Friday, October 8, 2010

Truth, Justice and the American Way

This week I was able to fulfill my civic duty and serve on a Jury here in good ol' SBC. It was mostly boring and took time away from stuff that I shudda been doing. I was happy to serve though and glad I could.

I'm glad the case was a civil trial and not a criminal trial. The lawsuit was a teacher suing the school district for firing her for being pregnant. So really, if there was any trial that was made for me to serve on, this was it. There are very few things I "know" about in my limited existence and some of those things are schools, teachers and motherhood.

I enjoyed the process of seeing justice served. I'm glad I live in a country where there are not "professionals" making the final decisions. It was comforting to know that all those who served on the jury with me were just regular people. And that because of the laws and procedures set in place, we could make an informed and fair decision. I really feel like it was.

Like I said it was mostly boring as they questioned witness after witness and asked basically the same questions of most of them. I thought a lot about how fun it would have some excitement in the courtroom.


How exciting would it be if someone flipped out, drank lots of water, beat them self up, and made crazy noises right there in the courtroom? Many lines from Liar Liar popped into my head during the 3 days. I won't bore you with them here. Go watch the movie, you need a good laugh anyway.

Fletcher: You're honor, I object
Judge: Why?
Fletcher: Because it's devastating to my case.
Judge: Overruled
Fletcher: Good Call

Ok, sorry I couldn't help it... NOW go watch it.
Bailiff: I found him in the bathroom this way. Someone beat the heck out of him!
Judge: Who did this?
Fletcher: A mad man your honor. A desperate fool at the end of his pitiful rope
Judge: Can you describe him?
Fletcher: About 6'2", 180 lbs. big teeth, kinda gangly.

Ok, I'm stopping now.

Or what if the 3 Stooges were there? I would have loved it if someone had trouble swearing in, got gum stuck on their shoe or they did a little dance right there in court. And what about the time Larry squawked like a chicken stuck in a fence? That sure would have added to the excitement.
Oh, and it would not have been dull at all if Perry Mason were there. There would have been a dramatic and emotional courtroom confession at the end. And it would have been very cool if someone walked right up to the jury box to address us. (By the way if this had been my jury I would have been sitting where the guy with the white hair and glasses is sitting. I was juror #6)
Remember Mr. Burger the D.A.? I wonder if he ever got tired of losing?
There were no cute sayings in our trial like, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." The most entertaining phrase for me in our trial was about the meeting where the public found out the teacher in question was going to lose her job, and many at the meeting were very upset. The teacher's attorney would ask, "Was anyone at the meeting crying?" The answer was always "yes". Then he would say, "Was anyone sobbing?" Again the answer was "yes." He asked it so many times I looked forward to the way it was worded.
"Was anyone at the meeting crying?" "Yes" "Was anyone sobbing" "Yes".
I don't know, call me weird. But even I know, no matter how you look at it, its still not as cute and catchy as, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." (Just as a side note: I read that the items from the courtroom during OJ's trial are going to be in the Smithsonian. Hmmm?)
And remember this guy Kato Kaelin? I don't know... in our trial there were no memorable witnesses, not this memorable anyway. All the ones in my trial made sense and didn't really contradict themselves. And I'm not sure any of them went surfing after the trial either.
So here are some things that stood out to me during my 3 days of Jury Duty.

~ They really use terms like, "May I approach the bench", "Objection", and "Do you swear to tell the truth?"
~ The bailiff was a small woman (nothing like Bull from Night Court)
~ Court reporters are mesmerizing. How do they keep track of it all, read it back verbatim if asked and still be able to shop for pants and buy airline tickets while doing their job. (Yes it's true, we could see her computer from the jury box.)
~ The teacher's first name was Cherub.
~ In the jury of 12 (with 2 alternates) there was only 1 man.
~ The courtroom wasn't full like you see on TV. It was mostly empty with an occasional person or 2 in sitting in the back.
~ The teacher won by a unanimous vote from all 12 jurors.
~ The answer is not always clear on who is right and who is wrong.
~ Be careful what you say when you are in a position of power, like on a school board (even when you are not acting in that position at the time of the comments)
~ Don't mess with a mommy bear
~ The teacher's attorney's name was Mr. Martyr
~ I kept humming "The People's Court" theme music
~ Parking is free around the Hollister Courthouse
~ Judge Judy came to mind several times (even though our judge was soft spoken and a man)
~ I ate Subway everyday for lunch this week. Sonny is going to miss me today. (yes I'm on a first name basis with the owner of Subway)
~ If I didn't understand before, I now understand the importance and need for several witness all testifying of the same thing.
~ There were 3 members of the school board that testified. Their attorney kept referring to them as, "The Three Witnesses"
~ I'm glad I don't have to serve again for at least another 12 months. It is very distracting to regular life.


Lindseys said...

Good work, Stef. Good to know that justice was in such capable hands as yours. Your blog cracked me up. It reminded me of Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can when he went all Perry Mason on the judge in the preliminary hearing and the judge basically said, "Son, What in the heck are you doing?"

Additionally I saw that Jim Carry was in the list of 20 memorable characters of the last 20 years for Liar Liar. I thought that was a little strange.


Shannon B said...

There are a lot of movie/TV shows involving the court room eh? I too thought of Liar Liar and ALSO Runaway Jury. That is an intense movie and glad that didn't happen on your jury. I also thought of this line:

What are you drunk Mr. Hurley? (as he is sitting on the courtroom stand)
Mr Hurley: I might of had a few Shardonays (SP?), what of it?

Guess the movie? I am glad you got to play Jury for a few days, and you are still sane!!:)

Darrell said...

Haha, this is so funny! I'm glad I've never had to do jury duty, but I'm sure funny things would keep popping into my head too.

Joe and Julie said...

I like this interchange of Q's & A's in the courtroom...

Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
Did you check for blood pressure?
Did you check for breathing?
So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
How can you be so sure, Doctor?
Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.

Kristen said...

Long live Perry mason!

Annette said...

This was an awesome read! Too funny. You make even the mundane exciting. Did you keep a notebook throughout the week? The names Mr. Martyr and Cherub alone tell me this trial was meant for you! I'm glad justice was served. Good work!

P.S. Your family is hilarious :)

Stimpsons said...

Wow, is there always this much going on in your head? Very entertaining. I'm glad you could use all of your "court room experience" for your jury duty. : )
PS I've never done jury duty out of it in July with a nursing baby.

Lindseys said...

So funny Stef! Glad you could do your civic duty. I got out of jury once because I was a nursing mom, then had to report a year later, but forgot to go the day of and honestly thought I was in big trouble. Lucky for me they threw the case out before it went to court.


Carolina said...

Good for you for doing your civic duty!!! I have never done it, not complaining either!

Kelsi Meyer said...

Hahaha! Liar Liar!

BTW in the Three Stooges, the gum gets stuck to his nose not his shoe