JUROR: We have, your honor. We the jury find the defendant guilty...of being innocent!
(Wild courtroom laughter)
DEFENDANT: (through tears of laughter) You guys!
JUROR: (after laughter dies down) Ah...in all seriousness, you're going to jail.
I had jury duty a couple of weeks ago and mustered no more faith in the United States judiciary system then I had before I served my time there. Sixty or seventy of us potential jurors, silent and petrified, waited as the Manhattan city hall answer to Tom Cruise guided us through our juror orientation, which consisted of a packet of unreadable paper and a video starring Ed Bradley who is famous for wearing an earring and being dead.
Feeling like Ed Bradley looks right now in his coffin, I scanned my fellow suckers in the room for potential comrades, only to be met with the vacant stares of newly minted American citizens, most from Spanish speaking countries, who really didn't fully understand what their Jury Summons meant until five minutes ago. After their individual revelations, each was currently in the business of either looking for a suitable sharp object on which to impale himself or seriously considering an ignorance of the English language at least for the day. So much so that the Tom Cruise clerk announced at one point, after a heated yet muffled argument with an emphatically gesticulating woman, that "if you don't know enough English, please go to the main jury room and see the clerk."
It came time, then, for the selection of jurors for the morning's first case. Sensing a wave of overwhelming dread, I grabbed my bag and sat at the ready for I KNEW that my name would be called. And it was. And I joined the rest of the damned in Jury Room Three. Then began the juror interview process, called "voir dire," which is French for "how can I bullshit my way out of jury duty?" It is truly unbelievable the lengths potential jurors will go in order to disqualify themselves for a case. For instance, the case we were being considered for was an eye injury at a construction site. When asked if there were any reasons any of us would have for not being impartial in a case like this, people were coming up with fantastic long shots.
"My brother had eye cancer. And it was really hard on all of us. So, I think I couldn't be fair in a case like this." (Had this thought gone on longer, this particular juror might have gone on to say that she has eyes. The plaintiff has eyes. We all have eyes. Therefore, she must humbly decline serving on this case due to eyeball sympathy.)
"My cousin works in construction." (Holy shit! What are you even DOING here?! Sorry to waste so much of your time, seeing as you're clearly unfit to see a case involving construction. I mean, what would your cousin say?)
Seriously, most of these jurors might as well have been saying "I have eyeballs, and one time I walked by a construction site. I CANNOT SERVE ON THIS JURY BECAUSE OF MY UNDYING ADORATION OF BOTH EYEBALLS AND CONSTRUCTION SITES AND PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS!!!!"
Then came time for my questioning. Naturally, I couldn't wait.
PLAINTIFFS ATTORNEY: Mr. Silva. It says on your survey that you went to college for...
(a strange pause. As if I had said "murder. I went to school for murder.")
ME: Well, I don't actually DO that for a LIVING.
(laughter. It's now OK to laugh at the stupid actor and every juror is happy for it)
PLAINTIFFS ATTORNEY: What do you do?
ME: I'm a consultant for a lawyer who acts as adjunct counsel to a pharmaceutical company.
PLAINTIFFS ATTORNEY: And do you have any problems with what we've heard so far about impartiality?
(bear in mind that I was the last juror interviewed)
ME: Well, I've heard some wonderful philosophical and moral sentiments spoken here today and I agree with them wholeheartedly.
ME: Because I have no spine.
(laughter. These people would never trust me to be their juror)
DEFENDANTS ATTORNEY: Mr. Silva, if you had your druthers, what kind of acting would you do?
(this really happened people)
ME: I would prefer stage.
DEFENDANTS ATTORNEY: Oh, like Broadway?
ME: (laughing incredulously) No! I don't SING!
DEFENDANTS ATTORNEY: Well excuse me, I just met you.
ME: Oh, you didn't get my demo tape?
And that is how I got out of jury duty. That and a Jewish holiday, of course. Which makes me want to write a song called "Let's Hear it for the Jews" sung to the tune of "Let's Hear it for the Boy."
LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE JEWS
DON'T GIVE THE JEWS A HAM...