I believe in civic duty and civic responsibility. I hold that participatory forms of governance are the only just way for civilization as a whole moving forward. Therefore, I pay my taxes because I understand that governments require money to operate. I vote (mostly) because I understand that my participation matters even though it doesn’t really. And I woke up and reported to my first jury duty call with relative excitement.
I actually enjoy law-related matters. More than The People’s Court, Law & Order, or John Grisham novels, my mother was a legal secretary when I was young. I spent a lot of time in and out of the courthouse, lawyers’ offices, and in legal libraries. Yeah, it was boring but it also left me at least somewhat interested in the process.
Philosophy didn’t hurt. Other than Math, Philosophy is one of the most popular majors if you plan to attend Law School. That’s not saying a whole lot, but I can understand why someone interested in law might also be interested in Philosophy. I met many fellow majors in my tenure, several of which were intending to go to Law School in the near future. Of those, most were pompous assholes, which seems reflective of most Philosophy majors and most lawyers. “Major in Pompous Assholery” doesn’t sound as good on the commercials though.
One more digression: I hate the unofficial official dress code of courtrooms. I told my mom repeatedly that I was going dressed as casual as possible. For one, it is Alabama in May and it is hot outside. For another, I refuse to believe that my state of dress, barring offensive imagery, in any way affects my ability to assist in fairly rendering a verdict.
Yeah, I get it, it’s all about respecting the institution. It is perfectly fair for the judge to hold me in contempt or try and publicly shame me for my lack of nicer attire because hey, we have to respect the court. But … Fuck that. ‘Of the people, for the people, by the people’ to me means accepting that people of all walks, races, religions, creeds, genders, and even dress are welcome to participate in their own governance. Putting on your ‘Sunday best’ for court seems like a relic of the days when white male landowners ran the show and the concept doesn’t jive at all with my idea of an all-inclusive republic.
So, digressions aside, I arrive at the courthouse on the first day right on time. Apparently right on time is a bit late since everyone is inside already, unbeknownst to me since there are zero people outside the courtroom directing traffic. Sure, I spent time in the same courthouse as a kid, but since then, I have only returned for driver’s licenses. I am a good kid: I don’t know where I am going in a courthouse.
By chance, someone asks me if the jurors are already in the room, and someone else responds they are. I high tail it in and grab a seat, around three names prior to mine being called so I am good.
I then proceed to spend an hour watching different people try their hand at getting excused by the judge. Afterward, I’m told to come back the next day for a trial. There was no vetting process and no questions. My return was solely because the clerk started with H on the call for jurors.
The next day, I returned better dressed. The day before I came in with a very nice polo (makes my eyes dance like a Fae in sparkling moonlight) but shorts and flip-flops. No one said a word but the door to the courtroom expressly forbid any ‘beach-related wear’. Whatever. I wore the same shirt again (FAE IN SPARKLING MOONLIGHT) but with pants and tennis shoes. No one cared then either despite my eyes … nevermind, you get it.
Anyway, I sit and play on my phone. The judge hasn’t come in yet, there’s no lawyers or anything. It’s a room full of people who would rather be elsewhere. One gentleman did catch my eye. The day before, he wore a button-up dress shirt with a University of Alabama logo on it. I remembered because I thought to myself, “That’s at least as trashy as wearing shorts.” This time he had on an Auburn University one. In case you are unaware, these two schools have a very long rivalry with one another that divides the entire state of Alabama into regions of orange or crimson. This man’s wardrobe too seems to be divided into either orange or crimson. Some people I don’t understand.
After a half hour of waiting, the judge wanders in and announces that there will be no trial. Blah Blah Blah fairness Blah Blah Blah don’t want a retrial. I walked out, collected my twenty dollar check for two days of “service”, and left.
It won’t be enough to change me from socialist to libertarian (not that the two ideas are all that incompatible but that’s a different topic), but it is an excellent example of outdated government bureaucracy wasting the people’s time and the government’s money. The fact that I had to physically show up so my name could be counted and so that they could make sure I was fit for service seems ridiculous. The fact that I had to return for a trial that wasn’t ready to be tried seems doubly insane.
Some people just want to watch the world burn. Others, like me, want to watch it burn so we can rebuild it into something that doesn’t ignore modern technology, modern science, and modern understanding. Maybe it’s the nerd in me, but I recognize without any hesitation that sometimes it is best to reformat rather than fiddle around with uninstalling and installing a bunch of stuff.
I am ready to start the process any time.
#CivicDuty #JuryDuty #Governance