Tuesday, May 24, 2011

They Made Me Be The Judge!

To be honest, I feel a little bad for all the predictors of doom. How sad was that picture of the skinny guy in Times Square, who spent like $140,00 promoting this thing, There he was, looking at his watch, shoulders slumped, sporting a terribly disillusioned expression. A mob of jeering detractors, who let’s face it, fifteen minutes earlier probably had at least one shiver of concern, closed in all around him and all the skinny man could think of to say was, “I guess I was wrong.”   So there you go. Mistakes were made.  Let’s move on….maybe get a sandwich.

In case you forgot,  I recently promised to tell my court story so, for better or worse, here it is.  A while back I was summoned to County Court to serve my sentence...I mean duty. 

A very large group of us were brought up to a very large judicial room, with a very large judicial bench, at which a very large judicial judge eventually sat down.  We were shown a short video hosted by some actor whose name eludes me, but probably wasn’t Robert Blake, the former Little Rascal, and star of the mid 1970’s TV show Baretta, who was tried and acquitted of killing his wife in 2001. But maybe it was…

After the movie, we were then entertained by a raffle in which the prizes were apparently us. If your juror number was pulled from the rolling cage, you had to stand up and if you didn’t trip on the way down to the front of the room, you were awarded to the attorneys looking to seat a jury, and hauled away.  I figured, this was an excellent development since I have never won any sort of raffle in my life. So what were the odds?   

Right…on the very last number to be called…I finally win! An all expense trip to the jury room to be questioned as to my juror capabilities.  And then I win again, since after many questions and back and forth, I am also the last juror selected for this particular jury.

Despite our whining, we are congratulated for our civic pride and told to go home for the weekend, speak of our experiences to no one, and return on Tuesday, bright eyed and bunny tailed, since this was also Easter weekend and the bailiff was desperately trying to infuse us with holiday spirit.  I believe a secret handshake may have been involved as well.

So, on the appointed Tuesday, we find ourselves, civically proud, in County Court,  sitting in a small musty juror's room, waiting to be called in to render justice in the matter of an elderly woman who was being sued for hitting a younger woman with her car...or vice versa. The facts elude me at this time, as well as they did then, but I was not about to let that stand in the way of justice. I mean woman, old or young, versus car, made in the USA or import, it’s no contest, right?  I mean what’s the defense….”She had it coming, your honor…”?  The facts, muddled or not, were clear…at least to me. Even though I did know a few people that I would gladly…but I digress.

Sitting there, observing my fellow jurors while away the time, my mind begins to wander, as my mind is prone to do.  I am somewhat jealous of my mind in that regard, since as usual, I am forced to stay behind.  The next thing I know I'm sitting in the courtroom.  The trial has finally begun.

Hours passed, yet time seemed suspended as we focused on the case at hand.  It was only later that we were told that the official court room clock had been broken since 1962.

The arguments were coming at a fast and furious pace.  Our heads, bouncing back and forth like ping pong balls.  But then, suddenly, without warning, which would tend to indicate suddenness, in and of itself,  the judge gasps, grabs his chest, and plummets from the bench.


Everyone rushed to his side, because the very sound of the Italicized, Bold, Capitalized THUNK!  told us that this was indeed serious. However, we were assured by the bailiff that this was a common occurrence, especially on this bench, especially after post-holiday dinners featuring Fettuccine Alfredo.

A sigh a relief rushed across the crowded bench, but apparently the judge was finished for the day.

 A cloud of confusion descended on the courtroom. We all stood around and wondered how we could go on.  The Lawyers continued to argue, possibly about lunch, while the old lady grabbed the young girl, and tossed her to the courtroom floor, screaming, "I'll show you who’s got a bad back, now you little—!"

Anarchy ruled the day.  Something had to be done.  Luckily, my fellow jurors and I had bonded into a close knit group, having earlier defeated several of the other Juries in the Juror's lounge, in hotly contested leg wrestling matches. We had faced all comers and had proven victorious in all matches.

Naturally, my fellow jurors turned to me, in this hour of their most dire need, as I had proven myself to be the strongest and bravest of all leg combatants. It seemed reasonable to assume that I was naturally the wisest and, without saying, which I’m sure was an oversight, the most good looking of the lot.

"Please, wise and moderately handsome one," they beseeched. "You must lead us to a wise and moderately fair decision so that we may ultimately be set free.

Alas, I relented, how could I not, but with one non-negotiable proviso.  In order to add spice to the case I required that the attorneys must now present the remainder of their arguments in song and dance. 

My fellow jurors gasped in appreciation, as the testimony had grown tedious and dry.

So off to the judge’s chambers I was escorted, where I was given my Judicial robe to don.  I was not too pleased with the fit, which fell several inches above my knees, and the back constantly flew open as I walked, which normally would not have been a problem, had I been told that I was allowed to keep the remainder of my street clothes on.  Who knew?  But I suspect the female court reporter, and juror number 3 did not seem to mind as I took to the regal judge’s bench, sticking to the regal judge’s synthetic, Naugahyde chair. And the proceedings began.

I listened patiently for several minutes until at last, I gaveled the proceedings to a halt, saying that I had grown weary of these same old song and dance routines, and complained that the synthetic Naugahyde chair was giving me a very nasty rash. I directed the bailiff to procure me an ointment and ordered the plaintiff and defendant to continue their wrestling match to determine the outcome.  Two out of three falls was decreed.  

In the meantime I ordered the two lawyers to be sentenced to 10 years of jury duty and the wearing of judicial robes for several days, without pants. 

Court Dismissed… 

But in the real world, we waited quietly from 10:15 to 11:30 in the jury room outside the court room.  There, we sat, "Twelve Angry Men" (and women, except there were only eight of us) and we're told that this was our home until the case was decided.  Great, we thought.  Then the real judge came in wearing a sheepish expression.  He explained that the plaintiff was ill and that the trial would not start until Thursday.  Many looks of disdain flew around the room.  The judge then said, he would not expect any of us to be on call for that amount of time, and declaring himself a "juror's judge", said we could all be excused if we so desired and be exempt for the next four years.   We all looked at each other wondering what the catch was, and then, as a unit, bolted for the door.  The Marshall who was assigned to guard us asked, "Are you sure you all want to go?"

We were...

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