When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I was part of a pull-out program for advanced students. Looking back, it was what passed as a gifted program, but it was the 80s and pretty progressive for the times. There were about a dozen of us or so, and for the most part we were in the same classes until we graduated. I say for the most part because I hit the mathematics wall in sixth grade and only remained in advanced classes for language arts. Damn you, fractions!
But I digress. As usual.
These were no ordinary pull-out classes. One year we did an in-depth study of advertising. To this day I subconsciously recognize how advertisers try to manipulate me into purchasing their wares, and I’m pretty immune. Except Apple products. Then I want to go lick the electronics and tell them I’d do anything for them. Anything.
The second year was an in-depth study of law. Yes, in fifth grade, not kidding. We studied famous cases, wrote case studies (seriously, I’m not kidding), and after a field trip to observe court proceedings, did a complete mock trial. In many ways I’m still recovering from that experience. I was playing two different witnesses for the trial, and being cross-examined by strong-willed and exceedingly talented lawyer-in-training friends left a mark.
This is all a long way to mention that I survived jury duty yesterday.
Fourteen years I’ve lived in this state, and four (FOUR!!) weeks before I move away my number comes up. The irony is not lost on me. So I hauled butt up to the district courthouse, nearly an hour away, and mentally prepared myself for the tedium of sitting in a room for an entire summer day. I’d heard stories about sitting around, you never get called, you go home. So I was ready. I had reading material, a fully charged iPhone AND charging cords, work to do, and mental preparedness. Um, the stories I’d heard? Were from happy jury duty land.
Signed in, watched a video on what to expect from jury service, learned I was suddenly juror number four, and marched into the courtroom. There was no waiting around being bored. There was sitting in the jury box being questioned. For roughly five hours. And because I was juror number four and I had no reasonable reason to be excused, my chances of being dismissed were slim to none. Oh, how I envied the other 50 or so possible jurors sitting out in the audience.
I have no problem being called for jury duty; the timing on this was just bad. Plus, I have enough stress in my life without ruling on a criminal domestic violence case. Don’t need those nightmares. Selfish? Perhaps.
Once the lawyers finished questioning us, replacing some, questioning them, replacing more, questioning them (this is where it gets mind-numbingly boring…and you can’t mentally check out) and finally getting their paperwork in order, they had to bring the 25 possible jurors in the jury box down to 13. They each got six to toss without needing to give a reason. After a morning of mentally preparing myself to write off the week and have to see disturbing images to make a judgment, hearing Juror number Four, you may leave just about had me doing handsprings out of the courtroom.
My fifth grade law experience served me well. I was quite familiar with the defense attorney’s personality, having grown up with many young men like him, as well as being interrogated by them during that mock trial. I also had the joy of taking his question and through a very honest answer, derailing his point and having the judge call for counsel to his bench. Heh. By being very heartfelt and honest with my answers to the prosecution, as well as making the defense attorney look like a horse’s ass, I was the first juror the defense tossed.
You just never know how an interesting educational experience will affect someone’s life some thirty-odd years later.