October 11, 2005 - 9:12 p.m.
I was listening to a conservative talk show today and listened to the host talk with Catherine Crier. She's one of the good-looking pundits on CNN or something. She has or had her own show once upon a time. But before that, she was a judge in Dallas County. And I've been in her "chambers".
Many, many years ago, I was called for jury duty, which meant a morning off of work and an extra six bucks! As most of you that have served know, you go to a big room and check in at the front desk, then go find a place to sit. You bring something to read, because there's going to be some waiting. Eventually, names will be called and you go to the front, and a bailiff escorts you to a courtroom. You file in and sit in the audience area. The judge, who I thought was an extraordinarily young and attractive female, explain what's going on and then handed us over to the lawyers. They introduce themselves and then took turns ask some general disqualifying questions, looking for a show of hands and then start asking more specific questions. One of the general questions was whether anyone knew any of the participants named in this particular civil case. I thought one of the names sounded familiar, because it wasn't common and I'd heard it before, but I didn't know why or how. So I didn't say anything and things proceeded until we were asked to go wait outside.
While I was waiting outside, it occurred to me that my mom might be able to help me figure out how I knew the name. So I called her from a pay phone (this was a loooong time ago-no cell phones) and asked how I knew this particular name. She started laughing and teased me a bit, asking me to think as far back I could. When I got impatient, she finally told me...he was the man that had delivered me. The first person to touch my naked body was being sued. (Thank God it wasn't a medical case.)
After I hung up with her, I mulled that bit of information...then thought it might be a good idea to let someone know that I hadn't been entirely truthful earlier. I saw one of the lawyers walking down the hall and I reached up and tapped him on the shoulder, tell him I needed to talk to him. He pulled away as if I had open, puss-filled sores on my hands and held his hand up and walked over to talk to the bailiff. Then the bailiff motioned me over, and I could hear the lawyer telling him, "He talked to me, I didn't talk to him..." I rolled my eyes, but the bailiff glared at me and told me to follow him into the courtroom. He told wait and he went into a side room by the front. He then went out into the hall and got the lawyers from each side and he had me follow them into an office...of the good lookin' blonde judge.
She asked me to say what I wanted, and I explained the whole story about my mom and my nakedness and that man out there. She raised an eyebrow and asked if I thought it would prejudice my feelings in the case one way or the other. I told her I couldn't be sure, but I might let it linger in my mind. So she exhaled deeply and said, okay, go out in the hall. After a few more minutes, we were all called back into the courtroom and seated. The bailiff read off some names and they were seated in the jury box. My name wasn't one of them. We were then released for the rest of the day. And I walked out of Catherine Crier's courtroom, a free man!
There's postscript to the story:
Later that night, I was at a bowling alley with some friends, drunkenly heaving balls down the lane and being stupid. I was walking back from the bathroom when who walks right up to me, but the lawyer for my doctor. He's shaking his head and saying, "Dammit, I wanted you! Those bastards didn't prove their case, but that jury couldn't figure it out. I was hoping you'd be the voice of reason..." He obviously didn't realize I was drunk off my ass, but I held it together enough to smile and say "Thanks" and "Sorry". I think he had to go to the restroom too, so he let me go before he got a whiff of my breath.
Fun stuff in jurisprudence.