Monday, November 28, 2016

Juror 21

Last week I had jury duty. I had to report to the courthouse Monday at 7:45 AM.

I allotted plenty of time to maneuver downtown Los Angeles to get to the right parking structure, park the car, buy coffee and a donut, and make it to the courthouse in time, and I did. The only problem was forty-five minutes into Jury orientation I realized I was at the wrong courthouse.

I don’t know what made me look at my summons, but I’m sure glad I did. I jumped up like my ass was on fire and yelled “wrong courthouse! wrong courthouse!”

Luckily, the two courthouses were only a few blocks apart, and I ran all the way to the criminal courthouse. Out of breath and dizzy from an adrenaline high, I made it to the new juror room. Phew!

No sooner did I get acclimated in the new room, the first set of jurors were called for a case, and that included me. We all headed to Courtroom 129.

Once inside the courtroom, I noticed the defendants sitting with their lawyers. I immediately imagined what crime they might have committed. I thought murder, rape, terrorism, shoplifting, jaywalking, pickpocketing, and urinating in public. I was wrong on all counts.

The defendants were being charged with eight criminal counts including abduction, torture, assault, robbery, and car stealing. Wow.

I was no longer Michael. My courthouse identity was now Juror 21.

The District Attorney and lawyers asked us all sorts of questions. When my turn came, I decided I would only tell the truth, my truth, and if the God-of-Jurors deemed it necessary for me to be on the jury then so be it.

I confess that I became completely fascinated by the process and wanted to be part of it. I fantasized being the Jury Foreman (of course).

I convinced myself I had “aced” the Q&A portion of jury selection and would be on the final jury. I mean, who wouldn’t want me on their jury, right?

After our lunch break, the Judge announced decisions were made. He faced us, the potential jurors… ooh the excitement… then he dismissed Juror 5… then he dismissed Juror 12… then he looked at me… we made juror to judge eye contact… I felt a special legal connection… and then he said Juror 21 was dismissed.


I politely gathered my backpack and left Courtroom 129. While the other dismissed jurors did the “happy dance” in the hallway I thought, wait a damn minute, why didn’t they want me?

Did they think I wasn’t “jury quality” or “jury-able”?

How dare they judge me when all I wanted to do was judge them and decide a criminal’s fate.

My jury foreman fantasy was convicted without a trial.

Now they’ll never know if I would I have voted guilty or not guilty.

And I’ll never tell… untiI I get a book deal.

I’ll call my book Juror 21: The True Courtroom Story.


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