Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I’m trying to work here, but I hate this. I hate feeling as if I’m being watched. I have a hard enough time working in a cubicle. I’m sitting in the waiting rooom at the courthouse for jury duty selection. I’ve already been called up for the screening process and I was not chosen. Big surprise. They most likely will not select me as I don’t fit the average profile of a typical juror. The woman who was our neighbor when I was a kid served on a jury at least three times that I know of. She’s a housewife, mother of six (or was it five?), may not have completed her college education, and she was very Catholic. Not that I have anything against Catholic housewives, but that woman and her sanctimonious and patronizing attitude made me feel as comfortable as a pair of polyester shorts with all the tags still attached.

She insulted my mother by rejecting us from the school carpool, but I was secretly relieved that I didn’t have to ride to school in a Wagoneer filled with her brood. Namely her eldest son who attacked me on one occasion with the garden hose on full pressure, taking care to aim directly at my glasses. The little freak once knocked a birdsnest down in our yard and gleefully smashed the eggs without restraint. Someone like that cannot be from good people. Years later when I was visiting home from college Mrs. R approached me and asked me a number of nosy questions including whether or not I had a boyfriend. I wanted to tell her that I did not. I wanted to tell her that I actually engaged in meaningless yet satisfying sexual encounters, indiscriminate of the sex of my partners on a regular, no daily basis, and that I was, in fact, a nymphomaniac who could not exactly recall the actual numbers of sexual partners or abortions I had had. Of course, some sense of well beaten in decorum took a hold of me.

“He’s actually living in New York right now,” I replied.
“Well you know you should follow him where ever he is. It’s important that you support him you know.”
She looked as if her mouth was poised to motor on for at least several more minutes. I nodded and quietly evaded her before she could ask if we had any intention of getting married.

If they picked this woman to be a juror at least three times. I didn’t have a chance. Not that I would reject the opportunity.

As I sat in the courtroom during the interview process, and listened to both the thoroughness and clarity of the questions and styles of the public defender/state attorney and the privately hired lawyer. I finally had solid evidence of what I had suspected and known. You really are at a disadvantage if you cannot hire good counsel. In our society you’re basically screwed if you have little or no money. If you’re accused of a crime, and you’re innocent but poor you may be innocent before proven guilty, but unless you have someone sharp working on the jury selection process, your chances are to say the least dismal.

Listening to the responses of my fellow prospective jurors, I learned today that whom I would want to sit on my jury if I was ever convicted of a crime: Those people who honestly voiced their opinion or asked questions regarding the definition of reasonable doubt; those people who thoroughly explained their views and situations; those people who were not afraid to speak out. In most cases, these are the people who are rejected from jury participation.


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