too. I had to keep my eye on this fruit loop, because you never knew if he was around somewhere watching. Never spoke or uttered any communication that I heard. Just looked around the Jury Room squeezing his hands with his winter apparel on all wild eyed and stuff. It got so boring in the Jury Room that this guy was my only source of entertainment. I know folks thought I was crazy too when I laughed out loud at presumably nothing, but it wasn't nothing I was just laughing at Ed Gein. The second event actually was so memorable that it made the entire 3 days of boredom worth it. There was this young lady, who I found out later was an attorney, who was walking toward the bathroom. The guy that was sitting in the front row began to say, "Miss! Miss!" trying to get her attention. Finally, she stopped and looked at this guy in a puzzled manner. He was pointing toward her shoes, and he said, "I believe you have something on your shoes." She looked skeptical, (I would be too with Ed Gein walking around), but she bit and looked down at her shoes. Her expression immediately turned into a combination of embarrassment and uncontrolled humor. She reached down and discovered that lodged in the heel of her shoe was a Hot Wheels car. This brought laughter from everyone around, except Ed Gein, and the lady said, "I suppose I should make him clean up his room a little better." I feel your pain!
Day three. Still in the Jury Room with Ed Gein and the Hot Wheels lady. Still watching for changes in the wallpaper, but finding none. I even resorted to tracking Ed Gein on foot, and trying to discover what made this old coot tick. Good things would come this day, however. An early release for lunch and a date with my lovely wife. This post is a sequel of sorts to my first "Runaway Juror" story, and any sequel normally pays homage to the first installment by revisiting some of the same story elements that were present in the first one. Here we have Jury Duty itself, the evil judge, boredom, and now Indian food! We were able to grab a quick lunch at the bestest restaurant in the whole Southside of Birmingham, Taj India! Can I get an AMEN!! After lunch I saw an omen. Native American legends tell of such things, and I have to say I've seen these things first hand. Back in the day, I was a young police officer, and a Native American man went missing. While looking for this man we found a Hawk's feather (which is rare) and then saw a red-tailed hawk in a tree looking at us mysteriously. According to Native American Legend this was a sign that, "A Brave was coming home." We found the man within the hour, after at least two days of searching. True Story. My omen was a Red Tailed Hawk on the Southside. That's rare too. He flew down by Doodles restaurant and caught a mouse or something. Then he looked at me really funny as if he was trying to say something all while tearing this poor mouse apart and eating it. Huge wing span on this thing. I even snapped a picture. What did this mean? I didn't know, but I would soon find out. Once I returned to the Jury Room me and 31 others were sent to a courtroom. We were warned by the Jury Room staff to be on our best behavior for this Judge. I thought, this guy must be hardcore. They even said he'd been known to confiscate cell phones and other devices. Hold up now, nobody comes between me and Steve Jobs' greatest idea, nobody! We went through security and arrived at the court room. They lined us up and marched us into the court room. When I walked into the room I looked toward the bench and I saw....that evil woman judge who gave me such a hard time previously! My goose was cooked! How would our hero respond? What devilish plans did the evil Ms. Juris Prudence have in store? Would I lose my beloved iPhone? All these questions and more will be answered in the next and final paragraph.
Well, what happened? I was struck from the Jury (as usual) and sent home. An anti-climatic end to an anti-climatic three days. I did get to stand up in the court room and give my bio for the judge and attorneys in the case which is always fun, and I almost mentioned being a close personal friend of Ed Gein but thought better of it. As for the Hawk omen- I've got a theory. I believe the Hawk symbolized the freedom that I was about to experience by being released from Jury Duty, but the fact that the giant bird was devouring his prey left open the possibility for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering at the hands of the evil Judge, who really probably wasn't that evil after all. Well, that's all from Downtown Birmingham Jury Room for this episode, but if the past is any indicator I'll be back- probably sooner than I want to be. Good day.