Thursday, February 5, 2009

Juror Number 34264


Yesterday, I had jury duty.

Wait, let me back up.

I've always loved courtroomy, lawyerly, trially stuff. Love a good John Grisham book. My wife and I used to watch The Practice faithfully every week. Some of my favorite movie moments range from Jack Nicholson saying, "You can't handle the truth!" in A Few Good Men to the dude who plays Kramer telling a juror when he asks her name, "And may I remind you, you are under oath!" in Trial and Error.

And so it only made sense that I've always, always, always wanted to be called to jury duty. I mean, come on, that's half the reason I'm registered to vote! And yet, here I was, little sad James, having been eighteen since 1990 and never getting that vital piece of mail.

Until a few weeks ago. Yes, it came. A green piece of cardstock, offically naming me juror for the United States of America. I was to call a special telephone number on an encrypted line meant only for me on the eve of January 30th to get my top secret instructions. I put the sacred paper in my planner, marked the date, began to prepare myself by watching reruns of Perry Mason, Matlock and Murder, She Wrote.

My wife had to endure days and days of my lame pronouncements and jokes. Things like this:

"Maybe I'll stand up in the middle of a witness's testimony and yell, 'I hereby declare this a mistrial!' and then just tell 'em I was joshin' around, keep going."

"No matter what everyone else on the jury thinks, I'm gonna take the opposite opinion so we can drag the trial out and get on the news and make headlines all over the world and then I'll let it slip that I happen to be an author and we'll get all kinds of free publicity and then they'll have to call in an alternate for me because I'll be so famous and we'll buy a mountain in Colorado and build a JK Rowling/Enya castle on it."

"I hope they call me as the foreman. I think I'll use a British accent to help my chances."

You get the idea. Yes, I was excited. Yes, I thought through every little thing to make sure I got selected from the jury pool to actually serve on the jury. Yes, I hoped for a really big case. Yes, I'm an idiot.

The day came. January 30th. I was to call the secret number after 5:00 pm Mountain Standard Time. The world was ready for James Dashner, Juror Number 34264.

I forgot.

To call.

Yeah, I forgot to call.

So, Monday morning, I'm driving over to Barnes and Noble to do some writing. Stop by the Post Office, run some errands. Make a few phone calls. Check my email. Pull out my planner and...

HOLY CRAP! I forgot to call the freaking telephone number! It says right here on the letter that I will be sent to jail for 30 days and be forced to pay a fine of one thousand US Dollars. Not to mention the fact I may have lost my one chance in life to stand up and say, "Your Honor, we find the defendant..." then pause for a very long time and look around the room and make lots of dramatic faces before saying, "Guilty as charged! Buuuuuuuuuurn her!"

I call the number. Yes, I was supposed to report. I leave a message, profusely apologizing and begging them not to send me to jail. I drive downtown to the courthouse. It's noon, people. I was supposed to be there at 8:30. I'm scared.

The lady in charge looks at me like I'm an idiot. "Come on Wednesday," she says. Whew, no jail. I'm spared having to bunk up with Jack the Ripper, eating that grey mush on toast, and scratching lines for each day on the wall with my fingernails.

So I went yesterday, reporting 35 minutes early. The lady wasn't impressed and told me to go in the big room with everyone else and sit down. I did. Here's the great part: Despite being on the verge of having my name called and becoming perhaps the most important person to serve the halls of justice in a hundred years, I whipped out my laptop anyway and completed 1,000 words on Book 3 of The 13th Reality while I waited. Talk about multi-tasking under duress.

Bailiff Snow finally came and called my name along with 20 or so other people. I went into the courtroom. The case was underage drinking and assaulting a police officer by a girl who looked like she was about ten years old.

We were told it would be a one day trial. My heart sank. No murders, no decapitations, no armed robberies of banks. Instead, underage drinking. A girl slapping a cop on the shoulder. Dang.

In the end, I didn't even get chosen to be one of the six jurors. I was out of the courtroom and eating sushi in self-pity by noon. Can you say anti-climactic?

Well, anyway. Like they say, real life is not like the movies, and I had to learn the hard way. Maybe next time I'll try the American Idol strategy and dress up like a pink bunny and hop into the courtroom singing the anthem to SpongeBob. At least then I might get on TV. I might even get my own trial! Hey......

19 comments:

J.N. Future Author said...

^.^ I haven't laughed so hard in a while! your poor wife must have thought you were crazy.

hehe, a pity-party and sushi!

I'm still laughing!

Frank Cole said...

Dude that was hilarious! I think you should've gone dressed in black robes with one of those George Washington wigs and a mallet.

Luisa Perkins said...

You're such a crack-up! I always love jury duty--and let me tell you, fella, it was always exciting times when we lived in Manhattan (insert that weird "Law and Order" sound here).

LouMac said...

Hey! You'd make a great juror! Hope you don't go to jail. This is so funny! I would be rolling on the floor right now, but I am too busy writing!

Here's another word that makes me laugh: forph (the spam word)

Pink Ink said...

I've never been on jury duty ever. Lucky you!

Your story sounds more Night Court than L.A. Law.

LexiconLuvr said...

I'm sorry, James. Total letdown for you. You'll catch 'em next time. Be ready with that: "We find the defendant..." speech!

My father's an ATTY and has spent lots of time in the courtroom. He finally got so sick of it he switched his specialty to Estate Planning. He rarely has to go to court for dead people and he likes it that way. But the few times I've accompanied him (some professional occasions and some...personal. No, I'm not a felon.) it's been wild.

Cool story (and then I promise I'll stop jabbering) My great-grand father was an awesome criminal defense attorney and he once threw a knife in the courtroom towards the jury to prove a point. Needless to say, there were some people who never volunteered for jury duty after that! (Unfortunately, they don't let you knife-throw these days. Oh, the lack of drama.)

Jennifer Jenkins said...

Are you taking any medications? (long pause) Should you be?

By the way, Savage and I had a good chat about you on Saturday. I was excited to learn you're going to be team teaching at the Storymakers Conference. Very cool!

Heather B. Moore said...

You're ahead of the game, James. I've never even received a juror card. My husband just ignores his and hasn't been sent to jail yet.

Q said...

You know, most people want to get out of jury duty...

Melinda said...

Sushi is NEVER anticlimactic.

Sheila said...

My jury card is sitting right here next to me waiting for me to mail mine in. I have gone in before for duty, but the defense didn't want me. It was a drunk driving trial and the second I told them my Grandfather had been an alcoholic, they dismissed me faster than I could say, "Jury Duty". So that was my great experience.

Maybe the next time it will be more exciting.

Clint Johnson said...

Same thing happened to me last October. Except for forgetting to call, of course. And all the raving visions of juror stardom. And the Enya castle.

Enya castle???

Macotar said...

I was a juror on an accessory to Bank Robbery charge. She was the girlfriend of the bank robber and drove the get away car. We ate pizza and everything because I wasn't convinced she was guilty. We ended up letting her go. I figured if she was dumb enough to be the get away girl for an idiot, she'll do another crime and next time the prosecution will get their ehm CASE together.

James Dashner said...

Thanks for the great comments. You guys are hilarious.

Kimberly said...

Oh wow, that's the funniest post I've read in ages!

Rachelle said...

I just saw this on the newsletter--kudos! And thanks for the laugh--you are too funny! :)

David Lee said...

Your very funny piece got me to thinking about the potential for a comedy type tv show about the people who are called to be jurors! No matter how well meaning we all are if we serve, just imagine all the Walter Mitty daydreaming that must go on in boring cases. Thanks for a smile, and to the posted comment about Night Court for a 2nd smile.

Maya said...

This was hilarious! But it is so true too... I been in a situation like this a thousand times because I tend to forget if there is somnething I have to do like after 6 months at 1 pm...

didi said...

AV,無碼,a片免費看,自拍貼圖,伊莉,微風論壇,成人聊天室,成人電影,成人文學,成人貼圖區,成人網站,一葉情貼圖片區,色情漫畫,言情小說,情色論壇,臺灣情色網,色情影片,色情,成人影城,080視訊聊天室,a片,A漫,h漫,麗的色遊戲,同志色教館,AV女優,SEX,咆哮小老鼠,85cc免費影片,正妹牆,ut聊天室,豆豆聊天室,聊天室,情色小說,aio,成人,微風成人,做愛,成人貼圖,18成人,嘟嘟成人網,aio交友愛情館,情色文學,色情小說,色情網站,情色,A片下載,嘟嘟情人色網,成人影片,成人圖片,成人文章,成人小說,成人漫畫,視訊聊天室,a片,AV女優,聊天室,情色,性愛