Opinion » Bill Cope

One Angry Man

The runaway jurist


I just want to warn you ahead of time. Should I disappear somewheres around the end of the month and you don't hear from me again for a while, it's because I've been summoned to jury duty. That's right. Jury duty.

This is the first I've ever heard from them. The jury picker people. No lie, I'm 56-years-old ... or 57, depending on who you believe ... and I've never been called. I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me. Like, I smell bad and everyone in the legal system knows it. For a while, I was even beginning to think--paranoid as it may sound--that they don't let Democrats be on juries in Idaho. How crappy would that be? That Democrats aren't being allowed to contribute with full and equal vigor to our American courtships! That Democrats are being quietly and insidiously stripped of any participation in Lady Justice's affairs! Imagine my outrage! Wait'll the ACLU hears about this! Dial Missuss Church up and hand me the phone, by God! I wanna know if Bethine's ever been summoned!

That was until my wife reminded me she's a Democrat, too, and that she'd served. She also pointed out that I'd lived for ten years in the home state of John Glenn and Dennis Kucinich, and that Ohio didn't want me on their juries either.

So what's the deal? I worked with a lady once who was summoned three times in one year. And my poor old Mom! Every other piece of mail she got was either from Billy Graham, Medicare or the Ada County Jury Commissioner. Tell you what! ... when I get there--before I answer any questions about whether I'm for the death penalty or against it--I want some answers of my own. I want to know exactly why it took nearly 40 years for them to pull up my number! What! They drop me behind a filing cabinet when I was born and just now found me? They run out of little old ladies to pester? They heard I don't wear underpants? What!?

Bailiff, who the hell do I have to pay off to get some satisfaction around here!?!

And then, after they see how eager I am to serve on a jury, I have no doubt I will be chosen. How could I not? It's responsible citizens like me what keeps those jurisprudences aspinnin'.

But before you DAs get too excited about me showing up, I'd like to lay out what sort of cases I'd be willing to juryate over and which ones I wouldn't. I'll bet you other Americans didn't know you could do that ... pick and chose the trials you will and won't participate in ... did you?

Damn straight! I have it right here in my own personal law library, Posse Comitatus for Dummies. It says, "Hencewise, in accordance with divine laws set forth in both the U.S. Constitution and the Rosicrucian Handbook, any citizen of whatever county said citizen lives in may petition the Sheriff of said county and demand to be placed either on or off whichever juryastic panel he so wishes to be placed on or off of, provided that he can provide ample evidence of residencicity in said county for up to 30 days, not counting whatever time he spent in said county's jail for that Friday night when he got all liquored up and locked himself in the trailer park storage shed with a weed whacker and they had to call in the S.W.A.T. team."

There. How much clearer can it get?

So, first of all, don't put me on Martha Stewart's retrail. And I don't want to be there when they stick it to those Enron guys, either. You start talking about high finance trading bonds or insider junk golden parachutes around me, and all I want to do is nod off. Snooo-zer! Like that movie, Greed? ... slept through the whole damn thing. Couldn't tell you what it was about if you sent me to Abu Ghraib prison for a debrief. (But listen. If I do have to sit on my fanny all day and listen to how some rich crook managed to get way richer by screwing everyone else, the least they could do is make me a company CEO somewheres when it's all over. If I take the time to learn the ropes, give me one good reason why not?)

And I don't want to be on no celebrity trials either. Can you imagine having to look at Michael Jackson for weeks and weeks? Or Nick Nolte, next time he trips over a curb? Or Robert Blake? Jeez, nobody has a face like that if they ain't guilty.

Now, Winona Rider ... maybe. I always sorta liked her. Especially in Beetlejuice. Or was that Christina Ricci? I get them so confused. And that Nicole Kidman ... I wouldn't mind serving on her jury. You know ... like if she ever gets arrested, sign me up!

Now that I think about it, maybe Martha Stewart wouldn't be so bad. Be some kind of kick to hold her fate in my hands while I'm wearing a stripes/polka dot mix, eh? Hah! If I couldn't get a tell-all book out of that, I got no business in the writing business.

All in all, I'd prefer to be on some local official's trail, if you please. Something simple, short and sweet, but with lots of corruption and plenty of sex ... if it's tastefully done and fits within the context of the trail. Too bad I wasn't there when Gary Lyman went up the river. Honest, I could have pretended to be as unprejudicial as the next guy, and I wouldn't have laughed when the verdict was read or nothin'. Hey, I know how to act in public!

What'd really be cool is if I could get on the jury of whoever it is thought up the parking arrangements for the courthouse down on Front Street. And yeah, I do believe in the death penalty, but only for special cases.

But listen up, Perry ... whatever I get picked for, I'm a busy guy. So let's show some hustle, okeydokey? Hold the trips to the bench down to a minimum, and let's not use your closing arguments as an audition for the local dinner theater's production of To Kill a Mockingbird, what say? A fella's only got so much attention span to start with, and I used up most of mine on the Watergate hearings.

Dang, I'm glad I got this column done before my jury duty days. Seriously. I'm going to cut it out and take it down to Myrtle Street and show it to some judges. I mean, if this doesn't get me on a good jury, nothing will.

One last thing. I want to be the foreman. What's the point of being anything else? Huh? They never get to talk even, those other 11. According to what I've seen on them Grisham movies, they just sit there like ceramic lawn trolls and nod now and then. Looo-zers! Nope, I want the foreman gig, or you can forget it.

Oh, and save me a seat close to the bathroom.

Oh, and if I can't go outside to smoke at least once an hour, I expect somebody to bring the Nicotrol, and it ain't gonna be me.