I have been selected (nice way of saying shanghaied) to be an alternate on a civil jury trial in San Francisco. The crazy thing is that this “trial” is that it will last something like 4 weeks. I’m not gonna go into the details on the site until afterward, but I will be spilling my guts about the day to day shite just to amuse myself.
You know the trial is going to suck when you walk into the courtroom and see not 2, not 3, not 4, but 8 lawyers set out in the courtroom for the trial that you are being herded into. 8 lawyers? WTF! Is this a tobacco trial or something? The other thing that makes you want to run for the hills, is that there are like 60 people waiting to be called on to be jurors. This is a bad sign because they know they will have to run through lots of people before they can trick some poor bastards to stick around for this shame. (Think of carnies marking people with chalk as they walk into the fair. Wait that is an insult to carnies)
Come on down
Getting your name called in a courtroom is exactly the opposite of getting your names called on “The Price is Right”. On the Price is Right they call your name and people react like someone just gave them a bar of gold. People around them are jumping in joy, high fiving, hugging, kissing. Your life has somehow been improved. When your name is called in a courtroom for jury duty its like someone is calling your name to step up to the gallows. I have never seen peoples expressions change so fast. Everybody looks away as if there stares of blank terror are somehow infectious. Which of course they may be. The seas of people part and you become part of the lepar colony that is the jury pool.
Voir Dire mon beau crayon
Voir Dire is a french term that means to tell the truth or to give a true verdict. It is also the term the courtroom uses when the lawyers are trying to weed people of the jury pool. In this case, “True Verdict” is so far from the truth it is almost laughable. The jurors will say just about anything to not be part of the jury. Well most anyway. Some have nothing better to do with their time I guess.
If your trial is about soap, people will be coming out of the woodwork to say how they are “against soap” in all of its forms. How they were beatin as a child with a bar of soap everyday. If you trial is about Chapstick, you can bet every person you ask will have some long drawn out story about how they don’t like Chapstick and their not sure if they could be impartial. I found myself bring up every possible instance of something that could possible disqualify me “Yes, sir I did in fact touch a lunar rocket once in a museum, so you can see how I might not be able to serve on this jury involving NASA flavored potato chips!”.
The problem is that most of us won’t go the extra step and just be outright crazy. Nobody wants to be on the jury but they don’t want to look like a crazy in order to get off. I’m pretty sure if I pour my coffee over my head, dropped my pants and started chanting out loud to the god of Chapstick, I would be off that jury faster than you could say Voir Dire.
2, 4 or more sides to the story.
Since the trial is long they gave what they call a “mini opening”. The mini opening a quick 10 minutes speak by all the parties to give you an idea about the case. After they have suckered you in you get the full 30 minute opening from each side usually starting with the lawyer introducing themselves and their law firm. They constantly talk about how their are lots of sides to the story. What they dont tell you is that this one has more sides than D&D dice.