Story about jury duty in the 80’s   Leave a comment


Normally I’d reply directly to the funny blog post about jury duty I read this morning, but the reply is long and tedious and is submitted, below, for your perusal as Exhibit A:

I got called for jury duty in Atlanta back in the 80’s and after a long wait in the jury holding pen got called in for selection on a lawsuit in which two young newly minted parents were suing a doctor who circumcised their baby without their express written consent. For you non-Americans, circumcision is done as a matter of course and I was under the impression that you had to opt out, anyway.

At this point in my adulthood (and, indeed, at all times up until just a few years ago), I was always stoned and, as frequently as possible, tripping my ass off. I mention this as it squares the circle for some who haven’t met me, but it may also have some relevance in the story…maybe.

There were about 20 of us in the pool for this case so there was a good chance I would be dismissed early on but the six mouth-breathing morons quizzed ahead of me forced me to step up my game a bit: in a case that might use subtle and nuanced arguments from both sides I would have struck every one of them from the roles. Then it was my turn:

“Please state your name and occupation.”

After my name, I honestly replied, “Taxi driver.” Then, feigning nerves and possibly with a rush of something felonious in my skull, I quickly added, “Not like De Niro. It’s a real taxi, too, I drove it here so I could get back to work if this is over soon enough.” The judge peered at me, frowning, and the plaintiff’s attorney’s shoulders dropped in what I assume, but couldn’t hear, was a sigh. Lifting his question sheet, he continued.

“Do you have any moral, ethical, or other strong feelings about circumcision?”
“It never harmed me, no. Still, it seems like it’s just cosmetic surgery, doesn’t it?”
“That’s enough!” intoned the judge.
“No, really. It’s not like we’re wandering the desert like when this first started.”
“Sir,” the judge started but I continued hurriedly through.
“I mean, there’s soap and clean water. We’re not savages. Teach your kids to wash down there.”

At some point during the last sentence, the judge said something to the bailiff who by now was repeatedly gesturing at me and then the door with his right hand while gripping something on his Batman belt with his left. He led me halfway to the jurors’ waiting pit then said, “you’re lucky this isn’t the trip to the cells.”

I think my punishment was to have to wait there until the end of Court business before being dismissed and I was stuck with nothing to read except the faces on the other miscreants who were likewise forced to wait out the clock. Once I got back to the cab, I changed into my driving outfit in the Court parking lot while burning up some, erm, evidence and then got on the radio to the Checker Cabs dispatcher who said I had a fare waiting for me, specifically, at the Courthouse steps.

Of course, it was the judge.

He gave me his address, somewhere off Peachtree Road. “It’s a $9 flat rate to Buckhead, but I have to throw the meter to show I have a fare,” I told him as he started staring at me in the wrap-around rear view mirror. It was a deathly silent ride the rest of the way.

At his driveway, he handed me a $20 bill and when I started to peel off his change he put his forearms on the back of the seat, smiling, and said, “keep it…’wandering the desert’ almost made me piss myself. And, don’t ever pull a stunt like that in my court again.”

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