Just now I have filled out a jury summons for Monday, June 30. I have pinned the summons back on my bulletin board.
The summons says I am to report for a “petit jury.” The word “petit” comes from the French word for “small.” I have never attempted to avoid jury duty but I always wondered if I did, whether I might try the “large” card? In other words, I am almost 6 feet tall. That’s not gigantic when you think of people like a pro basketball player, but it is still above average height.
At some point in time, one summoned for jury duty is asked: “Do you have any reason why that you should be excused from jury duty?
Me: “I do.”
Clerk: “What is the reason you should be excused?”
Me: “Is this the petit jury?:”
Clerk: “Yes sir. It is.”
Me: “Then do you have a jury for one that is ‘petit-plus?'”
Clerk: “I beg your pardon, sir?”
Me: “Well, it is my understanding that the word ‘petit’ comes from the French word for “small.” I mean, I’m not LeBron James, but I am 6-feet-tall and weigh 280 pounds.”
Clerk: “And your point, sir?”
And so it goes. There is little, pardon the pun, potential that a juror may say short of: “Um, I shot the sheriff. But I didn’t shoot the deputy. Oh, and I smoke a little ganja too.”
There you go, off the jury and take a little drink (or a little smoke) and you land in jail.
But why would you not want to make the jury? I say “make” because it seems like the less you would want to serve on a jury, the less chance you have.
I served on one jury in my life. It was a worker’s compensation case. I don’t really remember the details or what verdict we delivered. I just remembered the food. You see, I was unemployed, broke, impoverished. I had no money to buy food or feed my monster Doberman-great Dane. I couldn’t buy gas. I had to hitchhike from the farm house I lived in to town, about 15 miles to the courthouse. I was summoned for two days. The second day there wasn’t a trial as we sat around all day while the parties bargained.
The first day of jury duty, I put on my only suit — three pieces — and walked up the road next to the house to hitchhike to town. A family in my minivan gave me a ride and a guy from the jury who lived on down the road gave me a ride home. Not much trouble hitchhiking when you wear a three-piece suit. I mean, maybe it should be. Let’s say if you were a mobile killer. Oh well, I brought home some scraps from dinner for the dog.
The second day, I don’t remember. I do remember both days we had doughnuts and coffee for breakfast. Man, those doughnuts rocked. We had dinner that evening because we were deliberating. It was from Shepherd’s Restaurant, it used to be a great downtown restaurant. It was also where the inmates had their food made. I suppose that’s why the place had such a recidivism rate back then. Just kidding.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the courtroom. Most of it as a journalist. I miss it, come to think of it. I don’t miss sitting all day, waiting for this or that. But I miss the drama. I miss reporting and writing on interesting tales. Like I’ve said, I’ve only been on one jury, but I’d be happy to do it again. It’s a great responsibility we are afforded in our country to assist the judging of our peers. Plus, you can always likely find a doughnut and a hot cup of coffee. There’s a lot to be said for that.