Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'm Not Worthy!

Today was my 4th call to Jury Duty. Two have been settled before
the trial, and the one on Halloween I was finally excused from due
to surgery. You know, the surgery where I woke up in the middle
of it. So it was really my first time being called in for jury selection.

One lady had been called 8 times and selected 3. Man! Get away
from me, lady. You are bad luck! There were supposed to be 60
of us. I think about 40 of us showed up as instructed, by 8:30 a.m.
What a great day to walk 3 blocks to the courthouse. Temperature
34 degrees, winds 30 mph. I had a lovely head full of staticky helmet
hair when I got to the courtroom. One guy looked like he had just
come in from slopping the hogs. He was on the other side of the
room. I sat by a whiney, cranky teacher. Go figure. My number
was 54. WooHoo! They started with 1!

The case was Eminent Domain. Actually, it was a Condemnation
case. The land had already been purchased by the Missouri Dept.
of Transportation, and the jury was needed to determine fair market
value. The defendant was a widow, late 60s or early 70s, who had
to sell the state 9 acres for a new outer road project. I won't say
her name, but it is the same as a kind of deer sausage that is very
popular around these parts. The amount of money in question was
$900,000. That's a lot of sausage! I don't know if she's related to
the sausage family, as they are better-known in a neighboring
county. Her son is a veterinarian. His office had to be relocated.
That's not part of the case, but it came up in the jury selection

This was really sort of an interesting experience. We didn't even
start until 9:00 a.m. The judge told us this kind of case goes
backwards, that the defendant goes first. She had a slick city
lawyer, all the way from St. Louis. I took this to mean that she
meant business. He was 60-something, in a fine, tailored, blue
suit. He took forever. He Eddie-Haskelled us, telling us it was
too bad that we had to get out on such a cold morning, but that
we were United States citizens, it was our duty to our country,
we have the finest court system in the world, rah, rah, blah, blah
blah. I'm surprised he didn't have a flag-waver, a drummer, and
a bandaged-headed flute player tooting "Yankee Doodle" march
through the courtroom.

Mr. Fancy-Pants started out by stating that his client was a "widow-
woman" who wanted fair value for her property. That was a strike
against him, in my book. He also made a "mistake" of saying the
other lawyer represented the Missouri Dept. of Revenue. That guy
said, "Hey! That's not right." The judge also corrected FP on that.
Hmm...he was a crafty old dude, pretending it was an accident. The
other lawyer said, "I want no part of that. That's another department
entirely." We had to disclose whether our immediate family had
an experience with Eminent Domain. So I had to raise my hand to
explain that the Mo. Dept. of Transportation took 4 acres of my
Hillbilly Mama and Daddy's land, and my dad was bitter about it
for the rest of his life, feeling like he didn't get fair value for it.
Guess who's not getting picked for the jury. Hey! We had to
disclose this stuff. One guy went a little overboard. His great great
grandpa had his farm divided by a road project. Mr. FP said,
"And how did this affect you?" The guy said, "Well, I wasn't even
born yet." I wanted to put a "note to self" sticker on him with the
definition of immediate family. Another guy said he gave land to
the county for more right of way to put in a blacktop road. Mr. FP
asked if he felt he should have been paid for the land. "No. They
put a blacktop road right in front of my house. I was tired of that
gravel." Guess who else is not getting picked for the jury. After
about an hour, Mr. FP was finally done.

The State lawyer reminded me of Columbo. His suit was ill-fitting,
with wide early-70s lapels. Like Captain Kangaroo's jacket, but
no white piping. His hair was dishevelled, and appeared to be a
die job. (OK, so was mine. I'll quit throwing stones.) Might I be
so bold as to recommend Medium Brown, Mr. Columbo, since
it would suit your skin tone better than the Dark Brown? Columbo
started out saying that he used to work out of the Fenton office,
but had transferred to Sikeston. Crafty. He showed that he was
a sophisticated city guy, yet also a country guy. He knew his stuff.
When a potential juror spoke, he not only called them by name
after looking on his program (as Mr. FP had done), but he also
mentioned something about their line of work. It seemed like he
had done his homework in studying up on who could best help
his case. He standup-comedianed us. He asked if anyone knew
the defendant's son, the vet. About 20 people raised hands. He
said, "I want to point out that no bunnies or puppies were harmed
when we moved his office. Even though it is not a part of this case,
I want to make sure you know that." He asked a woman, "You
like your horse, don't you? Do you like it so much that it will
influence your opinion in this case?" Of course she said no.

By 10:20, the judge and lawyers went to chambers to select the
jury, so we had a 20-minute recess. Whiney McWhinerson asked
the woman bailiff why our tax dollars couldn't buy cushions for
the wooden pews that we sat on in the courtroom. Bailiff said,
"That would be fine if all we had were jury trials, but Fridays are
law days. The bad check people come in, and that crowd would
rip them up the first day. You should see some of the things they
carve on the seats." Hmm...welcome to my world, Ms.Bailiff.

They picked the jury. The last one was number thirty-something.
I was not too sad not to be picked. I think I could have been fair.
Both sides had several witnesses, and many charts, and a VCR
had been brought in. I figure Mr. FP would have a fancy-schmancy
real estate agent quote city prices, and Columbo would have a
local real estate agent quote local prices. Though I was on the
"widow-woman's" side, I thought her lawyer was condescending
and playing dumb for us country bumpkins. I felt sorry for Columbo
at first, because I have worked for the State of Missouri. I knew
he was on a fixed pay schedule, and I thought only a loser must
want to be a lawyer for the State, and not rake in the big bucks.
But he seemed smarter than he looked, so I think it that was his act.
And I am a sucker for standup comedians. Yes, with all things
considered, I could have been fair.

I was out of the courtroom by 11:10. Oh, poor pitiful me. I wasn't
chosen. I had the day off from work. Is anyone shedding a little
tear for me? I didn't think so.

When I got home, I had a postcard telling me to report for jury
duty on December 13 and 14.


Blogger deadpanann said...

Who did you piss off!?? How many times could you possibly be RANDOMLY selected for jury duty! It seems like they do come in spurts, though. My mother was called 3 times in a span of a couple of months, but I'm not sure if the 3rd one counted because it was a federal case. One time she was called for a murder case--a teenager shot his parents' brains out. She didn't get picked because she started crying when the defendant came in, "because he just looked so young." I've been registered to vote for 9 years and have only been called one time, and the case got settled or something so I didn't even get to tell the lawyers why they shouldn't pick me.

I secretly want to be picked.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Hi Hillbilly Mom,
THis is what you get for trying to be a good teacher. You should become a real bitch in class, then things might change.
Oh, sorry, I'm sure you have that down pat already, I guess they just like you.

PS: Ok, so really I had nothing to say about this post, it is just you are use to seeing me type something.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

Miss Ann,
Apparently, they were not happy that I had surgery on a day they wanted to NOT pick me for a jury.

A day without a comment from Rebecca is like a day without a Sonic Cherry Diet Coke.

8:54 PM  
Blogger L said...

There must not be a lot of registered voters in your county!

I got called once, and I had to use my student exemption. I wanted to serve too!

12:36 AM  
Blogger MrsCoach2U said...

I've never been picked for jury duty. They've probably seen me at a sporting event and realized I can't keep my mouth shut for 20 seconds!

9:32 AM  
Blogger Chickadee said...

OMG good grief! I can't believe how many times you have to report for Jury Duty!

I have an acquaintance who told me that she throws her jury summons away. If she doesn't have to sign anything as proof that she received that summons, the thing gets chucked into the trashcan. Her defense is is that it must have gotten lost in the mail.

Not that I'm telling you to do that or anything. LOL.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

There were 240 of us at the orientation meeting. They split that into A and B pools. Then they must have divided each pool in half. It is a 4-month term, from Sept.6 to Jan.6. They already have a case scheduled for Jan. 5. Hope they don't schedule any for my Christmas break!

This is my first time (yeah, I say that a lot) and I am really old. I don't know how I've avoided it for so long.

I would be the one to get caught for skipping jury duty. Then they would make an example of me. That's how my life goes.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Hi Hillbilly Mom,
Are you trying to tell me I am sickly sweet, but very cool?

8:03 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

Sometimes you're enjoyable. Other times, you're a watered-down version of your former self. Sometimes you've lost your fizz, and you're flat. But I'll never throw you out, I'll just complain about you and hope you're better the next day.

10:30 PM  

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