Recently, the upstanding citizens at MojoFiction received a notice calling us in for Jury duty. Obviously, someone didn’t think that through, what with our recent performance serving on the parole board for O.J. Simpson:
O.J.’s Lawyer: “As you can see, when he’s not committing violent crimes, my client is a model prisoner and all around swell guy.”
Parole Board: “Is this true?”
O.J.: “I only shank people sometimes. And I smile when I do it.”
MojoFiction: “Can we get your autograph on a new Bronco we just bought?”
O.J.: “If you let me go.”
Admittedly, it was Nevada and we may have placed a side-bet on “Released.”
But the great(ish) state of Illinois, and Cook county in particular, decided to call us in anyway. The official request called us “Alternate Juror.” Alternate Juror is, of course, that new Marvel superhero you’ve been hearing about. As Alternate Juror, we would swoop in to save the day if a regular, non-super juror on a case had to be removed because they were secretly involved in a relationship with the accused, the judge, and also the court reporter. As Alternate Juror, we would use our secret powers of catching up on what the trial was about and debating it with other jurors in sequestration.
FLASH CIVICS FACT: Sequestration sounds like something medieval that all men should fear, but it isn’t! It actually means “to sequest your rations,” which is a good idea if you’re only a little hungry.
Unfortunately, it turns out that such seedy jury stories only happen on Law and Order: After Dark, and the occasional James Patterson novel.
After calling our employer to say that we wouldn’t be at work that day, and hearing someone in the background say, “Thank God” (we know it was you Brenda), we drove to the courthouse to participate in the great American judiciary process.
Well, it turns out everyone that day was an alternate juror. They stuck everyone in a big room with about sixty chairs, a vending machine, and a bad feeling that we’d been tricked. Of course, we here at MojoFiction are probably just paranoid. So we randomly travel to Russia during presidential elections. So what? That doesn’t mean anything.
As alternate jurors, any of us might find ourselves called in to a court room that day. It would be completely random and depend on the needs of the trials going on. To help explain the situation, the room supervisor played a short educational video called, “We hope you’re not paid by the hour, because you’re only getting seventeen bucks today.”
The star of this video was none other than legendary news anchor Lester Holt. We’re not sure how old this video was, but Lester had, apparently, dyed his hair black, grown a mustache, and de-aged by about twenty years. Talk about vanity. Maybe we can forgive the hair dye, but regressing in age and growing a sweet ‘stache? That’s just over the top.
Through this twenty-year-old video, Lester’s mustache told the assembled jury pool that, while they may fall asleep during this incredibly boring video, they may also become involved in a serious criminal trial, which can be exciting and practically demand a Snapchat post. However, under no circumstances should anyone live-stream or (and this was the most important part) let anyone else know that they actually live in Cook county, which is Illinois’ silliest county. …Just kidding. The video was so old that no one in it even had a cell phone and social media meant accidentally bumping into people in the street who were reading newspapers and not watching where they were going.
After the video finished and everyone woke up, the room supervisor told us that it was a light day at the courthouse, with only one criminal trial and several others that may or may not need a jury. But we wouldn’t know until we’d sat there for hours on end, waiting.
FLASH TOM PETTY FACT: The wai-aiting is the hardest part.
MojoFiction broke out a book at this point, some thriller about Templars and treasure and shaking Christianity to its core. These secrets always shake Christianity to its core. They never “rub atheists’ noses in it.” Why not? Stupid atheists, always getting off easy because of science and stuff.
After we finished our novel and the novel of the person sitting next to us and then took a long nap, the room supervisor dismissed us. No one needed a jury and the one criminal proceeding decided on a bench trial. We don’t know what that bench did, but we hope it had good lawyers.
Honestly, though, we were disappointed. Judging people is a time-honored American tradition. Jury duty is the same as posting on the internet, but with actual facts, which sounds totally crazy, and we wanted to experience it.
After being dismissed, we suffered a moral dilemma. It was only noon. We could go home with our $17.00 check, or go in to work for the rest of the day. It was a no-brainer. We went in to work.
Happy to see us, Brenda? Yeah, that’s what we thought.