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Thursday, Dec. 12, 2002
Ah, the wheels of justice.

As related in my previous entry, the Federal Court system deemed it both necessary and wise to have Outfoxed onboard as a juror for a period of two weeks. Two weeks that started at the end of November and were to have concluded on Dec. 13.

So my little nightly ritual began. Call the phone number, punch in some codes, listen to the sultry voiced automated clerk say ”At this time, you are not selected to appear. . .”, and go about my merry way.

I thought I was gonna make it all the way through the two weeks without having to go in, I really did. Since Stu and I are spectacularly busy right now on the work front it really wasn’t too upsetting that the Feds didn’t seem to need me.

So with three days to go, I get selected. Whoop.

Let’s not go thru the agony of trying to hustle downtown in a driving rain to get to Court on time. Let’s shelve the whole part about getting stuck in traffic and having to coax a large and balky pickup truck into Formula One maneuvers at a speed neither safe nor reasonable. Forget about the parking garage attendant who met God in the form of my front grille when she tried to wave me out of the place. And the rain which soaked me as I made the dash for the Corthouse.

Let’s just cut right to the Court entrance, where I found myself in the first of many lines. Where US Marshals with absolutely no humor at all wave treasure hunting wands over your body and cackle with glee when they find some long forgotten stash of wood screws in your coat pocket.

Take a book with you whenever faced with a procedure involving the US Government. A long and wordy book. Don’t think for a minute that the rack of magazines in the waiting room will slake your thirst for very long. Or the little “How to be the Best Juror You Can Be” booklet that they hand out. Take a big honker book and settle in for the long run.

I got there at 8:30 am, and it was 9:30 before the clerk of court so much as cleared his throat. When you’re in a room of 40 other people desperately wishing to be anywhere but here, it can be positively unnerving. “We should be getting started any minute now,” he said. “We’re just waiting for the rest of the jury candidates to show up.”

. . . read read read.

At 10 am, a Marshal poked his head in the door and counted heads. He and the clerk consulted for a while, then he left.

. . . read read read.

At 10:30, the clerk rose and made an impassioned, if not somewhat memorized speech about how we were going to be selected and what decorum to use in the courtroom. He praised us for being so wonderful as to actually show up (yes, it was indeed wonderful for us to show up after you gave us the alternative – three days in the slammer), and hinted as to how unusual it was that this was taking so long. A few stragglers had joined the group by this time.

. . . read read read.

At 11, the Marshal returned and briskly invited, “Let’s all go downstairs to the Courtroom now, shall we?”

I’m a pretty fast reader, but when I can cover 377 pages you just know a fair amount of time has been sucked out of my life. Downstairs, yes. For the love of humanity, let’s go.

The herd thundered downstairs and milled around in grazing formation in the lobby until the Marshal caught up. “Now we’re going to line up in alphabetical order, okay? Adams?” And the forty-some adults shuffled and sorted themselves and there was some muffled mooing but we were complacent. And it was a very nice line indeed.

11:10 am. I had a thought to pull the book out again but stifled it in order to at least make the appearance of being alert. The herd by now had warmed to each other and conversations were breaking out all over. Except for me. I wasn’t going to be the one jabbed with a cattle prod for excessive noise. The prudent juror, me. The very epitome of Jurist Prudence.

11:40 am. My neighbor began a long and heartfelt recount about days spent in Jury Duty in California. “You know, it was a lot like this. You hang out for 6 hours a day, then they hustle you into court and you spend another hour trying to look interested, then 2 minutes answering questions, then they give you the old heave-ho. Wonder if we’ll make it inside the courtroom by noon?”

I giggled a little. “Brother, I don’t know what they do in California but I’ll tell ye what. We’re fast approaching the holy lunch hour, here. The Judge has a hot dog with his name on it across the street and god help ye if a bunch of jurors get in his way.”

11:50 am. On cue, the Marshal appeared and waved us out of line. “Come here, come on over here. Yes yes you can get out of line. Come here.”

I positioned myself strategically at the outer edge of the herd.

“Well, these things happen sometimes,” the Marshal said. “I’d really like to thank you all for coming, but the case is going to be postponed until tomorrow, so if you can . . . “

I really heard nothing much after the word postponed, since I was stealthily but rapidly heading for the door.

And it was still raining, but you know what? Sometimes the rain is a good thing. A nice little stroll in the rain.

I don’t do well being cooped up in Courthouses. Too many years spent out on the open range, I suppose. One of the things I value most about my daily work life is the freedom, there is no cubicle to fence me in, no boss to try to avoid, no set times and no schedules. I pretty much come and go as I please. I don’t wear a watch. The constraints of time being what they are, I threw the watch away years ago, and I can’t say that it’s really bothered me since. I get up before the sun rises, I work until I’m satisfied with the days progress and then I stop. When I’m hungry, I eat. That’s about it.

And mind you, I know that’s not how the rest of the world does it. I used to be part of all that scheduling drama. I know that sometimes I have to run into the corral for a while and mingle with the herd.

But I don’t have to like it. I get to do it again today, and I need another book.

Or as the regulars at the Watering Hole reminded me, I need a bulletproof excuse. “What are you going to tell them when they ask if you can be an impartial juror, Outfoxed? Gonna give ‘em the old Lesbian Trapped in a Man’s Body thing? Or the Judge not, lest Ye be Judged? How you gonna play it?”

With two days to go until my juror term runs out, you can bet I’ll think of something. Idle bodies do not necessarily indicate idle minds.

They’d be better off letting me back onto the fields where I can run free. They really would.

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