Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

To tell the truth

Here's something I did not know.  That old courtroom symbol, the venerable gavel, has gone the way of the dodo bird.  Our judge, although very judicial  in his black robe, does not bang a gavel.  His Honor looks and sounds like James Earl Jones.  On Monday morning his deputy precedes him into the courtroom and says all rise and we all rise, and then she instructs us to be seated and we all sit.  Some legal maxims get tossed out and then off we go; but no gavel.  He has three computer screens and one or two electronic gadgets and an iPad in front of him and there must not be room for a gavel, or else it's so last century.  And you no longer have to solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. These days, the plain old truth will do.

We're in our third week of testimony and have perhaps three weeks to go.  The wheels of justice grind slowly here in the big tomato. The prosecution has called their last witness and now we finally get to hear from the defendants and their witnesses.  Some are more interesting than others, and though at this time it is not a federal crime to be tiresome, the jury can't help but think it ought to be.

It's not like television.  Well, parts of it are--both the prosecution and the defense look like central casting assembled them--but the case itself is rather dull.  Important, absolutely, but dull nonetheless. The other thing that's dull is my hotel room.  Today it rained and rather than explore the waterfront for a charming restaurant I waded over to Denny's next door, inspiring me to plan some provisions for my little hotel room fridge.  I also plan to remember to pack more than one pair of pants--I had to wear my jeans which is not forbidden but it IS federal court and I feel compelled to dress better than a trip to WinCo.  And speaking of Winco these last few weeks have been a little hard on my resolve to eat better, without much relief in sight.  I dream of chocolate to soothe my anxiety.  Oh, WinCo--you don't care what I wear, do you?

Any of you have jury stories to tell?

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6-29-11 Breaking news:  Today, after several mysterious delays, His Honor explained that they had all agreed on a number of issues and that next Tuesday would be closing arguments and then jury instruction. We will then begin deliberating.  Although good news in the general sense, I personally am dismayed that I won't get any more information upon which to base my decisions.  I was really looking forward to having half the testimony come from the defense, rather than about ten percent. Two of the doctors have not spoken a single word--not even "I swear on my babies' heads that I am innocent of all charges".   Can't they come up with anything to make themselves look less guilty (Like, not sporting that criminally ugly black-and-white patterned leisure jacket--are you listening, Dr. P? )  That fact alone makes me feel much less charitable. I get the whole "reasonable doubt" rule--but if they were trying to send ME to federal prison you can bet I'd be arguing until they hit me with a hammer to shut me up.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

So help you God

What am I doing with my summer vacation?  I am a juror in a Federal Court case.  The big leagues.  How, you may understandably wonder, did I earn such a prestigious honor?  Easy: I registered to vote when I was eighteen.  If you also registered to vote, you too could receive a summons to serve in U.S. District Court.  For me, this means traveling to Sacramento three days a week for a few more weeks and then, when we begin deliberations, five days a week.  I hope we can come to a verdict quickly because I suspect that five days a week of arguing discussion with thirteen other grownups (I feel sorry for the two alternates; how exasperating would that be?) might be a little tedious.  Unless they agree with me; because I'm sure I will be right.  Then it will be a piece of cake. And speaking of cake the government reimburses me $160 a day for hotel and food, 51 cents a mile to drive both ways (330 miles round trip) and $40 a day salary for my stellar verdict-rendering skills (although that part is subtracted from my unemployment benefits which are now, coincidentally, being paid by the federal government because I've used up my state benefits.  Having never been unemployed this long, I was not aware of this wrinkle in the ledger sheet).   At any rate I can't say what the trial is about but when it ends, I will.

This is not actually my jury.  Mine has seven men and seven women who dress more casually than this group.

In other news--something I can talk about--I finally after months and months got my new teeth!  What do you think?  I know, right?  Now you can understand why I was so crabby about the expense.  When I got braces on the bottom teeth about six years ago (a relative pittance) I impatiently waited fifteen months to finally see the results, which were beautiful, and then the moment I walked out the orthodontist's door my teeth practically knocked each other out scrambling back into their familiar crooked positions.  He rigged a cable to the tongue side of my teeth to try to force them to stay where he put them, but it's a constant struggle to avoid anything crunchier than bananas.  I really had no choice--those teeth were determined to lie down on their sides like tragic dying animals--but the results were much less permanent than I had bargained for.  These new implants--the four front top teeth--are now an integral part of my skull and will last longer than my grandchildren will live.  If you are very wealthy I recommend getting all your teeth replaced with dental implants.  If you are a little kid with your fabulous original teeth I recommend never ever riding your bike downhill.  Trust me on that one.

And even more news:  Lillie has wrapped up her Chicago adventure and is home again and job-hunting.  I am ashamed that she has several prospective positions to choose from while I have none; but when the trial is over I'll put more effort into finding something.  We've been putting her room together and painting our toenails and having a great time. When I picked her up in Sacramento we went to IKEA and I bought this coffee table which is practically perfect.  I love IKEA.  We built this table (using instructions with no text, only line drawings) in about forty-five minutes.  After years of laboring for hours over Sauder's translated-from-pig-latin instructions and having the resulting bookshelf or TV cabinet still look wonky and home-made, IKEA  has ruined me forever.
Lottie the Carnivore has been busy.  Two large scrambling reptiles in one hour.  A week or so ago she captured two lizards which were each freed at least a hundred feet from the house, with the assumption that they would set up housekeeping further from Lottie's prowl zone.  It is difficult to determine if these are the same monsters who returned to their ancestral home or new creatures who have not learned (nor will ever learn) to avoid her.  All had had their tails amputated at some point and sported freshly sprouted new tails.  Our domestic catch-and-release program continues (even further afield).   Either way, ick.

Have a terrific week.

Hai! Git ur own lizerd dammot!#%$r