As you may recall, last week I answered the honorable request of my host county (Harris) and was assembled with other dignified citizens for a panel of prospective jurors. I humbly submit the conclusion.
"Panel 13 – to your feet"! The flat-topped-coifed Marine-looking bailiff bellowed! I found this quite impressive, especially since the woman was only about five feet tall. I know I was the first to jump to my feet. She assembled us in formation and I am happy to say that I was obviously the only one of panel 13 with military experience. While the others beboppered along - out of step I might add, I marched ramrod straight, hitting the heel down hard and in step with Sgt. Flattop. It was a proud moment for me and I did not allow myself to be distracted. I was marching for justice! An old boot camp cadence slipped into my conscience and I occupied myself with the comforting words "hup toop treep fo, hup toop treep fo"!
Down, down and down we went into the mildewy Houston tunnel system where we passed thousands of less important people. I was this close to yelling "Out of our way! Potential jurors coming through!" but once again my military training took over and I held my tongue. It was a truly righteous act of self-control and dignified to the "enth degree". The righteous feeling returned and I felt my face redden, as I counted... "hup toop treep fo".
We were escorted into the courtroom and I couldn't help but notice the awe which the court reporter, bailiff and a covey of lawyers exhibited at our grand entrance. "It's the potential jurors!" I heard some nobody whisper. Once again I was humbled and yes, I broke into a grin. It was "our moment" and I could not imagine a better place on earth.
Abruptly we were introduced to the lawyer teams and something called "Voir dire". In American speak, this is the process by which prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases before being invited to sit on a jury.
One of the attorneys looked at our summons cards and addressed my fellow potential juror – the Professor. "Mr. Johnson, how are you this morning"? "Huh? – fine I guess". "Mr. Johnson, what exactly do you do for a living"? "Uh, I drive a port-a-can vacuum truck". ("What tha?" I thought!). "This case also involves a truck driver, Mr. Johnson. Do you think you can be a fair, unbiased and impartial juror"? "Uh, like you mean I can – do what"? "Can you as a juror, give this man a fair trial, even though you also drive a truck"? "Uh, like, uh, yea, I guess". "Thank you – I like this one Judge".
Next, attention was turned to the lady who I had pegged for a NASA astronaut. "Good morning – oops – Good afternoon Ms. Koliganowskioffoven! Did I say that right? What do you do for a living Ma'am"? "Hee hee hee – I am telemarketing instructor for the Billy Mays Television Commercial Institute". "Very good! Ms. Koliganowskioffoven, this case involves a telephone and a possible misuse of said communication device and do you think you can be a fair, unbiased and impartial juror"? "He hee heeeee! Wha"? "Can you, as a juror, give this man a fair trial, even though he might have used a phone for the wrong purposes"? "He hee heeeee! Wha"? "I'll take this one, Judge".
"Mr. Marshall is it? Good morning"! "Good morning counselor, it's a beautiful day". "Mr. Marshall – can I call you Baytown Bert"? I nodded. "Tell us a little about yourself sir"? "I've been a Process Operator for a large Petrochemical Company here on the Gulf Coast for the last 30 years. I also write a weekly column for the Baytown Sun and operate 6 mailing lists and 22 websites. I'm a Vietnam Veteran who was honorably discharged after serving his country. I have been married to the same woman for 30 years and have 2 children who support themselves".
Imagine my confusion as I walked the 14 blocks back to my car.
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