This week was jury duty week. Yes, I went downtown to the courthouse. As I walked past the bus that said Corrections I feared that I might see my old boyfriends. Would I see Frankie on his way to see the man he called his “fucking probation officer”? Would I see Keith in his best prison orange and shackles? Perhaps they would find Holden Caulfield, back from the lam and ready to stand trial for his bench warrant and assaulting that cop. Maybe Darren allegedly stabbed someone, but not before nabbing me more clothes from the half way house he was staying in because he felt they would fit me and were too nice for the girls.
Either way, this was going to be an adventure.
I got into jury duty and immediately they showed us this video. I have to give them credit. They know that no one wants to be there. They even say as much in the video after they describe old trials where if one sinks they were innocent of all charges. I thought they would question us right away and then we would be off. Instead it was like a really bad open call, similar to that of Last Comic Standing. Actually, Last Comic Standing was a scripted, politically driven crock of shit. (Although I did get more air time than one of the New York finalists who didn’t make it Season 5 and boy did she throw a bitch fit).
Anyway, we sat around for the first part of the day. It seemed like time was dragging like a person with cerebral palsy running a marathon. I wrote some. I read a little of the Kambri Crews book “Burn This Down.” It surprised me by being quite good. When I finish the review will follow. Anyway, I wasn’t expecting it be that good because the girls in a certain comedy clique I feel alien from sang it’s praises. But I met Kambri and thought she was a nice lady. Plus my friend Mandy Stadtmiller liked her book.
The court officer explained that no one could get out of serving, and that judges would call and yell at employers who put heat on employees. We all looked at each other. They didnt mess around. Not to mention he also said he despised civil court because it lacked structure and had more respect for criminal court.
On my way to lunch I saw the criminals outside the courthouse, tattooed and smoking, comparing notes on what judge was cool and which was “a bitch who needed a dick.” Part of me wanted to slap them. Just because a woman had an opinion didn’t mean that she needed his penis in her per se. Then again, these people could barely read, looked like they had only learned to walk upright this past week, and next week could possibly be on a cadaver table. What did I want?
On the flipside, as I chowed into my Vietnamese food, I realized I had once found guys like that attractive. Yes, they were man and could discuss sports. But then I remembered the words of my friend Chairman Marcus, the gay love child of Chairman Mao and Tiger Mom, “No more dating defendants. And stop talking about your broken heart. Broken heart won’t kill you. Tear your heart out and throw it in the trash if it’s broken. You can live without it.” He was right, I could. Suddenly felons didn’t look so sexy.
I got back to the courthouse and then they announced they were putting our names in a pool for jury selection. I got to go to the Supreme Court. As we entered the courtroom we saw the judge who seemed like a fairly nice lady. She gave us this spiel about how even though a jury was a time commitment it was a privilege to serve. That’s when the selection began. The prosecutor was a nice looking lady who dressed sharply. The defense lawyer was sort of goofy but believed himself to be slick. The defendant was a nice looking young African American gentlemen.
As the jury selection started, that’s when the true freak show began. Each juror was asked questions by the judge. Now these required a yes or no answer. But some of these people were clearly stupid as boards. During selection they brought up the fact that the defendant could choose not to testify. One homeboy type replied, “Well that’s a stupid rule. I wouldn’t want anyone to speak for me.” The judge, knowing she was dealing with a moron said, “Well that might be your opinion but it is the law.”
Then another woman who was a journalist claimed to know the area of the crime. When it was brought up that the victim had just been released from jail days before being robbed and beaten, the defense lawyer asked if this would change things. Oh as an added bonus the victim was currently incarcerated. This same woman said, “I got one question, why are we even wasting our time with this in court? I mean, they are both bad.” I had to agree with her. Or better yet, just make these dregs of society cellmates so they stop wasting our time.
Meanwhile, the defendant, who I could have taken or left either way, started laughing and smirking during the proceedings. That’s when I got pissed. Why the hell was he so happy? He was facing double digit years. I just wanted to jump over the table and bop him upside the head. In the back of the courtroom were some very trashy, ghetto fabulous women with very ghetto fabulous children. These children were well behaved, but as soon as they got out in the hall they ran about. When I saw these women my jaws dropped.
Both the prosecutor and defense lawyer were thorough. However, the prosecutor was pussy footing and the judge kept saying, “Speed it up counselor.”
They had the trashiest, cheapest shirts on ever. Low cut, they were hanging out of them. On their boobs and arms they had words tattooed like, “Heartbreaker.” I wanted to inform these indigents that despite the fact they were entitled and probably abused welfare, they were in court which is like being in church. Translated, throw a sweater on. The world doesn’t want to see your tits that badly. But I also figured the kids running around were probably the defendant’s, smirking, gleaming, thinking he was hot. Sure, I didn’t have the evidence but I just wanted to throw the book at that fucker for his smug attitude alone.
The judge then let us go and told us to come back the next day. She asked us to arrive closer to ten which meant sleeping in. I figured she probably needed a break from the nut house that was her courtroom. Plus the judge, who had a good sense of humor about herself and what she did, probably dealt with baby mama’s constantly, but still probably needed a good Scotch and Valium now and again.
The next day we were back. There were two lines going into the courthouse. It was easy to get into the wrong one. That’s when I started to strike up a convo with the sharp dressed young man next to me hoping he was a lawyer. I asked him what he was doing and he said going to court. Trying to make myself sound smart I asked lawyer or juror. That’s when he told me defendant. Apparently, he was in court for a drunken brawl which was the fault of his ex-girlfriend who was making him jealous on purpose because she was “a bitch.” Anyway, this had not been his first brush with the law. Years ago he had punched a cop, but the cop had backed up into his fist by accident. That’s when I remembered the immortal words of Chairman Marcus, “No more defendants,” and found the appropriate line.
When I got into the courthouse it was time for day two of jury selection. Walking down the hall I saw rows of degenerates, probably friends of men whom I have dated or close family members. Then of course the hot shots with the slicked back hair in suits were defense lawyers. While I have dated many felons, I know most of the time criminal lawyers are not far behind because I have dated one too.
The courtroom then opened and we were all summoned in. That’s when people got creative in getting out of jury service. Suddenly, there were throngs of people, probably fluent the rest of the week, that suddenly didn’t know English. There were suddenly people, who probably bunked in NYC, who were now residents of Queens. Oh the things people pull. The judge then excused them.
Sitting next to me was the Boo, or girlfriend of the defendant. A young woman, who looked West Indian from Trinidad or something, would have been pretty had she not made herself such a trash heap. Dressed in jeans three sizes to small to show off a butt she viewed as sexy that was actually fat, she had an attitude to match. Her shirt, probably stolen from her younger sister, was several sizes too small as well as hugged her ample bosom. The shirt read, “Juicy, Poke Here.” Her shoes, Velcro and lace like all the kids wear, were undone as a fashion statement. Instead of looking cool, she looked like she might trip at any second. The defendant, now stressed because his lawyer, once confident and cool, was now screwing up, forgetting juror’s names and facts, was taking notes himself. Every once in a while he would look for his girl. Then she would flash him a smile.
His Boo wasn’t so bad except when she started talking to me. “This is so dumb.” She said. “This is such a waste of time.”
I nodded. It was. That’s when the court officer looked back, scowled, and said in a thick Spanish accent, “No comments.”
The Boo was not about to follow rules though. She got out her cellphone and began to text her friends. When she got bored of that, she began to listen to music, loudly. That’s when the court officer, now sick of the Boo, escorted her out of the courtroom.
Jury selection dragged on, and family members of the defendant came because it was anticipated the trial was to start that afternoon. However, it didn’t look like their dreams would come true. During one break the mother of the defendant said the following quote, “There’s a reason the judge keeps that courtroom so cold. That way she has a clear head when she sentences people.”
I bit my lip trying not to laugh as she strolled by with her weave. Next to her was a young man, who despite his meager station in life probably was a father with a criminal record. His pants were so low to the ground it was amazing. While I was a member of the low rider generation, this man’s skill was more impressive than any wannabe gangsta I ever saw. His jeans were so low to the ground that we all stared, amazed that he didn’t trip.
Meanwhile the Boo, not allowed in the court but still missing her man, apprehended the defense lawyer the first chance she got to have a chit chat. The two disappeared into a stairwell. This was indeed a circus. More family members and children of the defendant swarmed the hall. A while later we were back in court.
Then it was my sections turn. We answered questions and I didn’t get picked. Basically, it was because my dad is a prosecutor and I had my house burglarized. However, some people, since they asked if you were victims of a crime, were playing it up by talking about every awful thing that happened to them as well as faux tears. It was nuts but I loved every second of the circus.
In the hall I discovered one of the fellow potential jurors was the future sister in law of a comedian I know. Then the one priest knew my priest and had seen me on TV. Another juror was a swing dancer and knows a woman I work with.
After getting my proof of service off I went. Forty dollars a day eight weeks from now, eh. Time commitment, pain in the ass.