Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Number Nine

If you read yesterday's post then you'll know that I had to go back to the courthouse on Tuesday. There we discovered that those who hadn't been called on Monday were sent home. Their time as a juror was complete, see you in three years. Maybe.

Those of us who were left stood to and listened as another list of numbers were read off. These folks were to stay seated and stand by, those whose numbers were not called had to go out in the hallway and form a column of twos. It amazes me how some civilians cannot follow simple directions.

There were people by themselves, then three across, then another single...

The Master Sergeant in me wanted to scream and start herding the miscreants into a proper semblance of order and discipline. Didn't need to though as the sheriff quickly took charge and got the herd of cats into something resembling a column of twos.

Those left behind in the lounge? They were sent home. Their time as a juror was complete, see you in three years. Maybe.

Once again I had made the cut. Part of me was "yes," another part was "what are the odds?" So a part of me wanted to be on a jury, another part wanted to be done with it, thank you for playing, see you in three.

But it was not to be.


The herd column of twos straggled to one of the many courtrooms in the building. Once there we were again instructed by a judge what the rules were and what we had to do, etc., etc. After seeing the cluster fire truck in the hallway I figured that we would be hearing the "rules" speech a lot.

Once that was done it was lottery time. The court clerk had this wooden barrel on his desk which he would spin and then call out the number of the lucky winner. That person, unless "sidebarred" would take a seat in the actual jury box.

Now once the number was called, the two teams of attorneys would go through their notes and, based on those questionnaires we filled out on Monday, ask the judge for a sidebar if they saw something which gave them pause. A private meeting off to the side with just the legal beagles, the court reporter, the judge, and the potential juror present. Sometimes the potential juror got to take their seat in the penalty jury box, other times they were sent off. Nice try, see you in three years. Maybe.

After sitting through quite a number of call ups, sidebars, and damn few "take your seat in the jury box" events. My number was called. I barked out "Here" in my best military fashion and stood up.

I waited as I knew that I would get sidebarred for any number of reasons. First off I was brutally honest on the questionnaire which gave both the prosecutors and defense attorneys something approaching the willies I guess.

Indeed, the lead defense attorney announced "Sidebar Your Honor!" So we all pulled pitch and headed for the sidebar. Here's how the first bit went, according to my best recollection...

Defense Attorney, Mr M: "Now on question 28..."

Your Humble Scribe: You'll have to refresh my memory Counselor as..."

Her Honor, The Judge Presiding: "What? You didn't memorize the questions?" - said with a big grin on her face.

YHS: "Why no Your Honor, I haven't had time yet."
Lead Prosecutor, Ms. D: "Haven't memorized the questions? Oh dear."

By this point, the court reporter, the judge, all four attorneys, and Yours Truly are all having a good laugh thanks to my irrepressible wit (some might call it puckish smart-assery) while the rest of the court sits in puzzled silence. But we got on with it, I mentioned that I had answered all of the questions with brutal honesty, expressing some doubt at being able to remain dispassionate depending on the testimony given, and my experience as a bailiff back in the latter years of the 20th century.

I also assured those assembled that many years ago I had sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution of this fair land and that I held that oath to still be in effect and to remain in effect until the day I join the "choir invisible." (Though I doubt they'd actually let me sing. Voice like wind through a rusty drain pipe, that's me.)

Without actually reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and pulling Old Glory to my bosom and such, I convinced those assembled that I could be fair and consider the evidence to both the State's and the Defendant's satisfaction.

I then took my seat. Number Nine to be precise. Nine of Fourteen in Borg style reckoning.

There were more questions to be answered once a group of fourteen had been selected (12 primary jurors, 2 alternates for those keeping score at home). First the prosecutor stepped up and, wouldn't you know it, addressed me first...

Ms D: "Juror number X, you'll recall what we discussed during the sidebar?"

YHS: "Ah Counselor, we discussed many things..."

Laughs all around the court, I tell ya, I was rocking that place...

 "But yes, I remember what was discussed."

After many assurances of my ability to be (unlike Fox News) fair and balanced, the attorneys moved on to savage question the others in the box. The prosecutor and the defense both got a shot. Then two were sent off, see you in three, etc, barrel is rolled, new number is picked, questioning begins anew.

A couple of people were let off because they had actual vacation plans scheduled for next week. The judge let them slide, which I thought damned decent of her. Then there were a couple of peremptory challenges by both teams of legal beagles. They have a certain number of "let that one go, don't have to explain" challenges. Which they exercised to a certain extent.

Then the prosecution said that the State was satisfied with the panel. Which of course sent the defense team into a quick strategy conference. So, of course, they issued a couple of challenges. Three more people were sent off, more sidebars occurred until finally, both sides were satisfied with the panel.

So by three of the clock we had a jury, fourteen fine upstanding American citizens, all of whom, in talking with them, seemed to be reasonable and smart folks. I daresay were we ordered into the hallway to form a column of twos that it would be done right smartly.

Well, as smartly as civilians can do that kind of thing. But the jury I'm part of seems able to follow instructions and, I can attest, are all able to count to two. I daresay some of them are quite smart, no doubt smarter than Your Humble Scribe, though that latter feat isn't all that difficult. My cats outsmart me from time to time. Of course, cats are pretty smart in their own right.

While I am something of a rocket scientist (no, really) I am not always the quickest on the uptake.

I mean it took me five years to figure out NaCly Dog's call sign.

Think about it.

Anyhoo, the trial will probably last a week and a half and you won't hear anything about it from me. That, of course, is verboten, forbidden, and just not done. I'm not even allowed to talk about it with myself.

I think.

This is going to be an "interesting" week. But from what I can tell, I'm serving with some fine people under a most competent judge. And the sheriffs all seem to have a good sense of humor. So far...

This was not stuck in my head all the way home, though it is now. If you need it, I'll give you the Old AF Sarge's patent remedy for ear worms. Tomorrow.

Yes, I'm cruel like that.

Perhaps you like this better. I know I do.

Yes, I do like Korea, why do you ask?

Now don't get the wrong idea, I respect those ladies for their singing. That's it. After all, I'm old enough to be their 할아버지. (No, seriously...)

Just call me "Number Nine."


  1. Nice post. I've missed being called twice, never actually making it out of the room. Same feeling- don't want to be called, but kinda sorta really want to be called. Maybe I'll write about the time I did make a jury- for the Court Martial of a Navy Chief.

    1. You should, I know I'd be interested in reading that story.

    2. Tuna, I concur with Sarge -sounds like an interesting story.

    3. It's unanimous then.

      Well, two for, zero against. And hey, you kinda sorta volunteered Tuna.

  2. Was called up for jury duty once in CT and once here, in NY. I was active duty in CT and showed up wearing my uniform. Was dismissed outright by the defense team. For the NY call up . . . I brought along a note from my cardiologist and was taken off the roster. That's it for my experience in the jury pool. My wife served on a Grand Jury down in the City once. She found that to be very interesting . . . but the commute was tough.

    1. I've heard that grand jury duty can be interesting. But very long.

      Commuting in and out of New York can't be fun. And I've known people who've done it most of their lives. I reckon one can get used to just about anything though.

  3. The AAR should be interesting on this one... :-)

  4. Good deal. Smart people are good to have on a jury. Every jury I've had for a trial had fully-functioning BS detectors. Contrary to the myth often bandied about the average jury, they took their role seriously and really paid attention, considered the evidence, and made good decisions.

    1. We hope to live up to that fine tradition.

      Odd that they didn't ask if I knew any lawyers...

  5. OAFS:

    Don't feel badly, I took at least as long to figure out his call sign. And I consider myself a smart as... um, strike that, a smart person.

    Paul L. Quandt

  6. Replies
    1. One of Lex's commentariat. A good one too.

  7. Free people sleep soundly at night because rough Staff NCOs are prepared to serve Jury Duty. Great posts, btw, and I very much look forward to whatever you can share about the experience. You might, in fact, if you're not careful, perform a valuable service to future jurors who happen to read your blog.

    Now I hate to ask this, but have you met Hugh Third of Five? Could you get his autograph for me?

    1. Hugh didn't get picked. He seemed like such a nice hive member. Seven of Nine didn't get picked either. Which was a huge disappointment.

      Most people can't handle the truth but hey, you want me on that panel.


  8. Replies
    1. I've got a thing for all girl Korean K-Pop groups.

      (But you're right, that would work very well!)

  9. I got popped by Kern County in 2011.
    I wound up in chair number 1. The State's Attorney and the Defense Attorney had a couple of muted discussions about The Old Retired Petty Officer. Then add jury foreman.....


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