Thursday, March 23, 2006

My civic duty to get drunk

A few months ago I received a letter in the mail calling me to perform my civic duty as a citizen of these here United States. No, I wasn't asked to speak out about my political preferences or to knit hats for the Army. I was asked to show up for jury duty.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts they have a one-day required duty. If you show up, sit in the room and participate in a trial you are let off the hook for 3-years. Well, I was called to appear about 1 week after the 3 year anniversary of my first jury duty in this fair Commonwealth. The first time I was called (3-years ago), I showed up...read for the morning...and left at 1pm free as the breeze. I anticipated the same for this time around. Apparently 80% of the jurors in Mass serve for one day. They are either not picked or they are put on a trial that is short. Everyone I know here has had the same experience as I did the first time.

Honestly, I do not mind this call of duty.* I participated in an incredibly interesting trial before I left Georgia. This experience was valuable as I learned a ton about the justice system and how to commit arson and get caught. It was cool, very Twelve Angry Men and all that.

This time around, being the 3rd time that I've been a part of a jury pool, I knew to head out the door prepared. I figured that I would have the morning to knit and read and generally relax. However, my throat was sore, I had about a zillion deadlines at work to meet, and a very aggressive social schedule. Which made me worried about the prospect of actually being chosen. When brainstorming possible tactics that I could employ to guarantee a free afternoon my husband suggested that I simply, when questioned, start speaking in tongues and bang my head against the wall. But that would be embarrassing. I'm no good at embarrassing. I came up with another idea. The next morning (yesterday), I packed my bag for the day.


knitting. fruit. hard liquor.

I walked out the door and said to my husband, "Here's to not getting chosen for a jury."

Can you tell where this is going yet?

Can you see the fuzzy screen and hear the foreboding music?

I was picked for a trial.

A Criminal Trial.

A Criminal Trial that is supposed to last for at least five days.

Five.

Days.

The novelty of the justice system wore off about four minutes into this trial.

Worst part? Judges frown at knitting during testimonies.

Blech.

* I cannot hear the word "duty" without giggling just a little. Especially when a southerner says it. Oh, to be a four years old again.

PS - Thank you all for the kind words about the article. However, I'm not famous. You do realize that it is the type of paper that people get just to have something to line the hamster cage with, right?




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29 Comments:

Anonymous Kat said...

Have fun. I'm overdue for jury duty. I got picked 5 years ago for a sexual harassment trial about breast implants. No knitting during testimony would drive me batty.

3/23/2006 6:38 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Five days! And no knitting! It wouldn't be so bad if you could knit. Crikey! Last time I was picked they estimated that long too but it ended up being only one. Fingers crossed you get a similar story.

3/23/2006 6:39 PM  
Blogger maryse said...

clearly the judge is a fuckwit and if i were either lawyer i'd ask for a mistrial because clearly the judge just won't get it.

you know, i've been called for jury duty 4 times and i have not once even made it before a judge?

i may have just jinxed myself.

good luck for days 2-5

3/23/2006 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Cara (and Ann, but she made me say that!) said...

Ohmygod! I once asked my shrink to write me a note to get out of jury duty and he refused. Is it a cool case? Should we worry about gangsters or Gene Hackman tampering with our Bookish Girl? I say you should stand up in the middle of the trial and tell them that you can't concentrate unless you have your knitting! I NEED MY KNITTING!

3/23/2006 6:45 PM  
Blogger loaded goat said...

honey...

you said "hard liquor"

:)

3/23/2006 6:45 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Yowza. Maybe finger knitting?!

3/23/2006 7:05 PM  
Blogger Norma said...

You crack me up.

3/23/2006 7:22 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Yikes. I hope they at least assigned you to a courthouse close to your home. Last time I had jury duty they wanted me to travel from Cambridge to Lowell.

3/23/2006 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Amanda Cathleen said...

You can't knit? Tell the Judge not only will it help your concentration it will keep you awake! *L* I was called for Jury Duty one month after I moved out of Western Mass. Talk about lucky! I hope the next 5 days go by like lightning!
*snicker* she said Duty! A LOT! *snicker*

3/23/2006 8:04 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

I feel your civic doody pain. Keep dozing off and tell the judge your narcoleptic. That'll get you outta there fast.

3/23/2006 9:02 PM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

You can't knit? How are you supposed to concentrate?

I got out of my last try at Jury Duty (they never pick me) because I used to babysit the arresting officer. Yay, Mike!

3/23/2006 11:39 PM  
Blogger Vicki Knitorious said...

At least you won't be sequestered... will you??? My mom was sequestered for a murder trial once and it was so weird -- her talking to me on the phone, always with someone there; me taking her clothes to the hotel, but not actually being able to give them to HER. She did learn how to play sheepshead. I have never, ever been called to duty myself -- I don't know what that means.

3/23/2006 11:44 PM  
Blogger CynCyn said...

did u REALLY take the hard liquor? sending your package out to you tomorrow.

3/24/2006 12:30 AM  
Blogger noblinknits said...

You really know how to pack! If not knitting during testimony then are you allowed to drink?

3/24/2006 4:55 AM  
Blogger katiedid said...

Aw man, how is it that the people who don't want to do jury duty get chosen and the people who think it would be super fantastic fun don't?!

I'm crossing my fingers that the person is obviously guilty so the trial only lasts one day!

3/24/2006 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Juno said...

Let's hear it for plea bargains.

3/24/2006 12:05 PM  
Blogger Nik said...

you should have shown them the liquor.

3/24/2006 5:08 PM  
Blogger Lucia said...

My sympathies. At least they let you bring the knitting (and the booze?) into the courthouse, so you can knit between witnesses and party when it's over.

3/24/2006 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

Oh boy. I look forward to hearing about this. I was nearly picked once, but then was stuck off the panel.

3/24/2006 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Laurie said...

OH god, what a nightmare. And one we are supposed to welcome. You should have said something like, "I just know slime like that HAS to be guilty. They always are."

I'm amazed you got your knitting past the front screener. How did you do THAT?

3/25/2006 10:28 AM  
Blogger Thea said...

I'm thinking they picked you BECAUSE of the liquor. Everyone knows how boring it gets, maybe they're hoping you'll spice things up. But really, what do you make with tequila, Jim Beam and fruit? Seems to me it's going to be a really nasty kind of sangria...

Next time, tell 'em you're pregnant and if you don't eat or drink every twenty minutes, you'll throw up. Then during selection, look all peaked every 20 mins or so and excuse yourself for a drink. Take an apple out of your bag and eat it. Make sure you sit in the middle so everyone gets all annoyed when you make your way down the row. Explain your case to the bailiff or anyone else who asks/chastises/comments to you, loudly in plain sight. Worked for me. Twice.

The first time I really WAS pregnant. The second time I should have gotten an Emmy.

Who knows, try it in the trial. Maybe they'll decide to replace you. Good luck!

3/25/2006 9:17 PM  
Blogger Knitting Painter Woman said...

Please clarify, m'dear... Did they merely frown or ACTUALLY forbid you to knit? My NLP instructor said that knitting actually FREES UP YOUR BRAIN to remember information and process at a deeper level. Perhaps SAYING that would get you dismissed.

What got ME dismissed last time, was, when the judge asked if any potential jurors need to speek with him, was telling him that I had pretty much made up my mind what had happened between the plaintiff and defendant. He was very courteous and told me to go home. Just saying.

Now that they're arresting people in Texas in BARS for drinking... I'm going to leave the hard liquor home. Spiked Starbucks is worth considering, though.
Guess what the word verification word is: rumumx !!!!

3/25/2006 10:56 PM  
Blogger Yarngirl said...

Of course you can't knit while listening to testimony - you need one hand for the bottle of booze! I think my three years is up this summer........

3/27/2006 6:40 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

Maybe they'll plead it out. One can hope.

I've only had jury duty once and at the time I worked for and insurance company so everyone said I'd never get picked. Wrong! Guess who got selected as the foreperson.

3/27/2006 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Samantha said...

I've gotten called twice for jury duty, and gotten stuck on criminal trials both times. What about me says "perfect juror with nothing better to do"? First one was back in Boston, 3 days. It was like being in my own personal Jerry Springer episode... Worst part was the creative T route I had to take to get to the courthouse meant I had to get up at the ass-crack of dawn...

2nd trial was fraud and embezzlement here in CO last summer. Was supposed to last 3 days, turned into 5. The "stipend" i got for the last 2 days was only about 1/4 of what I had to pay for daycare during the trial. Nice. And we had a crazy lady on the jury. Really. Oh, and the jury room caught fire, too. Really. And the judge was 90% deaf and kept falling asleep, and then yelling at the lawyers. Really. I can't make this up- i'm not that creative!

I hate jury duty. And in CO, even serving for 5 excruciating days only gets you off the hook for *1* year!

Good luck :-) I'll be rooting for you to get drunk and knit during boring testimony.

3/27/2006 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was stuck on a criminal trial too; out of work for almost 2 weeks. No knitting, no drop spindling, AND they wouldn't let us take notes. It was the worst experience of my life. But, hey! ...you might have a blast!

3/28/2006 8:22 AM  
Blogger Lorette said...

Tell them that you can't keep your mouth shut and that you're going to blog about it all. That might get you disqualified. If that doesn't work, take a few dozen shots of that Jim Beam and get drunk and disorderly, that will make them send you home.
The only jury duty case I ever got close to involved a male prostitute. I was so disappointed that I didn't get picked. I really wanted to hear the rest of that story.

3/28/2006 3:04 PM  
Anonymous robin said...

okay but you're not going to be seqeustered?? right?? And then think of it this way, if you were on trial for something AND you were obviously innocent, would you want someone on the jury to be knitting - just saying - 'cause I get so involved in the stuff, I kinda' think I'd want the person to be paying pretty darn close attention. AND BTW - loved your article - 4 out of 5 stars ratings - that's pretty good (I gave you a 5)

3/28/2006 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Kay said...

Well at least your bag is already packed for New York! xox Kay

4/01/2006 10:42 AM  

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