In 1974 I was on my first and last jury. I never tried to get out of jury duty since then. It’s just that either one side or the other doesn’t love me. Maybe I give out powerful vibes about thinking for myself in spite of any sheeple instructions from a judge.
My April 6th call to civic duty included 101 people in a jury pool for a single trial. Remember, you only need 12 for a jury. You may ask, “So was this crowd assembled for a murder, child prostitution ring, or operating a meth lab?” No, it was a consumer crime. A couple were charged with possession of meth and a meth pipe – two misdemeanors that are de rigueur in Clearlake. I looked around at all the high priced help in the room and all I could think about was “What a waste of money in a county that has none .”
I have a problem with meth users. But I also have a problem with alcoholics (which I am borderline myself), people who buy politicians to approve unsafe drugs, cigarette smokers and manufacturers, GMO distributors, and especially, food producers who are destroying Americans’ health by saturating everything in addicting high fructose corn syrup. (Noooo, we’ don’t care about Type 2 diabetes.) Even though they are worthless burnouts, I feel cranksters are popular scapegoats that are entitled to equal protection under the law. We are not the “United States of Health” so let’s quit kidding ourselves.
During the first part of the process, people plead hardship and got dismissed. No surprise there. The next stage dealt with each person’s ability to be fair. Many people suffered a personal loss that disabled their fairness gene and they admitted it. Most of them had a messianic belief in the testimony of cops. Scary. I swear its gotten worse in spite of all the You Tube videos. Fortunately, the judge dismissed them. But the judge did not dismiss one lady who said the court’s instructions had to follow “God’s Law” (Good name for a TV series) for her to accept the judge’s words.
The judge’s next questions dealt with the jurors’ exposure to the criminal justice system – personal, family, and as victims. Other inquiries explored jurors’ personal and family history as employees in the criminal justice system. Shocking! Nearly half the room had family that had jobs in some kind of police or prosecutor work somewhere. I did not notice this in the past. We are now in a police state.
Among the pool survivors a draw of 18 jurors is selected. I am chosen. The defense and prosecutor do a little dance of lecturing and questioning. Then the challenges begin. Each side gets ten juror challenges that they don’t have to justify or they can pass. With all these cop lovers and druggie haters in the pool the prosecutor is pretty happy. He only uses one challenge and passes on the rest of his turns. The defense is knocking off jurors like bowling pins.
Only jurors in seats 1 to12 can be eliminated so jurors 13 to 18 can be moved up into the hot seats. After 6 eliminations I am still there so another 6 jurors are called up. Seven is gone. Eight is gone. The defense has questioned some jurors personally but runs out of time before they get to me – too bad. The defense uses challenge number 9 – I am gone. Big mistake. The defendants are screwed, for I am not against mere possession of anything short of nuclear weapons. And I can’t be intimidated by large majorities against me.
This was my short day at work so it wasn’t much of a reprieve. Still, I got to listen and talk to a few normal people for a change. My bus passengers tend to dumb me down. But I am not going to waste my time playing it “Middle America” next time I get called for a jury. Their early warning system is sharp and I don’t smell like a peasant.
Some time in the future I will get called for another jury. When that happens I will shift up to performance mode early and try to pollute the jury pool with my creative answers to judge and prosecutor questions. Maybe I can plug this blog. Maybe I can jar some damaged citizens into thinking for themselves. If nothing else, I will be able to show that not everyone who shows up for jury duty is a card carrying member of the establishment. I want to be persona non grata on the class war stage. Maybe they will charge me with contempt and give me a show of my own at a future trial.