It's the buttcrack of dawn and there is a chill to the air. I had to get up early to check the cable system and see if a high school football game correctly published to a VOD channel and, so, I'm grumpy. The coffee will help shortly. But, welcome to what I call my "Sunday Mop Up", where God and I review the past week here in jimmycity and, together, we try to figure out who is to blame for what. I rarely point an accusing finger.
I got there by 8:30AM, and sat around until nearly 9:15. Made me furious. I had to drive clear to the other end of town in morning rush hour traffic to be there on time. How do people contend with this shit on a daily basis?
There were 17 of us, and all they needed was 6 jurors. We were impaneled and interviewed for those slots. I noticed that people who volunteered information about themselves got paid a lot of attention. I figured this attention meant that they were going to be noticed and chosen as jurors. So, I kept my mouth shut. No one asked me anything directly, and I kept all opinions to myself. The case going to trial was for a black guy who was clocked going 81mph in a 65 mph zone. He was defending himself, so he was allowed to interview prospective jurors as well. One of his questions to us was "Does anyone know what 'DWB' means?" We must have looked dumbstruck, because he told us. 'DWB' meant "Driving While Black". In other words, this guy was accusing the police of profiling him because of his race.
I didn't want ANYTHING to do with THIS trial! So, I kept quiet.
After ten minutes of questions from both the prosecutor and the defendant, we were asked to leave the courtroom while jurors were determined. It was 10AM, and I figured I would be out of there within 30 minutes. When we were called back, they read the names of the jurors. They called my name. I was selected. Fuck!
I was asked to take a seat in the juror's box, along with five others. Everyone else was excused, and the six of us were given our instructions. We were to listen to the case, go back to a little room and determine who the Foreman was going to be among us, and then had to come to a UNANIMOUS decision about the case and, if guilty, determine the fine the defendant was to pay.
Before we heard the chronology of what happened, we were schooled on how a Doppler II radar unit works. The thing gets checked and tuned and tested daily by the Officer. It had been tested that very day, and was working properly. Turns out, you use tuning forks to calibrate radar guns. Huh! Who knew?
The six of us listened to the hoo-ha. 8PM on May 31st, an Officer in an unmarked patrol car was driving 65 in the right hand lane of a long stretch of highway. Suddenly, a BMW SUV blows past him in the center lane. The Officer hits a switch and turns on his radar, which clocks the SUV at 81mph. The Officer turns his lights on, pursues and pulls over the car. The driver was not argumentative or disagreeable and signs the ticket.
Now, the ticket is brought into evidence. The Officer had mistakenly marked the driver as being Asian, then crossed through that and marked African. Also brought into evidence is the report. The Officer states in it that he was driving and saw the suspect drive past him, speeding. The black guy claimed that if the Officer really HAD seen him, he would have known that he was black, not Asian. Clearly, argued the defendant, the Officer had clocked someone else.
The Officer admits that he made a mistake in checking "Asian", but corrected it on the spot. The Officer says that when, in his report, he states he saw the suspect speed past, he meant he saw the CAR speed past, not the individual in the car. The Officer explains that at no point did he ever take his eyes off the speeding vehicle, so there was no way he had used the radar on another vehicle. - It didn't help matters that, as the prosecution was laying out the case for us, the lawyer for The State referred to the car as being a "black BMW". For that matter, the Officer referred to it as a "black BMW" as well. The defendant points out that his SUV is, in fact, GRAY!
[gasp!] [insert an eyeroll from me here]
The prosecution apologizes and reminds us all that the TICKET clearly states that the color of the car in question was GRAY, it was a slip of the tongue and should not be a problem for the jury. After all, these lawyers see case after case, day after day. Is it any wonder that they can keep any of these details straight?
The defendant seemed pretty certain that these details bring the whole "beyond a reasonable doubt" rule into play. How could we, as a jury, be sure that the speeding car in question was his, when the Officer got his ethnicity wrong, and now The State and the Officer can't seem to get the color of his car correct?
We are now sent into a back room to deliberate. Our first task is to pick a Foreman. When seated around a table, the eyes turn to me, and the black guy suggests me as the Foreman. "Look," I explain, "thanks, but I would like to make another suggestion. This guy thinks he is being picked on because he is black. He mentioned that a cop who sees a black man in a BMW is going to get a second look, anyways. It will send a message to this guy that we, as a jury, felt unanimously that this guy is guilty if it is presented by another black man." A very timid Oriental woman jumped in and exclaimed "I aglee!"
It was decided. The black juror was very startled that we wanted him to be the Foreman, but seemed pleased.
The case was an easy decision. The defendant had even gone so far as to speculate that the Officer had perhaps actually clocked an Asian in a black BMW SUV, not the the black guy in question. I pointed out that not once had the defendant said that he had not been speeding, but rather, was trying to point out errors in the paperwork. He never denied that he passed the unmarked patrol car. He had mentioned being black and owning a BMW and being picked on as a way of playing the race card. It was ridiculous. The Officer who wrote the ticket was Hispanic, by the way.
We had to figure out what his fine was to be. We had a range of $1 - $200 to assess. I suggested that we find out how much the ticket would have cost. We sent a note to the bench, and found out that the ticket was for $160, and that, if found guilty, the guy would owe court costs of $105. We assessed him a fine of the $160, then. With court costs, he would have to pay 265 bucks. Done and done.
We filed back into the courtroom and the Foreman delivered our decision on a piece of paper to the judge, who read aloud what we had decided. The defendant shook his head like he had been ripped off. I shook my head and wanted to tell him that he had wasted all of our time with this flimsy dispute. We were dismissed right at noon, and I felt I had participated in my "civic duty" and was relieved to find out that, having gone through this, I wouldn't be hit up for jury duty again for a full year.
And that, kids, was how I wasted my Thursday morning.
jimmycity makes a porno
Using my digital camera, I shot a couple of minutes of a movie of me being a bit of an exhibitionist. Meat Puppet Theatre, if you will. I emailed it to a few select friends. I am now regretting that I did this am sure that at some point it will surface on the internet and my mother or father will see it and have a heart attack.
This has been my moment of TMI for the week. Sorry.
How About A Music Video?!?
...since I mentioned video, here's a clip of a song by a band that has been around for several years to whom I have just been introduced. I like it when the animals start dancing.
And here's another. Music to take drugs to, a friend has said. I disagree. I'm sober as a judge and enjoy it.
Finally, Let's Check In On "Overheard In New York"
Well I've Been Trying to Cut Back on MSG
Woman to younger boyfriend: Honey, that Chinese food that you brought over is still in my fridge. I was going to throw it out.
Younger boyfriend: No, I'll eat it.
Woman: You don't think it's gone bad?
Boyfriend: It's only two days old. You're 31, and you haven't gone bad yet.
Woman: That makes no sense, and in any event, you haven't eaten me in a while either.
--Upper East Side
via Overheard in New York, Oct 18, 2008