The Fascinating Way I Escaped Jury Duty

By: Tory  |  Published: January 17th, 2012   |  Category: career, pema chodron, Rants & Raves, Tory Shulman News

It started off really well, actually. Got up on time. Made some good, strong coffee. Never got lost or disoriented while driving. Arrived early and found the parking to be pleasant and quite organized, as at least two signs and three volunteers led me to my space. I was smiling broadly as I entered the courthouse, located the juror’s room and bought my second cup of joe from the Snack Bar next door. This was going to go so freaking well! Wait, are those Dell computers with free WiFi for jurors to use while waiting? Why yes, yes they are. Don’t mind if I do surf the net!! Amazing. Now, although there were provision walls between each computer, I was definitely entertaining the large group of bored jurors behind me with my intense Ebay bidding war on a a used Zara blazer. It was well worth it–structured shoulders for under 20 bucks!

Then came the orientation. A lovely young man who is clearly aching for Stand Up Comedy stardom, took his microphone and humor to the front of the room and tried his best to pepper the hour long speech with parts of his set.

“Now don’t do what I tried to do and hide in the bathroom the whole time so we can’t find you when we call your name. Cause guess what?! There is a speaker in the bathroom!! Although, interestingly enough, only in the Men’s room! What’s up with that Ladies?”

Mercifully, a large, cement pole prevented this bombing MC from seeing me on my computer so I turned around and determinedly searched “sparkly earrings” on Etsy.

Just as I was about to buy myself some great Allergen Free pillow covers, my name was called to room 40 where I discovered I would be part of a possible jury pool. After being seated in the audience section by the judge, our no-nonsense lady Judge gave us a 15 minute, rather dry speech on the importance of a jury and what a great service we were providing for our community. I tried listening politely, but she was preaching to the choir, the folks that actually showed up, and I was very busy trying to odor-detect if there were a Burger King in the immediate area. Although, my nose caught the faintest of smell of mayo, I concluded there was not.

As the judge finished her rant, she explained the case. A deaf man was suing Carl’s Jr for 4,000.00 dollars because they refused to allow his service dog to enter the establishment. Fuck, now I was paying attention. Carl’s Jr, Deaf Guy, Service Dog? Hell yeah, this was way better than I thought. Then it got even better. “Just FYI,” the judge exclaimed to us, “we do have a service dog in the courtroom presently. Is there anyone who is allergic or particularly fearful of dogs?” Um, your honor, I’m allergic to NOT being around dogs, pick me, pick me, pick me. I was the last name out of 15 called up from the audience to the jury seats and I stared longingly at the adorable service dog as I sat down.

Now we went through a slow process where each potential juror was asked several questions from the Judge. I was literally shaking until she got to me, not just because of the two ridiculously powerful coffees I had downed, but I had such an amazing excuse to get out of this. Ya see, I had just signed up to become an Animal Assisted Therapy dog handler with my handicapped dachshund mix Josie Rose. We would visit several hospitals to lift the mood of the ill patients. And yes, I milked the shit out of this for the judge. “Well Your Honor, my crippled dog and I are dedicating ourselves to the service of others so I have an obviously slight bias towards the Plaintiff.” I felt the beam of appreciation from everyone in the courtroom. Except the Carl’s Jr lawyer who we all know is just evil incarnate.

Speaking of the Devil, the Mike Huckabee look alike lawyer for Carl’s Jr stood up and proceeded to ask us all who in the world we admire as a public figure. What the hell? Who cares? What does this have to do with a disability law suit? Did you want to pick the guy who said “Michael Vick?” Everyone was confused and sort of quiet except for Ron Swanson’s double who proudly shouted “President Reagan” to the shock of all us LA democrats. My favorite answer was the dude next to me with the upturned mustache who answered “Hunter S Thompson” and then proceeded to exclaim he has a bias against all big corporations including Carl’s Jr. and does not even own a bank account due to his intense dislike of big companies. It was a valiant effort to get out of there I thought. I named Pema Chodron, explaining how she was a Buddhist nun, thinking this could only help my hippie, animal loving, ass to get out of here. But then we broke for lunch.

Lunch oy Lunch! Why did you have to be so long?? I was golden and now I would have to wait another hour and a half? I spent lunch gingerly walking through an active construction site, trying to find the Starbucks hidden deep inside the Hard Hat area only section. There was literally saw dust in my sugar free vanilla soy latte. Ew.

Back in Room 40, the first order of business was sidebars with specific jurors. I was first. Oh My God. This was my Angie Harmon moment. I was definitely in Law and Order and I needed to address the court immediately. I was so so so happy I was wearing a blazer that day. I put my hands in my pocket and casually walked over to the bench…the bench!!…and started whispering with the judge and two lawyers. Would I be biased? Could I be fair and not make a decision before the evidence is presented? “Guys,” I said in my best scratchy Sam Waterston impression, “I know the law and I know that the burden of proof lies with the Plaintiff, but I might have subconscious bias towards him and I wanted to be open and honest about it.”

Two seconds later I was excused.

Best part about this day? As I was excused, I picked up my purse and my Starbucks and walked towards the door. I had to pass the Plaintiff and his wonderful service dog and I whispered “Good Luck” to a deaf guy who never heard a word.