Thursday, July 05, 2007

What's your excuse?

I have been long away from this blog, and have plenty of excuses handy. We've been hosting our two favorite ten year olds for a couple of weeks - our annual auntie stint. We took them down to Santa Monica for a wild weekend on the beach - lots of jumping in the waves and trips out on the pier for carnaval rides and arcades. Of course we are also getting ready for the kitchen remodel, which means trips to the cabinet designer and the counter top maker and so forth, and packing up boxes of stuff when we have a chance.

We've had a scorching heat wave this week - as I type, it's over 95 and the sun is going down. For the 4th, we went to the company picnic and the boys enjoyed swimming in the pond and throwing mud at each other. We had to force them to walk over to the fireworks, but once there, we all enjoyed the spectacular display. We have fireworks in our neighborhood (at the fairgrounds) every night for a week before the 4th, so we were glad to finally have a chance to get over there and see them, instead of just hearing the ricocheted sounds of them firing behind the trees.

But I was thinking a lot about excuses today, because I had been called for jury duty. The jury room monitor AND the judge gave us a speech about not trying to shirk our duty, especially this week of the birth of the USA - because the country's founders used the lack of a jury trial as proof of injustice enough to fuel the revolution of 1776. The right to a jury trial is mentioned in the constitution and two articles in the bill of rights. The judge also mentioned that all of the signers of the declaration of independance went bankrupt eventually, because of their support of the cause. I don't know if this is true or not. He also said that voir-dire means "to speak the truth", which was not true in any of my French classes.

The line to ask for a "hardship excuse" was interminable. I did not join it. I have tried that route in the past, and it never has worked for me. About half of those in the hardship line were sent back to their seats to await the call. The only hardships that he was considering was extreme financial difficulty or a medical test that you couldn't reschedule.

However, once we got further along in the (very boring and repetitive) process, the attorneys starting excusing potential jurors for no excuse at all. I mean, I understand why the attorney got let go, but why let go the 60ish school teacher? Sure, let the recent Phillapina who spoke little English go, but why excuse the woman from San Rafael who hadn't said anything about prior jury experience or knowledge of someone who had been in a crime or a policeman or anything?

Anyway, I was NOT excused, and I fit that description exactly. Someone else got excused, but I am a juror for a trial that starts tomorrow.

Well, it's not a hardship, as my company will pay me. The judge says it should only last a week. The hours are pretty cushy compared with my commute plus regular work hours. The court opens at 9:30 and they let you go at 4:30. And there is a 1-1/2 hour-long lunch break - or at least there was today! The courthouse is right down the street, so there is virtually no commute. I might even get home each night in time to finish packing up the kitchen.

In fact, I'd better do some of that right now. I have no excuse.

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