The first time I served on a jury, we reached a verdict based entirely on which attorney had better hair.
Maybe I'm exaggerating--but not by much. Twelve jurors, one judge, two attorneys, and a handful of witnesses spent an entire day adjudicating the thrilling case of the Eagle Scout who claimed that he honestly intended to pay for those baseball cards in his pocket but just forgot. This was more than 20 years ago so I don't remember why we voted to acquit, but I do recall that the defense attorney repeatedly gestured toward his visibly pregnant wife out in the pews, as if to suggest that a guy blessed with both terrific hair and an adorably pregnant wife couldn't possibly be involved in anything underhanded.
I think of this today for two reasons: first, our friendly little town made national news last week when a judge issued subpoenas and threatened dire consequences for potential jurors who ignored the call of jury duty (read it here); and second, because I've been called to serve jury duty next week, right in the heart of Can't-Pack-Another-Thing-Into-My-Schedule Season.
I mentioned yesterday that I've been called to serve jury duty, and a colleague said, "Again?" Yes: the county bailiff's preference for my name is so well known that even casual acquaintances know about it. "That's Bev," they say, "the county's favorite juror."
This is the fifth time this year alone that I've been called to serve on a jury, but so far four of those trials were cancelled and I weaseled my way out of another one by claiming pressing dental work. (True.) While I was on the phone with the bailiff sharing my tale of dental woe, I tried to persuade him to take my name off the list.
"I get called every year but my husband has never been called," I said.
He just laughed, so I went for the heartstrings:
"Listen," I said, "I was the foreman of the Grand Jury that indicted that 13-year-old kid who broke into the gun cabinet and shot his grandma and his disabled aunt at close range with a shotgun. I had to look at those crime-scene photos. Just on the basis of that trauma, I ought to be exempt from jury duty forever."
"We appreciate your service," he said, "But you'll have to come when you're called."
And so I do, but after all the fuss about threats to fine jurors who don't come running when called, I hope so many other jurors will show up that I'll be lost in the crowd.