the dog ate my jury summons – I promise!

To say 2022 was an odd year would probably be an understatement.  It started with losing a tooth while fishing, then about 95% of the way through that adventure, the dentist tells me they no longer accept my insurance.  Along came Covid, pink eye, some kind of flu, two heart attacks…and after 60 years on this earth, my first jury summons arrived just before Thanksgiving.  Interesting year to say the least.

Receiving that jury summons after this many years caught me by surprise.  I really thought there was a list somewhere that had my name with an “exclude him” checkmark.  I am not a complete stranger to the law and I didn’t know if something had caused me to be ineligible or at the bottom of the list.  Oh well, simple enough I thought, the instructions seemed clear, so I laid it on the table by the couch.

Well, it was 2022 after all, so I came home from work one day and started walking through some bits of paper on the floor.  Some were larger than others, some were in little wet balls…oh yeah…forgot to mention, we picked up a new puppy last year too.  The pieces were scattered from the table to the kitchen.  Reaching down, picking them up, walking; it took me several good size pieces before it clicked that it was my jury summons.  

The dog had decided this was the day it wanted to get up on the table and chew some random sheet of paper…make it her toy.  How in the hell was I going to explain this?  I hear of people using everything in the book to get out of jury duty, but “the dog ate my summons” felt extremely weak.  

It took about thirty frantic minutes to find enough crumbs to put that much together.  I was finding pieces with words like MUST, Fines, $500, penalty of law, must appear on your date, etc.  I finally found a juror number, who to contact, then a phone number and extension.  

The day I finally got through to them it was a little uncomfortable being laughed at by the person on the other end of the call.  At first, they went silent after saying “dog?”.  In that quiet I heard the hum of government trying to decide if I was for real.  I told them I know it wasn’t like homework…then the laughter…next they told me I could just call the number, and pick up a new copy when I showed up.  And to skip ahead, I showed up on my date…they said they remembered me, laughed again and gave me a new copy.

First day

They brought a bunch of us into a room and explained what was going to happen.  This was followed by questions that could get us excluded!  Felonies – no, student – no, over 65 – no, own my own business with a few employees – no, and on and on.  One kid actually tried to say he was a student, they asked for his schedule; I still do not think he has produced it.  And just like that, day one was over with us losing no more than five people.

The Trial I was chosen for – Day One

The bailiff told us that there was definitely going to be a trial and we would be moving upstairs after they validated that we were all there.  They took roll, my name was first on the list; lined us up, and carried us to the next floor.  This put me on a bench in the corner of the courtroom that left me unable to get out by the time everyone was inside.  I hoped that meant they would call the people in reverse order.

Nope.  They called me first again.  

Juror in seat number one, once I finally got out of the seat. 

Thirteen more later, they started to explain the case.  

2022 damn it.  With my past, are you kidding me?!?!  It was a methamphetamine trial with an added felony weapon charge in the commission of that drug felony.  I listened to the details while thinking “well, they are never going to keep an old meth head sitting on this jury” and figured my day would be quick. 

The D.A. asked if anyone knew any policemen, I named the ones I did.  We were asked about how we spent our free time, married or not, where we worked, did we have experience with guns, etc..  

But it wasn’t long before we got to the question I was expecting.  

“Does anyone here have experience with meth?” asked the DA.

I raised my hand.

“Someone in your family?”

“No sir.  I did meth for many years.”  Still thinking this is my way out.

He continued. “Would you like to discuss the details in private?  The judge can give you that right if you feel uncomfortable.”

“Well, no sir.  I am not ashamed of who I am.  I don’t mind if everyone hears about it.”  

Still hopeful this was my card out, I described the 10 plus year period in my life where I did coke, meth or other drugs.  When asked how often I did it, I said anytime I could find it, any time it was possible – I was an addict.  

He ended with “what finally happened?”

“Found something that was more important and grew up.”

He said thank you and defense attorney questioned me more, I was just as open with her.  I could see the other potential jurors watching me, listening.  Definitely will not say I am proud of that time in my life, but I refuse to pretend it wasn’t, isn’t, part of who I am.

Then she shifted the conversation to guns, hobbies and kayak fishing. I assumed they were sizing me up.

Now I am no lawyer, but I would NEVER let me be on that jury.  I had knowledge about the drug in question, the personality of those who use it; hell, I had lived it. NEVER.  I would assume that this guy was going to be on the defendant’s side.  It was a shock that I sat in chair number one for the rest of the day as almost every other prospective juror was dismissed and replaced with others.  I could not believe that I was on the jury.

Well, that took almost all day.  There was a few questions for a cop late in the day who, in my expert opinion, fumbled some things; but my experience was not from his side.

The Trial Day two

The trial started in earnest.  I heard the DA, the main officer and her lawyer misstating so many things about how it is dealt, how much a user would have on hand vs a dealer, how it would be packaged, how much a dose (LOL) was, where the drugs were found, where the gun was found. 

The officer had a lot of technical training and data I could tell, the others did not.  They questioned him, challenged him (I wanted to ask stuff – they were driving me crazy) until just before lunch. 

There had been officers pulling out evidence showing it around, tagging it…showing text messages.  The lawyers played the little games I assume always happen – occasionally making us leave the room to settle arguments, throwing in words to affect our choices that the judge would strike down.

Then… 

Then these folks pulled out over five ounces of meth and held it up.  I assumed this moment was coming too, and I thought I was prepared for it…I was so wrong.  I could literally taste its contents.  I could feel that hunger welling as my mouth watered.  Maybe it was just me, but I felt that the judge caught me squirming in my seat and wringing my hands.  Just like that, I was sitting across from a guy selling crank in an old trailer all over again.  I was shaking to get up and do some lines.  

Anyway…after lunch.  After lunch we came back to the jurors room, all following the instructions, not talking about the trial.  Then we sat for an hour.  

They had come up with a plea deal.  

I do want to say that it was extremely fascinating to see the process.  Even more interesting to me though was how people in those positions do not get more training than they did on drug use and how it really works.  I was shocked at things that had not happened during the investigation that I assumed always did, and quite confused about the lack of preparation.  

And why in the hell they would ever keep someone like me on that trial – I really wish I could ask that one day.  Since I have some time, maybe I will….hmmm…..

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~ by mrcsworld on January 11, 2023.

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