Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The Dumbass Middle
Two days of jury duty brought more reflection than I expected. A room filled with people living in the same time zone and grocery shop alongside one another, provided clues about my perception of the world. Awhile ago I likened life to The Hokey Pokey and this is still my belief with the addition of picking teams. A postcard arriving in the mail demanding a citizen sit for hours in an uncomfortable chair at the beck and call of justice is at the core a lesson in picking sides. Supposedly everyone who votes is in the jurist pool and as my son explains it this is true even if I get called every 2-3 years and the entirety of the populace I polled wonder where the panel is drawn from as they have yet to serve. According to the statistician offspring, it doesn't matter how many times a name goes into a grouping, odds remain the same and yet I never win the Lotto.
The approximately 120 people looked unusually twin-ish. 99 percent were of the same color, white, all similarly dressed, all above the age of doing this or getting a tattoo and by close of day two, each wore an expression of bored irritation. 99.9 percent of the seats had a grown up butt sore from sitting in a crappy chair. A sampling of county humanity "randomly" turned up the Geek Squad. I'm not doubting statistical probability I'm questioning the veracity of county government turning up solely members of Good Guy Team. I'm fairly certain a $100 bill could have been left in the bathroom and not a single person encountering it would have done anything other than turn it into the woman at the desk. Perhaps being in the same location as individuals facing prison time, scared the collection into proper behavior, but the air felt crisply "goodie-goodie". There is only one way the perception of righteousness holds up and that is if there is a Bad Guy. Enter anyone who came to court as a defendant.
"Every person is considered innocent until proven guilty."
This statement was made by a judge giving the low down prior to jury selection.
Is that even possible?
The large group of Rule Followers, nodded and looked as though they listened carefully. Thirty of us moved into court to pass by a defendant. From the door I could see he was not Caucasian and that fear rolled off him in waves.
Should I make eye contact?
What if he thinks I'm a friend?
Will I feel sorry for him?
Better not look at him.
Once seated both attorneys approached the bench. The defendant left the room with his head bowed.
"Ladies and gentlemen you are dismissed. This case will either go to bench determination or settlement. Thank you for serving. Just having you here allows cases to move forward."
How does a middle aged group of Straight and Narrow Walkers move cases forward?
Halfway back to the waiting room, a few members of our tribe began chatting with the bailiff.
"Guess we scared him into taking an offer from the DA."
"Did you see his face? Better think twice about breaking the law around here."
"I wouldn't have wanted to face this jury. Dude was going down man!"
Humans appear to have an incessant need to categorize themselves to differentiate between one another. Rip away skin, strip eye color, remove sexual organs, drain bank accounts, lose the ability to speak and we're goopy blobs trying to survive in a harsh world. Boxes are containers with lids, stifling living breathing spirits from soaring, labeling people into corners. Defining citizens sifts out the chaff and separates humanity. When picking teams for dodgeball it is important to remember whose side one is on. Good Guy? Bad Guy? Or perhaps just some dumbass stuck in the middle.