Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#068 In which our hero doesn't know what he was thinking.

A new woman started working at the agency last week. She's probably late 30's/early 40's, a little dumpy, generally unattractive. None of which is a sin and I don't hold it against her. However, she has one feature that I simply must object to: she smells.

Not in the BO-fashion, thank god, but rather, in the god-awful-amounts-of-perfume fashion. Now, I'm not a scent guy, and I've been incredibly fortunate to marry a woman that doesn't feel the need to douse herself with outrageously-expensive scented water every morning, so maybe I'm a little sensitive. But no - everyone else in the agency has commented as well.

The conscientious seems to be what can she possibly be thinking?! Either she's using some lethally-potent yak glad extract or she's splashing on waaay too much of it. On the few occasions when I do wear some sort of cologne, I dribble a little in my palm, rub my hands together, and rub my face a bit. Then wash my hands. Never have I thought, "Hmm... that can't possibly be enough. Maybe I should just up-end the bottle and let it sink into my pours for half an hour."

I can only assure you that I am not exaggerating. Her office is oppressive with the smell, it leaks out of her open door in the same fashion I image that mustard gas filled the trenches in WWI (and probably to the same effect). She leaves a vapor trail of stink behind her. I accidentally walked through it once, and it was like I had been slapped in the face; I literally pulled up short and changed direction.

And the worst part is that it's not even a nice scent, like, say, lilacs. It's one of those harsh, chemical-smelling concoctions that always makes me think of grandmothers and funeral parlors. Ugh.

Also, to really cap things off, her name is Shelly. Can you guess the juvenile nickname I use whenever discussing her in her absence? That's right: Smelly. Yep, I'm twelve years old.

This got me to thinking of other what are they thinking? moments. There's another woman in the office (who has no objectionable scent that I have noticed) who has a mustache. Not a little stray hair on the upper lip, or a faint hint of bleached hair... but a full-on mustache. It looks like my mustache looks for the first week or so of growing it (of course, I grow facial hair like a 14-year-old). But it is there, clear as day. How do you prepare for work and not notice it? I know she sees it because every three or four days it is gone (shaved or plucked or waxed or whatnot), only to return shortly thereafter. There are days in which I do not shave, but I'm a guy. Yes, society is harsh forcing women into hairlessness... but hey, I don't make the rules.

Anyway, this thought-trail finally led to my own what was I thinking? moments. Most of these involve me suddenly blurting out something stupid, often even after I've cogently said to myself "Don't you dare say that out loud!"

But then, there is the sweater.

I used to own this awesome blue sweater in high school. It looked cool, fit well, and I loved it. This sweater followed me to college and I continued to wear it. Well past the point at which I should have stopped.

Since this site is only read by two or three people that know me personally, I don't have to tell you that I have no fashion sense. If they made Garanimals for adults, I'd be all over it. Actually, that's pretty much how I dress now: "Let's see, blue pants, blue shirt, blue-ish socks. Good, done!" As I side note: this is my employers fault. No, really. If this were a reasonable agency, the creative staff would be allowed to wear jeans and T-shirts, which would allow me to dress like I want to dress. Instead, I'm forced into "business casual" which basically means shirt and tie without the tie. Which is stupid. Anyway.

So it's my sophomore or junior year in college, and I'm taking an advertising class that includes work in focus groups. So I, and the two classmates that are in my group, are talking to people about, well, about whatever it was we were trying to sell.

Now, the only reason this story has any emotional punch at all is because I had a huge crush on one of the girls in my group. We'll call her Judy. Judy was the kind of girl I crushed on a lot in college (and, for that reason, after college): short, petite, quirky, funny and a little punk, but not so much as to be scary. I had seen her in another class and decided to get to know her better. So when it came time to select groups in class (advertising students are forever doing this: breaking off into groups of four or five, which make up our own "agency") I somehow finagled it so she was in my group.

Y'know, now that I start thinking about it, there is a long and involved story about my relationship with Judy, one that doesn't paint me in the best light. I imagine I'll have to tell it eventually.

So we're doing these focus groups and afterward, we're sitting around discussing the results. Oh, and since I wanted to impress Judy, I'm wearing my awesome blue sweater.

I don't remember how it comes up, but the girls in my group comment on just how bad this sweater looks. Naturally, I couldn't see it until it was pointed out, but they were oh so right: it was faded and hadn't stretched to match my growth, so it was basically skin-tight, like I was wearing some sort of superhero's knit costume.

Naturally I became defensive, which so often seems to be my first reaction to such a thing. I distinctly remember saying "Why didn't you say something? I count on you guys to tell me when I'm dressing like an idiot!" As if it was their responsibility to come over to my dorm and OK the clothes I was laying out for the next day. I was mortified not only because I looked the fool in front of Judy, but I also looked like a moron in front of every girl that we interviewed for the focus group. Ugh.

So that is my what the hell was I thinking? moment. Oh, but if that were only the worst misstep I ever took in front of Judy.


#067 In which our hero recounts recent conversations.

Recent conversations:

(Remember, the Scientist works in an in-vitro fertilization lab. Recently, the lab ordered new "visual aides" for the "donation room.")
The Scientist: Our new playboys arrived today.
ME: Oh yeah? Can you bring some home?
TS: You want me to bring some home?
ME: Yeah! After the guys are done... with ... them... Um. Maybe not.
TS: Maybe not.
Concerning the little girl, who was acting sick.
ME: Is she running a fever?
TS: I don't think so. She didn't feel warm. And I've got "mommy hands" now, so I can tell if she's feverish just by touch.
ME: Yeah, I think you develop "mommy hands" once you stop doing dishes.
TS: Ha, ha, ha... fuck you.
Me and the Scientist speaking to our daughter (who, remember, is one), after I had done something incredibly (in my opinion) funny or (in my wife's opinion) dumb:
TS: Lily, your daddy's isn't always as funny as he thinks he is.
ME: Lily, your mama doesn't always appreciate how funny your daddy is.
TS: Lily, sometimes your daddy is delusional.
ME: Oh yeah? Lily, sometimes your mama sucks a dick.
TS: Lily, sometimes your daddy likes it when your mama sucks a dick.
ME: Lily, your daddy always likes it when your mama sucks a dick.


#066 In which our hero does jury duty (pt. IV).

Did you think I was done? So did I.

At the beginning of jury duty we were told that even though we were required to be here the entire two weeks, if we served on one jury, we'd most likely be sent home afterwards. Besides, if you're not on a jury by Wednesday of the last week, apparently chances are slim that you'll get on a jury.

So, I was just waiting for my ticket home after the end of the first trial when I was told to go sit back down. Ugh! Then, a couple of hours later, my name was called again. A second jury? You're kidding! This isn't the way it was supposed to go.

I troop upstairs with the rest of my group and we go through voir dire again. However, this time it's clear that the case involves drug possession, and will be considerably shorter than the last trial. I know this, because the prosecuting lawyer asked each of us directly, "Since this is a short case, will you be able to focus and render a verdict?" Which is odd, since I would think that the shorter a trial, the easier to stay awake... but I guess if you doze off for a one day trial you've missed the majority of the evidence. Anyway, I was found acceptable and the trail began.

This case was very different, and didn't involve the death of anyone, thankfully. Here's the story that came out in evidence:
The accused went to a cheap motel to buy crack. This was no secret, his attorney came right out and said that his guy was there to buy crack. But, he wasn't accused of buying drugs, only of possessing drugs. Yeah, I know, just follow along, it will become clear.

He goes there and meets up with his dealer, but before the deal can go down, there's a bomb threat and the motel is evacuated. So the accused and his dealer are hanging around outside, waiting to get the all clear to go back in. The motel property is now swarming with cops, firemen, bomb-sniffing dogs, and the like. In other words, not your idea place to conduct a drug deal.

In the course of the evening, our guy and his dealer start chatting with the cops. It all sounds very friendly, and the dealer even asks, "Hey, what happened? Did those guys in room nine get drunk and call in a bomb threat?" Ha, ha, everyone laughs. The motel is cleared and people are allowed back inside.

Just about this time, the cop that was talking to the accused and his brain surgeon dealer says, "Hey, wait a minute. We didn't release the room number that the bomb threat originated from." He reports this to his boss (who I'm going to call The Chief), who tells him to fetch those two guys so he can talk to them.

Now, this sounds bad, but remember that the cops aren't there to look for drugs. Matter of fact, now that the building has been cleared, most of them are packing up to go.

So the first cop and his partner find our two guys on the second floor, heading back to their room. They politely ask them to come downstairs and talk to the chief. They do so.

Now, here's what the cops don't know: Mr. Drug Dealer has $600 worth of crack cocaine in this hand. I guess he was about to hand it over to the accused, and didn't get the chance to pocket it before the cops found them. Now, he's in an elevator with a death-grip on this baggie of drugs, a cop on either side.

They come out into the lobby. Let me set the scene: the lobby is where the cops have set up their command center; it is crawling with uniformed officers and dogs. It's in this environment where the dealer tries to slip the drugs to the accused.

So the accused takes the baggie, and of course the cop standing less than two feet away sees this happen. He says, "Hey, what's that?" and a month later the guy is in front of the jury I'm sitting on, waiting to see if he'll be found guilty of possession.
So, this is where the law is strange. The accused went there to buy drugs, but since he didn't get a chance to do it, that's no crime. And he had drugs on his person, no one questions that. But this doesn't satisfy the legal definition of "possession" in and of itself. The accused has to of had knowledge of the possession for it to stick. Which makes sense, if someone slips a joint in your pocket without your knowledge and you get arrested, you don't technically have possession. Sound hard to prove? You bet it is.

So the lawyer of the accused tried to prove that, yes, his client took the drugs from the dealer, but he didn't know what he was taking, so it doesn't count.

A word about the defense lawyer... actually, two words: clueless boob. He was a little runty and pudgy guy, wearing an ill-fitting suit and cowboy boots. COWBOY BOOTS! And he was just a terrible lawyer. To try to "prove" that his client didn't have possession, he brought in a series of "witnesses" that weren't there that night, and didn't have any real knowledge of the situation.. they were just there to say what a good, stand-up guy the accused was. But don't forget, the first thing we learned was that he was there to buy drugs. Needless to say, this tactic didn't really work for me.

But, it was an interesting insight into the law. It was possible that this guy - willing drug purchaser or not - really didn't know what he took from the dealer. Maybe he just wanted him to hold his sunglasses for a minute. Maybe it was his mom's recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies. Was there any doubt as to his knowledge, and if so, was it reasonable doubt?

The testimony took all morning, then we retired for lunch. We came back and went directly into the jury room to deliberate (obviously, I wasn't an alternative to this jury, I was front and center).

Being in that jury room both left me feeling encouraged and disheartened with the American system of law. For the most part, the people on the jury were earnest, and really wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing. But, there was this one idiot who was inattentive and maybe, just maybe, retarded. Soon as we sit down, he says, "I think this is going to be a hung jury. 'Cuz I know you all are going to vote guilty but there's just no way I believe the guy is guilty." Naturally the rest of us sane jurors told him to not to say things like that, and to wait and just see how the discussion went.

We did a quick poll and found that it was about 45% guilty, 10% guilty, and 45% undecided. If I remember correctly, I fell into the undecided category. I mean, there was no doubt that the guy had drugs, but did his actions meet the legal definition? That was my hang-up.

So we discussed all the elements of the case, and even did some role playing. Frankly, that's what damned him for me, the role playing. I played the accused, another guy played the dealer, and two other people played the cops. We wanted to see exactly how the hand-off went.

And here's the thing: it wasn't like the dealer just reached out his hand and gave the accused a bag of drugs. The accused was holding a folded newspaper, fold-side up, and the dealer casually slid the drugs into the paper, then the accused sorta clamped it shut. It was a pretty clever thing, actually, and would have made one hell of a story if they hadn't been caught.

But they were. And the accused acted way too deliberately in concealing the drugs to not know what was going on. Once we walked through it, I was guilty all the way. Pretty much everyone else was, too.

And the inattentive retard? He finally said, "Oh well, if you all think he's guilty, I'll say guilty, too." Again, we all encouraged him to make up his own mind, and if he really thought the guy was innocent to explain his thinking to us, try to change our minds. Well, a "12 Angry Men" moment this was not, and he just rolled over and went with the crowd.

Afterwards, we discovered that this wasn't his first trial, it was actually the appeal. The first jury found him guilty, too. I have to wonder what his lawyer's strategy was the first go around, and if he adjusted it at all the second time. I can't imagine he could have sucked any more the first time.

Thus ends my time with the American trial system. What did I learn?

There is no way in hell I ever want to face a jury for any crime. Even when the jury is made up of honest, attentive people that are looking to do the right thing, you can still be found guilty without any real physical evidence, and your chances are at least 1-in-12 of getting some moron on your jury that doesn't care enough to make up his own mind.

Plus, it really struck me how important a good lawyer is. In both of these cases, especially the second, I really think a better lawyer would have generated an innocent verdict.

Oh, and I learned that when buying crack, keep your mouth shut!


#065 In which our hero does jury duty (pt. III).


The case was this: a one-year-old girl had died in the care of her foster mother. Her parents were crack-heads, thus the reason that she was removed from the home in the first place. The foster mother was being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The details of all the testimony are a little cloudy in my mind, but I remember the defense attorney clearly. He was tall, thin, a little ruddy-complexioned, and pissed off. His apparent strategy was to cast doubt on anyone and everyone that came within three feet of this woman and her foster daughter. But he was so angry about it that I was completely soured on anything he said. And, he appeared to be rather inept, to boot.

Things the defense claimed in his opening statements:
  • When EMS was called to resuscitate the child, they made a series of errors, and used defective equipment.
  • An unsupervised visit with the child's birth parents two days prior might have resulted in injuries that led to her death.
  • The bruising shown in the autopsy proved that the foster mother didn't hurt the child.
  • The foster mother had no history of physically punishing her children.
All of these things would blow up in his face during the course of the trail.

The prosecutors in this case were a man and a woman, the man was "first chair" to use the lingo I picked up from The Practice. They were well groomed, polished and poised. At all times they were polite and very confident, as if a conviction was a foregone conclusion. Maybe they weren't really that slick, but the bumbling, angry defense lawyer made them seem like the offspring of Perry Mason and Ben Matlock.

First witnesses where the EMT's that worked on this poor little girl. She was (allegedly) found in her crib -- not breathing -- by the foster mother, who immediately called the fire department. They did everything they could at the scene, then rushed her to the emergency room. She never woke up and was most likely already dead before they were even called.

Now, this trial was well before the events of September 11, when anyone wearing a uniform automatically gained "hero" status. But even so, these were the good guys. The defense lawyer tore into them, questioning their actions every step of the way. From his telling, they were incompetent boobs that could have saved this little girl's life if they had just tried a little harder. The lawyer was full of righteous indignation at their actions. For their credit, the EMT's handled it pretty well. They were obviously becoming angry at this constant haranguing of their abilities, but they remained calm and explained their actions.

What I walked away with from this part of the trial was that the EMT's tried their best to save the life of this little girl, but ultimately could not do it. I resented the defense lawyer for trying to create doubt about how hard they tried.

And as to his claim that they used defective equipment: the paperwork completely by the hospital indicated that were was a "leak" in the intubation tube the EMT's used. The defense lawyer jumped all over it, claiming that this broken piece of equipment didn't allow the little girl to get air into her lungs. However, during the prosecution portion of the questioning, it came out that the leak indicated in the report wasn't due to defective equipment, but rather was air leaking out around the edges of the tube. Apparently, in adult intubation tubes there is an inflatable collar that seals the airway and keeps the tube in place. The intubation tubes used for tiny children don't have this, and it's typical for air to leak out. However, sufficient air still gets into the lungs.

For me, this was incredibly damning evidence. Not of guilt or innocence for the accused, but of the idiocy of the defense. One of two things happened here: the lawyer read that report and assumed the equipment was faulty, and didn't bother to check his facts; or he knew what the report really meant and tried to bullshit the jury into thinking otherwise. Either way, I was hesitant to believe anything he said from that point forward.

Next up were the parents. Both were crackheads, and I think they were both currently in prison. Again, if I was sitting on this jury today, I'm sure I would have been extremely empathic toward these people... crackheads or no, their daughter had just died. But at that time, I remember thinking that it was a good thing that this child was removed from the home. The mother was your stereotypical crackwhore mom, strung out and shaky. She sassed back to the defense lawyer when he tried to beat her up on the stand, which I thought was funny. The judge actually had to worn her to just answer the questions. Basically, the defense tried to pin the blame on her, that she somehow inflicted injuries that resulted in her daughter's death two days later.

But, crackwhore or not, I didn't believe it. And the next expert to take the stand cemented it for me. A doctor testified that he thought it would be unlikely for the child to be asymptomatic for two days and then suddenly die of her injuries. But what the defender really hung his hat on was the bruising on the child's body. It was a greenish-purple, which he claimed could be conclusively used to indicate the age of the bruising. However, the doctor wouldn't go along with this theory. He explained that there isn't a set spectrum of colors that bruised flesh goes through, that it tends to be different on different people. The defender asked this same question of the EMT's and every other medical person that took the stand... no one would support him. He seemed frustrated and, naturally, angry that no witness would collaborate his theory.

Again, this just proved to me that he either didn't do his homework or was a poor lawyer.

The foster mother finally took that stand. She seemed kindly, and not a violent person. Could she has really struck or shook this baby hard enough to kill her? In the course of the testimony, it came out that she had spanked her kids in the past. Now, I didn't find that damning in and of itself - I was spanked as a kid by my father, and obviously I didn't die from it. But still... it did set up the idea that she had struck children before.

Now, all of this testimony came over the course of several days. Once the trial began we reported directly to the jury room, and were ushered directly into the courtroom as soon as all the players were in place. We broke for lunch around noon, then came back and listened to testimony until around 4pm, I think. We were not allowed to talk about the evidence between ourselves or with anyone else.

Remember, I was first alternate, meaning that if everyone remained healthy, I wasn't going to have to render a verdict. And after hearing the evidence, I really didn't want to. This wasn't a capital case, so it's not like the woman's life was in our hands... but we could send her to jail for quite awhile. I didn't want to have to make that decision.

However, there was one juror that worried me. An older woman, she seemed in ill health and was constantly late in the morning, and coming back from lunch. The judge became increasingly annoyed with her for holding things up. She also didn't seem especially attentive in the jury box. I thought for sure she was either going to call off sick or be kicked off the case by the judge.

The trial was winding down, but the prosecutors had one more grisly thing to show us: autopsy photos of the girl. Now, I've seen plenty of fucked-up things on the Internet, and truthfully, the images of this little girl weren't that bad. She wasn't cut open, we were just shown the bruising around her head and torso.

But, the thing is, we had just spent five days learning about this little girl, hearing from her mother and other people that had cared for her. She was described as a cute little lady who liked to play and laugh. It was hard to see her photo and know she was dead. But the worse was yet to come.

I don't know if this was a trick of the prosecutor or not, but it worked on me. The autopsy photos were projected on a screen. The prosecutor flipped through the photos of the girl; from the waist up, no autopsy scars, just bruising. She could have been sleeping. Then he went to a photo of her face "expressed." This means they basically peeled her face forward, so you could see her skull. It was pretty horrible, and all the worse since we had no warning. The prosecutor quickly flipped back, then explained what we were about to see. Oddly, the facial bruising was much more apparent on the inside of the face. But if he wanted us to feel horror, that's exactly what I felt.

And that was basically the whole trial. The defense made a horrible, angry closing ("there's no proof that she did it, and she didn't do it!!") and that was that. Mrs. Late From Lunch managed to make it to the end, and I was thanked and sent back to the jury holding pen.

I asked to be informed about the verdict, and much to my surprise was told that if I wanted, I could go up and sit in the audience when the verdict was read. I did so.

She was found guilty. She wailed and actually collapsed when the verdict was announced, it was pretty horrible. I read something in the paper a couple of weeks later about an appeal, but I think the guilty verdict was upheld.

If I had been in deliberations, would I have voted guilty? Boy, I don't know. There was no hard proof, really. No one saw her hit the child, there were not fingerprints or DNA or anything like that. I still had doubts, but did they pass the "reasonable doubts" test?

And that's the big question. Throughout the trial, the concept of "reasonable doubt" was hammered into us by both sides. The defense told us that if we had reasonable doubts, we couldn't convict. The prosecutor stressed that reasonable doubt didn't mean no doubts, or beyond a shadow of a doubt. We could still have some doubts and find her guilty.

I would have voted guilty. All of the medical evidence pointed to the fact that the injuries had to have happened fairly shortly before she actually died. The birth parents couldn't have done it days ahead. All fingers pointed to the foster mother.

Tatiana. The little girl's name was Tatiana.

Concluded in Part IV.


#064 In which our hero does jury duty (pt. II).

Voir dire

We shuffled up to the third floor, where the courtrooms are. Now, my law experience is drawn entirely from TV courtroom dramas, which I love. The courtrooms on TV and in the movies are always these huge oak and marble constructions that inspire awe and hushed tones. Not this one. The room was small, and the woodwork seemed cheap and slap-dash.

But the judge... he was a different story. I don't even remember his name, but he certainly left his mark on me. Tall, stern, deep-voiced, I was sure that if I so much as looked away he'd throw me in jail for inattention. I looked at him and thought, hangin' judge.

The first part of a trial is voir dire, when the actual jurors are selected. You rarely see this on TV. What stuck me most about this part is how nice everyone was to us. Up to this point, we dealt with your typical surly civil servants: sit down, go here, listen for your name, don't talk, etc. But now, everyone loved us. We were thanked repeatedly for sacrificing our time to help make the judicial system work. The judge spoke kindly to us, explaining every step of the process that we were about to enter in to. When the actual lawyers got to us, they said many of the same things.

That's something else that surprised me, how much time everyone was willing to spend with us. You always read about how the court system is jammed with too many cases, you'd think judges and lawyers would try to ram things through as quickly as possible. But no... things went forward at a very relaxed pace.

So basically for this phase of the trial, both lawyers are trying to ferret out anyone that might have pre-existing prejudice one way or the other by asking pointed questions. They can't come right out and tell us what the case was about, but you get the gist of it by the ways in which the questions were phrased.

And, it was clear to me by listening to the questions, that this trial involved the death of a child.

If I sat on that jury now, I would have a horrible time. The child who died (or was possibly murdered) was the age that my daughter is right now. I don't know how well I could have dealt. Not that it matters, because if the defense discovered I had a small child, I'm sure I would have been rejected for this particular jury. But then, even my twenty-nine year old, unmarried, childless self wasn't looking forward to it.

Hmm... that's a bit of a lie. During the questioning, the defense attorney asked the same question to all of the potential jurors: "Is there any kind of court case that you wouldn't be comfortable sitting through?" Most of us, myself included, said no. A few mentioned cases of rape. After we had all given our answer, the defender made an interesting comment. He said, "Typically, when I ask that question many people answer that they would be uncomfortable sitting through a case involving the death of a child."

I have no doubt that this is true. The thing is, we had all figured out by this point that the case was about the death of a child. And I bet that, like me, all the potential jurors where thinking about how horrible that was... but we still wanted to see the trial. Maybe it was just morbid curiosity, maybe the prospect of sitting in the jury room for another week was too much to face... but we all wanted to be on this jury, horrible or not.

The jury was selected, a pretty even mix of men and women, different ages and races. I was picked as first alternate. That is, if any of the jurors got sick or whatnot, I would be included in the deliberations. I would sit in the jury box and hear all the testimony.

Continued in Part III.


#063 In which our hero does jury duty (pt. I).

Jeez, been awhile since I've updated. Here's the thing: I almost always update at work, since when I'm at home it's far too easy to be distracted by television or Starcraft or my daughter (um, maybe not in the order. But then again, maybe so).

Anyway, we've been really busy at work lately, which is a good thing in a "whew! the agency won't go bankrupt" way, but totally sucks in a "man, I hardly have time to waste time surfing the Web!" way.

Anyway, the bulk of the rush seems to be over, for the moment at least. So, back to wasting my employers time.

Recently I read a nice blog article about jury duty (posted by Defective Yeti Mathew Baldwin. He's much more eloquent than me, and must have been taking notes. Read his entire experience here. It's worth it, and may make my ramblings seem more coherent).

So this got me thinking about the first and only time I've ever served on jury duty. It was both one of the most horrible and hilarious things I've ever done.

Now, this was probably six or seven years ago, and some of the details are sure to be fuzzy. I was living in Columbus at the time (which is the state capital, of course; i.e., lots of courts) and was a registered voter, so it was inevitable, I guess.


Got my summons in the mail. It funny how once you tell co-workers that you've been selected for jury duty that they immediately start telling you ways to get out of it. The truth was that I didn't want to get out of it... not for any "by God I've been chosen to sit in judgement of my fellow man and I shall answer the nation's call" reason, but because I had never done it before and was curious of the process. Plus, I wasn't enjoying my job at the time, and it was basically a two-week pass.

Now, I found myself extremely nervous about the whole experience. I've had some run-ins with the law in the past, and maybe I'm still a little gun-shy. Also, you're surrounded by cops and judges, and it really seemed like if you wondered down the wrong hallway or opened the wrong door you could be thrown into jail. Doesn't that happen all the time on TV? I could just see myself accidentally opening the stall door on a judge and being thrown into the pokey for contempt of court or judicial interruptious or something.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily advise someone to try to get out of jury duty... but if I did, it would be for this one reason: it's boring.

I guess I just don't really understand how the court system works, but it seems like it should work better than it does. Apparently, there's no correlation between the number of cases on the docket and the number of people they summon for jury duty. You and all the other potential jurors are herded into a holding room, waiting to be called for a case. I assume that some people are never called (or called and rejected) and spend all of their two weeks sitting in the jury room, collecting their $12 of free money daily. But for the first two days I was packed into a room that was far too small for the number of people it had to hold. There was one TV (which seemed to be always tuned to soap operas, which interested me not at all) and a couple dozen dated magazines. I wisely brought a book to read... but after reading for five hours straight, you just want something else to do. But there is nothing else to do... you can't leave the room, you need to be there to immediately respond to the call to be on a jury.

Finally, on day three I, and about 20 others, were called up. It's funny, for something that most people hate and want to avoid, once you're there it's like winning the lottery to be called. I found myself sitting there thinking, "please, call me this time. Please, please, please..." Had I known what I was in for, I might not have been so anxious.

Continued in Part II.