Friday, February 19, 2010

Jury Duty

"But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government."

- James Madison, Federalist No. 10

I’m on a jury in County Superior Court, on a civil case involving a dispute between a homeowner, an insurance company, and a construction company. It’s been going all month and yesterday we were told by the judge that the parties estimate they will be done presenting their various cases early in the second week of March. Then the judge has a day or two to give us instructions. Then we can begin deliberation. I am instructed not to discuss the case with anyone, but I don’t think I’m violating that admonition by confessing that I’m tired at the end of the day.

I live barely 2 miles from the courthouse, making it possible for me to go home for our 1.5 hour lunch break. We start at 9 and end at 4:30, so it’s not exactly a long day, and we go 4 days a week at the most. But for a retiree who has given up mental work for gardening, I’m finding the effort of focusing, paying attention, making notes on testimony I think is important, and sitting in a comfortable chair for up to 3 hours at a time is surprisingly hard work. I’m used to staying up late and sleeping til 9:00. This is cramping my lifestyle, giving me less time with my cat on my lap (which is as good as any blood pressure medication you’ve ever had). It’s making me miss important Olympic coverage like curling (kidding: has there ever been a more boring sport?) not to mention The Daily Show, and making me cranky in the mornings. Make that crankier.

It’s also preventing me from blogging, keeping up with e-mail, wasting time surfing the web in search of signs of intelligent life, going to the veggie garden weekly, and generally goofing off. The good news is that at $15 a day, I’ll soon be wealthy beyond my wildest dreams.

I suppose there is also an unintended benefit of “working” again in that it drains my energy to a sufficient degree that I’m too tired to yell back at the hypocritical politicians on the evening news. I don’t have the energy to tell members of Congress to stop acting like ten-year-old boys on an unsupervised school playground and do their damn jobs. (BTW, preventing the other boys from doing their jobs isn’t their job.) Which I suppose is just as well, since my rants never seem to change things anyway. You guys will just have to get health insurance legislation passed without me.


Les said...

Having served on too many juries, I can tell you if I am ever taken to court, I will ask for the judge to rule and skip my right to a jury of my peers. At least here we get $30 per day.

I confess to watching curling. I think it is like golf or bowling in that it does not translate to television well, or maybe it is only fun if you are playing it while drinking large amounts of beer.

Cicero Sings said...

I hope never to be called to jury duty! We live in a small town that is too far from away from any court (by about a 2-2 1/2 hour drive).

As for yelling at the politicians, we've removed the T.V. element far from our eyes (i.e. there isn't one in the house) so as not to get overly aggravated, pop a blood vessel and ruin our own health.

I can stand watching curling but golf on the other hand. No, no, no! Not that we watch any of it mind you but in a restaurant in Vancouver, last time we were down, they had curling on one of those overhead T.V.s and I was actually getting into watching the technique. Okay, maybe I was a bit bored with the immediate surrounds.

chaiselongue said...

It sounds like a long day if you have to concentrate all the time! I hope it all ends fairly quickly so you can get back to the garden, stroking the cat, etc. As for the ranting, like Cicero Sings, I find not having a TV cuts down a lot on that, although there's always the radio if I feel I need something to set me off again!

Haddock said...

That is creativity at its best.

colleen said...

Jury service is definitely hard work (I've done it twice here). It's like being at school. And judges, here at least, have all the qualities of actors but with no entertainment factor.

kate smudges said...

Only $15/day? I'd have to goof off and have fun while sitting through the case. The winter must be getting to me ~ I watched curling for the first time ever. Talk about high drama and excitement. I'm thinking about getting a curling broom so I can learn to sweep just like those curlers do. Gee. I miss ya!

Cicero Sings said...

You won't believe this, but I got my summons today to appear in April for jury selection ... arugh! ... in a town about an hours drive north of us ... I didn't even know it had courts there. And I thought I might be safe. Ha!