I’ve had jury duty several times but have never served on a jury. The closest I came was a few years ago in Van Nuys. I was herded into the courtroom with probably fifty others and told this was to be a gang related murder trial that would last four weeks. The woman judge asked if there was anyone who wanted out due to hardship. Thirty hands went up. I didn’t bother. “Planned trip to Spring Training” didn’t seem like it would fly.
One by one the alleged hardship cases filed into the judge’s chamber to plead their case and one by one their request was denied. A woman who was 8 1/2 months pregnant was not excused. Several self-employed people were not excused. Alex Trebek, the one celeb in our group, went in to see the judge. He was excused. What the fuck?! Will the nation’s literacy level go down two points if a JEOPARDY taping has to be postponed?
We were then given questionnaires to fill out. Profession, age, was anyone in our family a policeman, was anyone in our family shot be a policeman? That sort of thing.
The attorneys began individually questioning us. The pregnant woman had to use the bathroom in the middle of her session. She was using the bathroom every twenty minutes. Still, she got selected.
Another woman, who was maybe thirty, was asked if she had ever been on a jury before. “Yes” she said. When was it? About a year ago. Was there a verdict in the trial? Yes. What was the trial? A rape case. What was the verdict? She couldn’t remember. COULDN’T REMEMBER?! A woman couldn’t remember the verdict in a rape trial?! She was selected to the jury.
One man said he had been on a jury but only as an alternate. Was there a verdict in the trial? He said no but there sure as hell would have been had he been on the jury. He was excused.
They finally got to me. We were supposed to state our name, hometown residence, and profession. What I wanted to do was say, “Ken Levine, Los Angeles, the host of JEOPARDY” but I didn’t think it was worth going to jail for that joke. My interview was rather short. First question: “Do you have any trouble with people owning guns?” I said yes, I was a writer on MASH and… Before I could finish my thought: “Thank you. You’re excused.”
Unfortunately we can’t ask questions of them. We can’t say, “So is this trial going to be boring as shit or is it something that might be interesting?” “Will there be visuals?” “Can I stop you if I’ve already seen this on LAW & ORDER?” “Is it okay to wear my FREE THE CHICAGO SEVEN T-shirt?” “Can I still get text messages during the trial?” “At any point can I object?”
Anyway, if I ever was going to be on a jury now would be the perfect time – me being on strike and all. I just have to hope the attorney doesn’t ask if I wrote for MASH or reads my blog.