More stupid adventures of Maynard, culminating in a stupid question

This week I was on call for California jury service. The short week has come to an end, and my number did not come up. I am a free man.

I have mixed feelings about the process. On one hand, I acknowledge my obligation to God and country. People have been called to go to war and die on foreign battlefields. Surely it’s not too much to ask me to go downtown and sit on a jury.

On the other hand, as a professional tech guy (that’s what I am!), I compulsively seek to fit the right tool to the right job. Clearly, some people are righter for jury service than others. Some people are more replaceable, or more available. Some people are “people people”, adept at listening to human testimony and sorting it out, and then discussing it. Others are temperamentally suited to work alone on mechanical tasks. Some people work days, some people work nights.

The bureaucracy makes a few petty acknowledgments that not all people are equally suited. I think you can get off if you’re the caretaker of an infirm relative. On the other hand, my veterinarian told me how she was called away to four days of jury service, which she spent in a waiting room while the lawyers argued with the judge, and the whole thing was finally canceled and everyone sent home. She owns her business and is the only resident doctor, so she had to flail for a quick substitute, and as a result the pet hospital was closed for three days. That’s just not right.

If we were of a mind to — and I’m not! — we could now enter into a long discussion of anecdotal horror stories, alternating with recommendations on how not to get picked. Everybody’s got a favorite notion of what to say, how to act, how to dress, and even how to smell. This is all fun and interesting, but I don’t think there’s a single winning formula. (I had a notion of going downtown wearing my tinfoil hat. Upon arrival, I’d sit in the waiting area reading Mein Kampf, giggling loudly.) But realistically, these ideas are more amusing in theory than in practice.

Okay, here’s one for the books. In my web search, I did find this disgruntled letter from a prospective juror.

Apparently you morons didn't understand me the first time. I CANNOT take time off from work. I'm not putting my family's well-being at stake to participate in this crap. I don't believe in our "justice" system and I don't want to have a goddam thing to do with it. Jury duty is a complete waste of my time. I would rather count the wrinkles on my dog's balls than sit on a jury. Get it through your thick skulls. Leave me the F__K alone.

Do not mock Caesar, for Caesar is a jealous god. This guy ended up not only serving, but apologizing to the judge to avoid being held in contempt of court. So, all in all, one must be cautious.

Anyway, as I said, I do recognize my obligations, but there are various reasons — no point in listing details — why I think I’m not the best tool for this job. So I’d just as soon the State pass me by. I requested a reschedule for Thanksgiving week, knowing it was a short week, and speculating that this might improve my odds. Maybe the judges are all on vacation, playing golf or visiting houses of ill repute in Bangkok. By luck or by skill, I wasn’t called. Thank you Jesus!

Upon reflection, I’m left with one question, and perhaps a legally savvy person can address this. Okay, I understand that it’s been pretty clearly established that the government can call us away from our lives to perform this service. But one detail rises up in my mind…

We’ve been talking a lot lately about airport security, and why the Fourth Amendment doesn’t protect you from an obligatory cavity search in which a friendly government agent sticks his arm up your wazoo until his fingers tickle your epiglottis. As I understand it, this is permissible because, in voluntarily entering into the transaction with an airline, you have implicitly agreed to be sodomized. If you don’t like this, then don’t buy the ticket. You may think that’s unreasonable, but you can see the logic.

The Court buildings have similar security measures in effect. “When you enter the courthouse, you will go through a metal detector. Your handbag, briefcase, backpack, and any containers may be X-rayed.”

Now maybe I’m nit-picking here, but it seems to me that I have to submit to a search because I’m entering the building, and the law compels me to enter the building, so I have no choice about entering the building. Ergo, the state government is commanding me, through no fault or voluntary action of my own, to exit my home and submit myself to a search. Why is this, unlike airport security, not a violation of the Fourth Amendment?

I suppose the answer is that you cannot, as a result of this Courthouse search, be charged with a crime. That is to say, the Fourth Amendment protects, not against a compelled search in itself, but only against unreasonable search for the purpose of criminal prosecution. There’s a logic to that. But nevertheless, we’ve got the government randomly pulling us out of our homes and searching us. Can’t say I’m comfortable with that.

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7 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. kcnut says:

    Well i got out jury duty by saying since i closed at work which was 2 a.m. and i had to be there by 11 a.m. i told the judge this that due to lack of sleep i feel that i cannot be fully able to focus during the court case. I was let off.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tammy Bruce, Stanley Blanchard. Stanley Blanchard said: RT @HeyTammyBruce: Maynard Dodges a Bullet #tbrs […]

  3. bluegrassriver says:

    So who do you want sitting on the jury should you somehow happen to find yourself charged with a crime, someone like yourself or some dumbass who’s got all the time in the world and thinks the jury stipend (if they even get one) isn’t bad for half a day’s work?

    I’ve been on a jury once (for 2 days) and aside from the difficulty in staying awake, it really wasn’t a horrible experience.

    Maybe if they organized all this so people knew when they were going to be called, say, the last two weeks of October 3 years from now, it wouldn’t feel like such an interruption to so many people.

  4. varmint says:

    Maynard you are so funny! Laughing like this feels so good.
    When my time comes I’m eager to get in there and punish the guilty bastards.
    The way I see it I AM the law! My vengeful sword is rising…

  5. makeshifty says:

    Here’s another method for you. While the judge is asking you questions say that you believe in judging the law as well as the facts. It’s more intellectual than most people want to put up with, so I imagine most people won’t use it. It’s a favorite among libertarians, since they believe in it (as do I). It’s called the principle of jury nullification. Judges hate that and will promptly find a way to get rid of you, no matter what the actual case involves.

    Re. your story about the veterinarian

    I recall that there are several professions that are exempt from jury duty, and one of them is if you’re a doctor. I think lawyers are included in this (I hear they make “terrible” jurors because they want to question everything). I remember reading some years back the opinion that it’s disturbing that so many educated professionals, capable of deep probing thought, are exempt from jury service. The rationale seems to be that they’re too important to society to be sequestered, or to take time away from their work. Never mind that it’s common for these professionals to go on vacation when you need them most!

  6. hsgripper says:

    I think it’s just a sanity check that you have to go thru once in a while.\

  7. thierry says:

    because they repeatedly got my name as well as address wrong i have managed to avoid jury duty without consequence.

    a couple of years ago they finally nailed me. the state suggests it’s your place of employment’s civic duty to pay you your salary but they are under no legal obligation to do so- so if you’re the only one who can do your job and the only one paying your rent you can end up royally screwed. the average person just can’t afford the burden of ‘ justice’ in so many ways: we are taxed to death to provide for the incarceration of filth who sue once in over every little thing and we’re obliged to pay all their lawyer’s fees . plus if we’re sucked into a long trial as a juror we can end up not being able to feed ourselves. nice. not to mention the potential for one’s life to be threatened by thugs. the only ones who seems to benefit from the judicial system seems to be criminals. it’s definitely not the victims- justice is not served for them.

    it also pissed me off that i work over night but they expected i could work until 4AM then drive an hour away to be in court for something like 7:30AM- they saw no conflict in this.

    first, they had a hissy because i refused to fill out the ‘ race’ section. so first time around i wasn’t even picked to get a number. then when they assigned me months later to come in, there was a Nor’easter and it was cancelled. so for the northern states, the weather in winter is definitely your friend to avoid this mess. appointed government hacks ain’t going out in a snow storm.

    i happen to be one of those nests of hornets neither side would want in a criminal trial because its too hard to pin down where my sympathies may lie: my grandfather was a police detective, along with most off his male relatives back several generations( it’s one of the questions they ask you right out-any law enforcement family members?), my father, however, was a criminal. 2 of my friends were brutally murdered and i myself was the victim of a violent assault that went to trial but i have also been arrested . add fairly draconian ideas about how violent criminals should be punished and it’s just easier to pick someone else for either side. plus being all pissed off about the race issue for reasons they cannot seem to fathom. and overly educated . either side wants people it can lead down their path- they don’t want people who may have too many questions of their own.

    and i thought the only reason people flied- or at least used airport restrooms- was FOR the free sodomy- especially married republican congress men. (and while i’m having a ghey moment: there’s a very funny episode of “Designing Women” where Julia is dragged into jury duty and finds herself surrounded with fellow jurors who are enjoying the hotel stay and the free food so refuse to come to a verdict.very very funny. julia was my hero in the late 80s.)

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