It’s a safe assumption that most people:
- Do not like getting root canal procedures
- Hate doing their taxes
- Will do almost anything to avoid jury duty
I might be odd. I mean, I abhor the dental and the tax things, but I actually appreciate being on a jury. I feel like I’m helping make our government flow. For me, the obstacle is that, being self-employed, every minute I’m helping the justice system do its work; I’m not getting paid for mine.
Since, during the selection process, the judge announces this trial will only last one day, I raise no objection and am seated as “Juror Number Three.” Prior to finalizing the jury, an attorney approaches his Honor, engaging him in a “sidebar.” He then turns and addresses the dozen of us.
“I’ve been informed that this trial will last a little longer than expected; probably two or three days, taking us into early next week. Aside from financial hardship, does that present a problem for any of you chosen to serve?”
I raise my hand.
The judge looks at his papers, correlates “Juror Number Three” with my name and address me, “Is it Mister Marcus?”
“I see you’re self employed. This isn’t about financial hardship, is it?”
“It is not.”
“What seems to be the issue?”
“I’m leaving town early next week. The trial would interfere with that.”
Glancing at his forms, “You’re a speaker? Are you speaking to a group somewhere?”
“Oh, is this a business or personal trip?”
“Personal, your honor.”
After again surveying the document with my individual basics, he returns his gaze to me, “Is this something you have to do for your kids?”
“No sir, just my wife and I. We’re renting a cabin up the coast for a few days.”
“Hmmm… I see,” he says, “Is it your anniversary? What’s the occasion?”
Technically, there wasn’t “an occasion,” we just wanted to get out of Dodge.
But I was worried our desire for a few nights without responsibilities didn’t seem like a reason for the judge to grind even slower the wheels of justice. I considered making something up, but could I get busted for perjury? I’m no lawyer and I’ll own up to being overly cautious, but it didn’t seem worth the risk.
“Well, none your honor. We’ve just been busy and thought it would be nice to get away.”
He considered my reply for a moment and then lowered his glasses to look at me over the top of the rim.
“So, let me understand. It’s not a business trip and you don’t have to take your kids anywhere. It’s just you and your wife, alone, no special occasion, wanting a few days together in a cabin for a brief getaway?”
“Yes, your honor.” It seemed like our getaway was getting up and going.
“So it’s just a romantic mini-vacation, right?” he added.
“That’s what we were hoping.” I replied, somewhat crestfallen, seeing the writing on the walls.
“Well, heck, I’m a ‘guy’ too. I can relate.” Turning to the attorneys, he queried, “We can replace Mister Marcus as Juror Number Three, can’t we?”
Returning to me, he waived his hand, “Dismissed for cause – good cause. Get the heck out of here, will you? And have a great time. Let it never be said that the court stood in the way of romance.”
As I left the box, he addressed the eleven remaining, “So, short of financial hardship – and romantic getaways,” he smiled at me. “Does anyone else have a problem with serving?”