Sunday, April 5, 2015

In the Belly of the Beast: Called For Jury Duty


This is a bit off the beaten track but since Easter Sunday is generally a pretty slow news day I thought that I’d write about it as a general observation on the judicial system. Believe it or not I am in my early fifties and had never once been called upon to do jury duty until just recently.  So on Thursday morning I headed over to my local courthouse, an opulent palace that was given to the forces of law enforcement courtesy of the taxpayers and prepared to suffer through my state enforced civic responsibility.

Now I can dig all of that stuff about how serving on a jury is the very lynchpin of our judicial system that we all have been indoctrinated to believe since grade school. In reality though, that system is crumbling by the day and with the most serious criminals occupying corporate boardrooms, statehouses, the U.S. Congress and the various agencies of the federal government it’s getting really tough to buy into any of that hogwash anymore. Kind of like the Easter Bunny, it’s a nice myth but at the end of the day it’s a fantasy.

So anyway, I rolled up well in advance of my 8:15 reporting time to beat the crowd and snag a decent seat while I waited. Now I don’t really have any need to visit the courthouse, the jail facility or any other building associated with the police state as I am a law-abiding citizen so it was a new experience for me. From the minute I got out of my car and locked the door I could hear something droning on from the direction of the building. Jesus Christ! I thought, they can’t possibly be playing rap music in front of the damned courthouse at 7:35 in the morning can they? But as I got closer and within audible range I soon recognized it as one of those warnings that are commonplace in our nation’s airports since the post 9/11 occupation by the national security state.  The primary reason why I don’t fly anymore – other than I just hate it – is that I resent being treated like a freaking criminal by the government TSA goons and anyone who has read my writings fully understands my contempt for the police state.

So with the booming electronic voice emanating from the loudspeakers as though it were the word of God himself, I proceeded towards the main entrance of the Criminal Justice Center. Once you have entered the citadel, the very first thing you have to do is put ALL of your shit in a tote to go through the X-ray machine. I did this with no problem, having read the instructions carefully and knowing what was and what was not taboo. I had planned on using the opportunity away from my regular day job to do some writing and had brought my laptop and a tablet to while away the time.  The security theater made me think of the Reichstag for some reason that I just can’t put my finger on.  I was now within the belly of the beast.

Standing just beyond the X-ray machine was a phalanx of huge cops, all standing at parade rest and glaring menacingly at all entrants to the building. While they were not clad in standard issue black Darth Vader gear it was pretty obvious that they were there to crack skulls if necessary. Some hipster dumbass in line two people in front of me nearly was pounded to a pulp for the grave security breach of attempting to enter the facility with an open water bottle (mine was in the briefcase with the seal unbroken per the instructions) but his cute young girlfriend intervened and rapidly led him out of the building. With the blood scent of the storm troopers already aroused I loudly exclaimed that “Good morning, I’m here for jury duty, could you please show me where I need to go?”. I was then treated with the utmost of respect and courtesy.

So I got into the jury pool gathering room which was huge and had theater seating and grabbed a spot at the very back, the standard location in any meeting room sought out by troublemakers like me. I settled into my seat, whipped out my tablet and started scanning the morning news for writing material. I was really, really hoping that I would not be called to go upstairs as my head was throbbing due to the high allergen count. This week the air quality index locally had the allergens hovering at around 11.8 – on a scale of 10 – so I definitely didn’t bring my A game. I was just hoping to be able to eke it out and if I did get called, make some sort of statement to the attorneys that would get them to jettison me to find a less ‘opinionated’ person.

Hey, we all have our biases and mine happen to be that I hate the state, especially the judicial system that serves as the main processing arm of the massive American for profit prison gulag. I also happen to believe that most of the people who end up on trial are scumbags who deserve to be there in the first place because they were stupid enough to engage in criminal behavior and got caught. I have no tolerance when it comes to the dregs of society and while it isn’t technically legal to just shoot the scumbags while they are in the act of committing their crimes they do need to be kept away from decent folks. This is a bit complicated in that there are the unlucky ones who are caught up by unjust sentencing laws but the real bad guys deserve zero mercy.

So then once everyone who received a summons is inside the room it’s time for the orientation. A huge video screen lights up and the song and dance begins about the dos and don’ts of serving on a jury. We are all lectured about how the greatest aspect of the U.S. judicial system is the constitutionally mandated guarantee of being able to be judged by a jury of your “peers”.  Like my “peers” are murderers, thugs, thieves, crackheads, rapists, con artists, child molesters and the sort of flotsam and jetsam that floats through the court system – give me a break. As a testament to the all-inclusive nature of the random selection process there was a guy sitting two rows in front of me with a shaved head and swastika tattoos. It looked like he may have wandered into the wrong room and should have been next door at the jail or in uniform down by the X ray machine.

There is a lecture by a stern looking fat black woman “judge” who has heard “all the excuses” so don’t even try to get out of it and then a short video of an actor dressed in a bailiff uniform who speaks in a Guido style New York though guy accent who further hammers it home. There was a good amount of sly French bashing including the name dropping of Alexis de Tocqueville as being very impressed with early American democracy even though it’s likely that the majority of the people in the room wouldn’t know him from Alexa Trump.

Finally, the Big Kahuna of all of the state judges comes onto the telescreen and delivers a lecture about our “civic responsibility” of serving as a juror. He blasts the negative attitude of people who are less than enthusiastic drones and scares the shit out of everyone in the room.  The supreme justice also delivers a warning on the use of cellphones and electronic devices and carries on about how the internet is not a reliable source of information so don’t believe everything on it. This is a typical attitude of one of the authoritarians who run the system because the internet and the chance at finding the truth are a threat like throwing holy water on Count Dracula to them.

Then there is a break as they get the daily docket – I researched it the night before on that evil damned internet and saw it was extremely light with the jury cases being a dude who was busted with crack and another being tried for a major traffic offense. Either of which I could have easily disqualified myself on (opposition to war on drugs and a good friend who was killed by a drunken driver ten years ago) so if I even got to the question stage I would have an out.

So after the break, we were all encouraged to use the jury lounge  – and here is the killer – FOX NEWS was playing on the television which stuck a trident-sized fork in the ass of all of their sanctimonious horseshit lecturing about not being biased. Then the master of ceremonies walks to his podium, announces that our break is over and starts calling everyone up who was to be paid for their service.

After all of them had received their money, the guy announces that in an unprecedented development that NONE of the judges had any cases ready and that we all were free to go. I could not possibly imagine that they may have been influenced because the courts were closed on Good Friday for Easter weekend.

The room which was 3/4 of the way filled with about 90 people erupted in raucous cheering and then we left, assured of having performed our civic duty.  I was home by 9:30 am but got the full day off with pay from my regular job. On Friday when I went in my boss asked me how it went I said that I didn’t get picked and that “we were out of there before 3 o’clock” and left it at that.

And the best part is that my original summons was for the Monday morning after the Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts playoff game and being a lifelong Bronco fan I changed it. In Florida we are allowed to do this one time only and I didn’t want to show up hung over after celebrating a win. The totally lethargic Broncos and their old and fading choker of a mercenary quarterback Peyton Manning ended up getting flogged 24-13 in a game that wasn’t in any way as close as the final score. I just picked April 2nd out of my ass as an arbitrary substitute date.

Is this a great fucking county or what?


I would however love to get seated on the jury of a huge media spectacle of a trial so I can cash in big time. Just look at all of the careers that got launched by the O.J. Simpson circus of a trial, I would love nothing more than to have the bookers for the Nancy Grace Show giving me a call.