Sunday, December 02, 2007

Harris County Jury Duty – Panel 13!

A few years ago I was invited to be part of the Harris County Court system on Congress Avenue in Houston, as a possible juror candidate! I was obviously (or evidentially) selected for my noticeable integrity, past evidence of sound judgment and proved logic. I still savor the spike of adrenaline (accompanied by a metallic taste in my mouth) I received when I saw the official envelope. Jury duty? Me? Wow! Cool beans!

"They've evidentially heard of me", I shouted to my bride. "I'm among the distinguished," I boasted. I picked up the phone and called my near as the real thing-lawyer brother Bruno. "Well, I've been summoned," I told him "and I'm going to serve – if they will let me"! He coughed a bit and begged off saying he was in the middle of something (much to my chagrin and need for self-important confirmation), but I know how it is and as I hung up I could hear the Simpson's playing in the background.

I felt pretty smug driving into Houston that great and event-filled day and even as I drove up and down close to a hundred different (maybe) streets, looking for the jury building, the feeling of superiority only grew stronger. I didn't mind parking 14 blocks from my destination and cramming a fiver into the money slot of the unattended parking lot – I was on a mission from God, by golly! I was a juror candidate and I felt invincible. I just knew the various bums, hobos, vagabonds and street urchins recognized it too - for I had "the look".

No one was going to mess with me in this big bayou city and I sallied forth from the lot to the jury building with a swagger reminiscent of the old west (or the oil field of Goose Creek and Pelly).

Upon arrival, I was a little bit taken aback by the other characters who filed into the Juror selection room, but my confidence level was hitting triple digits by this time and being an extremely patient man, I hunkered down to await the call to separate myself from this motley bunch of rabble-rousers. The thought crossed my mind (as I settled into a chair with my back to the wall) that it was as if a pirate ship had unloaded in front of the building and if I wasn't a bit of a world traveler and a past scalawag myself, I might have been a tad alarmed in this dubious company. Not to worry though, my time here was fleeting. I was sure of that.

A policeman came in and called us all to attention (I was this close to saluting, but held off, being a man of control and all). In came the judge, all "robed-up", as someone correctly observed) and we took our seats. We were given an official "juror's handbook", which was a one-page sheet of paper with a lot of "if you do this, we will Taser you" wording on in and I chortled with a loud snort (which didn't even get a second look from my neighboring riffraff), because I figured correctly that the sheeple needed a stern warning. "It's how they control them", I thought.

The judge, a portly looking lady of maybe 25 years of age and evidentially a bastion of judicial knowledge, explained in simple language how honored we all were (what tha?) to have answered the summons and we would now be reseated in order, according to our selection number (I have to be honest with you now and say I was a little perturbed at this new development, but being the solid citizen that I am, I obediently stood against the wall to await my new place in the chute).

I bounded into my new temporary seating place with the others of my group and danged if I didn't notice that the 30 or so of us, weren't the cream of the crop after all! Well, let me tell you, I was back in the game! My faith in the system was restored and I looked around and squirmed like a toddler in a toy aisle. "We must be onto something important"! "Let's see", I thought, "doctor, lawyer, chemist, philosopher, professor – she's a NASA astronaut! I'm in sound company"! The bailiff called us panel thirteen – a highly auspicious number and I could feel the open admiration of our fellow pirate-filled panels as they gave us the once over.

"Panel 13 – to your feet"!

(to be continued)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Darn it Bert! When I got to the end I thought "Wait! Where's the rest?? What happened????"

I can't wait for the next part! It's great! :)

TG

Anonymous said...

Bert's write up in the Sunday Baytown Sun (12-2-07) was right on.

Looks like he was victimized by some criminal that already victimized someone else...

TR

Anonymous said...

guess I'll get it when I see the next part

TS

Anonymous said...

leavin' us hangin huh Bert????

SL

Anonymous said...

Bert--loved it--can't wait for pt 2

jury duty can be both fascinating and frustrating--I've done both the local and the grand jury--the fascinating part is listening to the attorneys argue--the frustrating part is being holed up in that tiny little room with the lone dissenter who just won't budge an inch :(

Anonymous said...

to Baytown Bert: I too sat on a jury and wish I could do it over. It was a DUI trial. I am a Tee-totaller, I don't drink at all. The jury was out to hang the guy because he admitted he had had a couple of drinks and was driving, but was not drunk. The state didn't make their case. The only evidence they had led me to believe the guy was not drunk. I was railroaded by 5 other jurors. It was a Friday and getting late. They wanted to find him guilty. I was the sole one holding out. They pressured me into going along with them. I wish now I had held out. Whether he was drunk or not, no one will know, but one thing I do know, the state did not make their case, and in this country you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. I had more than reasonable doubt.
BroDave2

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