Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tip: State Court Jury Duty and bored? There's Scrabble and Backgammon in the coat closet

I phoned in and listened to the recorded message thinking I hope I don’t really have to be paying attention to any of this. No, such luck. Yes, I know it’s my sacred civic duty so tar and feather me already but one of the last things I wanted to do was to be honored with the privilege of jury duty. We’re self-employed and homeschooling. My husband was going to and would have had to cancel his studio session today in order to stay home with H.o.p. but his brother, who had just moved down from NY Saturday ("The most frightening thing in the world is waking up and realizing I moved to Atlanta") dropped by Sunday evening and offered to babysit. Also, H.o.p. was concerned with mom having to go to a government building. He hears enough about the government that concern is the first response (no, not shame on me, shame on them) upon hearing that mom is going down to a government building. ("It's all right, sweetie." "But President Bush is in the government building." "Not this government building.") The kind of concern that isn’t assuaged when he says, “Don’t go!” and I say but I must and he demands to know why and I tell him the not-so-fine print that the government will hit me with a hefty fine or submit a bench warrant for my arrest if I don’t go, which means a court date regardless. I mean, they make jury duty so inviting in the first place, don’t they? If instead you opened your mail to “Summoning the Honor of Your Presence for coffee and homemade blueberry muffins with prosecution, defense and judge" then I’d feel a bit differently about it, more relaxed, even if the fine-print said the coffee and muffins would be at my own expense. Send me a blue slip that says Summons for State Court Jury Duty 8:15 a.m. Monday or you’re arrested and I get testy.

There’s an old joke as to do you really want to be tried by peers not smart enough to get out of jury duty. My take on it is what’s the privilege of jury duty, fulfilling the right of the accused to a jury by one’s peers, when the accused may simply be one of those not protected by any number of those laws which exempts from libablity anyone who earns more money than the judge. Where’s the justice in a country where we say it is stealing when you take someone’s $75 television but call it profit when you can, for instance, pollute to the point of extinction or pirate the pensions of hundreds of thousands. Where’s the justice when we’ll slap a person in prison who is actually endangering their life with certain select self-prescriptions, but legislate protection for corporations that willfully endanger the lives of thousands. And don’t tell me that a corporation holds the same rights as an individual under the law but is an institution and the owners aren't responsible for its actions and that's the way it has to be "because" (kind of just like politicians aren’t liable for anything that they conveniently can’t recollect telling a subordinate to do). When a car-pooling van makes a traffic violation, we don’t call the situation corporate and absolve the driver of responsibility.

If you want to read more of a way too long post about a fairly boring day in a state that appreciates your participation in justice to the tune of $25 a day, no child-care reimbursement or reimbursement on travel expenses, go here. If you live in Fulton County, GA, you'll at least learn a few helpful things like take the fingernail file out of your bag and throw it away because it's not allowed in the court building.

No comments: