These were the words written in stone on the Maricopa County Court building in downtown Phoenix. They are inspiring words and yet, they would have been so much better if you could see them from the street instead of only at an odd angle because of the other court buildings blocking the view.
Why was I at court? Given that I am a model citizen (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) I received a jury summons. And like I always do, I said I could attend. Because I believe in the constitution and it’s little enough to ask for all my country has given me.
It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I’m a bit bloodthirsty and think jay-walking should be a capital offense or enjoy nothing more than driving by Sheriff Joe’s tent city and taking snapshots of all the big-bads in pink:-) That’s my story and unless you can prove otherwise…
Roughly every 26 months I get summoned to appear. And I dutifully fill out the questionaire and send it in. This time, I filled it out online. The gerbils powering my computer apparently had a few breaks coming because it took soooooo long but I had thought it went through until I got a postcard saying I’d been excused because I was under 18.
Um, given this was superior court where the big bads hung out and ate newbie public defenders, I thought it would behoove me to clear up the little age snafu before I ended up on the wrong side of the jury bench. So I called, the lady laughed and I was back on the A list.
The night before I was to appear, I called up the courts to see if my number was up. Lucky me, I was one of 3 that had to report in the morning. After studying the map to the parking garage, noting all the one way streets and streets blocked for construction and the transient sleeping areas, I set out an hour ahead of time (which was an hour and half before I needed to report OR ELSE).
I made good time despite the rush hour traffic until I hid the Presidential streets that aren’t apparently for driving but for walking and not looking for cars. Twenty minutes and one mile later, I made it to the parking garage without a new hood ornament and pried my fingers from the steering wheel to let the guard know that I had a personal invitation to the party. Buzzing me inside, I was told to park on level 3 and up. Apparently, I wasn’t A list material as the first two levels were empty (guess the special folks hadn’t arrived yet.)
But I did catch the special bus for the one mile jog to the courthouse cluster.
LIke a good lemming, I followed the rest of the summoned through the correct door, unloaded all my stuff onto the belt and stepped through the detector only to be wanded for buzzing. Who knew my magnetic personality was actually caused by real metal in my body?
After the guards took a triple look at my purse (don’t know why, I barely look in there) I gathered my belongings and schlepped over to the juror assembly area. Whereby I looked at the kiosk, apparently I gave it a dirty look, so it refused to scan my badge then replied I’d already checked it and printed me up another badge.
Okay… The superior court computers don’t like me. I get it.
I sat for a bit in some very nice digs and watched history channel while pretending to do stuff on my ipad. Then we had several programs on the court system and why it’s important that we show up for service and I got to listen to Sandra Day O’Conner speak, which is always cool. Then the screen blanked and my name and number flashed.
Someone had rolled the dice and I was moving up to the courtroom.
After the jester/bailiff had fun pronouncing our names and joking about his leg injury we slogged up an escalator, a ramp, over a bridge then twisted and turned like serpents until reaching the elevator to the 9th floor to the courtroom.
In the 11 times I’ve been summoned, I’d only made it to the courtroom twice. I’ve never been chosen for a jury probably because of my 24 first cousins, a very large percentage of them have been convicted of a crime. It’s never affected my ability to be impartial until…
Yep, until the defendants were introduced and the charges read. Then I flashed back to my niece who broke into her husband’s house during their separation to get her clothes. She was convicted of trespassing and theft.
Not fair, not justice, not right.
And so when I looked at the defendant, I knew I couldn’t be impartial. I wanted her to be innocent and so I would do everything to convince the other jurors that she was innocent. And knowing myself, I’d probably do it too.
And that was not fair, not just, nor right for the person whose house she was accused of trespassing and burglarizing.
So when the judge asked if I could be impartial, I said no. I was dismissed to return to the juror assembly room then sent home. I’m sure I’ll have better luck the next time:-)