So I finally got called for jury service. I have never served on a jury and have rarely been called. I looked forward to the opportunity to perform this civic duty. I thought it would be interesting.
Over 20 of us reported to the Austin Municipal Court on Valentine's Day and were told that six of us would be chosen to hear a Class C Misdemeanor case. We were numbered, and I was Juror Number Six. So I figured I would be picked. I mean.....why not? A Class C Misdemeanor ain't exactly the O.J. Simpson case.
We entered the courtroom and there was the defendant--a lumpy, middle aged white guy in blue jeans who was defending himself. We found out that the maximum penalty he faced was a $200 fine, so I guess it didn't make much sense for him to hire a mouthpiece.
The City of Austin was represented by a very pretty young prosecuting attorney who reminded me of my daughter. I know I'm supposed to be fair and impartial here, but I'm ready to convict this guy and send that young lady home with a victory. Fine him the full two Benjamins.
The pretty young prosecutor asked the jury panel some innocuous questions, nothing that singled me out in anyway. She didn't ask if any of us were lawyers. I still figure I'm on this jury.
Then we found out what the case was about. Jaywalking. JAYWALKING!!!! Can you believe that???? I'm taking time off work to deal with whether or not this bozo pays a $200 fine for crossing the street in the middle of the road?????
So we juror wannabes had do leave for a few minutes while they "selected" the jury. What a joke! Obviously in this petty case they will just take the first six people. Me being Number Six, I'm in. In fact, with all my legal training and experience, I figure I'm a shoo-in to be the foreman. I'm already practicing my lines: "Yes, your honor, we have come to a verdict. We find the defendant GUILTY!"
Very soon we are called back in. The judge then calls the members of our panel who will serve as jurors. "Juror Number One," says the judge, and Number One takes his seat in the jury box. It continues as I expected: Juror Number Two. Juror Number Three. Juror Number Four. Juror Number Five. I'm next! I prepare to rise and take my seat with my fellow jurors, when I hear the judge say "Juror Number Seven."
WHAT!! They don't want me???? I have been passed over. How can this be??? I feel the eyes of all the others in the courtroom boring in on me. They must be thinking, "What's wrong with that guy? What do they know about him? Is he a serial jaywalker? (I am...but how could they know????) Does he have some hidden past? Did they see some shiftiness in his eyes?"
The judge thanks us for our service and we are dismissed. And as this was happening, I figured out what must have happened. When I got the call to jury service I had to fill out a lot of information online. That pretty young prosecutor had read all of that. She knew about me. She knew about my profession. She knew how long I had been practicing law. She didn't want a lawyer on that jury.
Dadgummit. I woulda been a good juror. Maybe next time.