Tales from the Jury Room, Day Three

Judge: Madam Foreperson, has the jury reached a decision?
Missy: We have, your honor.

Day three turned out to be my last day of municipal jury duty. We started out in the jury assembly room, and our bailiff arrived to take our party of six down to our own jury deliberation room. The trial, which began yesterday afternoon, recommenced at about 9:30am. It was an assault case involving a man and a woman, with the man being the defendant. We heard yesterday afternoon from the responding police officer, then today heard from the woman, the man, and the woman’s adult son. We took about three recesses throughout the morning for various unknown reasons, but finally heard the closing arguments and were dismissed to deliberate at noon. We decided to take lunch first.

Headed uphill today, up Madison through First Hill. I never realized how damn many hospitals are crammed over in that corner of the city — seemed like every corner was swarming with hospital personnel clad in blue or green scrubs. Found the elusive Diet Rite in cans at the First Hill Bartell Drugs, then I was ready for the afternoon.

We reconvened at 1:30pm to deliberate. Got our instruction packets, handed our cell phones over to the bailiff, and we were off. First, we had to decide on a foreperson for the jury. Everybody hemmed and hawed for the most part, except for the one lady who decisively told us, “there’s no way it’s going to be me.” I, being the bold and forthright person that I am (HA!) offered, “I’ll do it if nobody else wants to.” This was met with a rounding huzzah from my jurymates, and so I was elected. We began to discuss the case, each of us in turn pointing out one of the multitude of inconsistencies between the witnesses’ stories. We ended up calling the bailiff to let her know we’d reached a verdict at 2:10pm, after only 40 minutes. Even so, we probably could have finished up in less than half that, but we got into discussing how nobody’s story meshed, and the case just had “reasonable doubt” written all over it. So we delivered our verdict of “not guilty,” were thanked for our time, and meandered back up to the jury assembly room. After about 5 minutes there, everyone was told that we were not only done for the day, but we weren’t required to be there tomorrow, so our stint as a municipal jury pool was at an end.

Turned in my badge, filled out a quick questionnaire, and I was out of there. Strolled down to the bus stop and only had to wait about 5 minutes for the ol’ Number 2 to roll up. And so here I am again, home again, home again, jiggity-jig!

I tried to describe the details of the case to Scott, and it not only took me a long time, but I think it came out all confusing. The case was just weird; the man’s story didn’t jibe with the woman’s story at all, then the woman’s son (who had observed his mother’s testimony) was called as a last-minute witness and gave a 3rd version of events, that didn’t even agree with what he’d watched his mother say earlier. But at its most basic, the woman and man both sustained very minor injuries, and while the woman admits that she bit the man in three spots, causing his injuries, we couldn’t be certain just how the woman had become injured. Could have been by the man’s hand, could have been by the man’s hand in self defense, or she could have done it to herself as revenge (the man called her his “roommate,” but the woman said they were in “an engaged situation.”) There were just too many questions, and not enough answers.

All in all, my jury experience was pretty darned fun. I got some reading done, got to enjoy a fantastic view (see below), and served my civic duty. And now I can not only check “jury member,” but also “jury foreperson” off the enormous list of Things To Do Before I Die.

Tales from the Jury Room, Day Two

Rolled into the Municipal Justice building to find that the baggage x-ray machine was broken, so all bags were being searched by hand. We all had to wait in a sizeable line, but because I’m habitually early, I still made it to the jury assembly room before our 9am call time. A panel was called almost immediately, but I was not on it. After sitting around for a while, another panel was called at around 11am. Again, not so much with the Missy.

I was sitting across from a truly grotesque woman; not only was she physically unappealing, but she had a huge bag of cherries and was slowly eating them. She would put a whole cherry in her mouth, then smack on it for a while with her mouth open, then pretty much drool the pip out into her hand. The cherries were apparently giving her phlegm issues, because in between EVERY SINGLE ONE, she had to (Harry Potter 5 readers will get this one) hem-hem-hem. Tasty.

I caught a nap from 11 until 11:30 (how awesome is it that they have padded benches in the sun that I can stretch out on?) and then we were dismissed early for lunch. Giving me a full two hours’ lunch break. I made a few calls, then headed down to the waterfront. Six blocks downhill, stopped for a quick burger, then cruised along the waterfront. Turned up at the Harbor Steps, which I had never before climbed. There was a group of campers from the Boys & Girls Club eating their lunch on the steps. As an aside, how is it possible for strangers to serenely smile at children that are being complete hyperactive assmonkeys? I just don’t get it, but people were watching these spastic kids like they were all the second comings. I scowled my displeasure and moved along. Cruised up through the Pike Place Public Market, then back up to Westlake Mall, then back to the MJ building. I got back a half-hour early, so I went out to the huge sunny terrace off the jury assembly room and read in the sun.

Finally, at 2:30pm, I got called for another panel. There were a couple of people there who were also on my first panel, including Limey. However, Limey was dressed in fluorescent coral today. Not quite pink, not quite orange, but a hideous combination of the two. I can’t wait to see what Limey wears tomorrow, because it’s sure to make my eyes hurt.

I made it on a jury, but of course I can’t tell anything about that yet. After leaving for the day, I hoofed it down to 3rd & University and caught the good ol’ #2 home. It was boiling hot downtown and on the bus, but the courtroom was friggin’ freezing. Tomorrow’s outfit will be a challenge; something light, yet layery. Hooray for me and my convincing the lawyers that I’m impartial and stuff!

Tales from the Jury Room, Day One

Got to the Municipal Justice building at around 8:15am this morning. Scott drove me in, which was much quicker than the bus. I realized when he pulled up that this was not the same building in which I served jury duty last August. I passed through security with flying colors and rode the vomit-vator (I don’t do well when I have to travel more than a few floors… you should have seen me going up to the top of the Columbia Tower, 85th floor) up to floor 12. I check in, get my plastic sleeve for my badge, fill out a quick piece of paperwork, then make it past the front desk to the waiting area.

Oh. My. Gods. This place is nice. Comfy chairs, 30-foot ceilings, huge window walls facing the city. The building is at 5th and Cherry, so I could see all the way from the ferry terminal, past the stadiums, up to the art-deco hospital on the hill. Magnificent.

Watched the same intro video as before, but got a new spiel, and discovered that I was now serving Municipal (city) court, instead of Superior (county) court. Significantly different — our jury pool is only about 50 people, versus about 200 at the county building. Plus juries are only 6 people strong, instead of 12. Plus I’m required to be there four days instead of two. That’s right, I’ll be at that same building through Friday.

Sat in a comfy-cozy-loungy chair for a couple of hours, reading Douglas Adams’ Last Chance to See, which is wonderful as always. A group of 15 got called to be the first panel before lunch; I was not among them. Went to lunch in the Bank of America building, then hoofed it over to Uwajimaya to kill some time. At 1:30pm, went back to the MJ building, back through security, but only up to the 11th floor. Apparently due to some fluke, there was a conference scheduled in the jury assembly room, so we all had to go huddle down in one of the courtrooms for an afternoon. Fortunately, I was only there for 10 minutes or so before I got called to be on the second panel of 15.

We went into another courtroom and were numbered 1 through 15. The first six got to sit in the jury box, the rest of us in the “audience” area. I was numbered 14, so I figured my chances of making this jury were slim to none. We were questioned in the <sarcasm>thrilling</sarcasm> voir dire procedure, and they eventually let two of the first six jurors go, replacing them with numbers 7 and 8. The rest of us were excused for the day.

One of the jurors excused was a broad I called “Limey” in my head, because she was wearing a matching sweatsuit of the most horrendous fluorescent lime green. She was bedraggled, with a crusty looking perm of bleached-white hair. And she was wearing those hideous flip-flop-style shoes that make loud snapping noises every time a step is taken. She snap-stepped around the assembly room, then snap-stepped right behind me on the way to lunch, then when I thought I’d lost her at lunch, here she was again, snap-stepping her own foodstuffs two tables away from me. She was wishy-washy, the judge had to tell her to speak up twice, and never gave a good answer to either lawyer’s voir dire. What a shocker that she was excused. For some reason, she was just haunting me today. I wonder what she’ll wear tomorrow.

And so, Missy has not yet had a chance to judge others and find them lacking. But as Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day.

All in the Details

When I was a kid, I didn’t know what “auto detailing” was. Well, I thought I knew, but it turned out later I was wrong.

There was only one business in my neighborhood that advertised “auto detailing.” And their sign had some cheesy airbrushed flames and a hideous lion on it. So I always figured that “detailing” a car meant getting flames or animals or those placid lakeside scenes painted on them. It was only when I was about 20 that I learned that “auto detailing” meant just cleaning the inside of a car. I guess just saying “I need to clean my car” would be construed as needing to clean the outside of the car, though that’s always been “wash the car,” not “clean the car” to me.

Maybe this little tidbit just passed my knowledge base because my dad was supremely anal about keeping both the inside and outside of his cars spotless. So we never had cause to visit a “detailer.” Dad always did a better job himself.