Thursday, March 23, 2006
  Jury duty finished

Now that the jury experience is over, a few more comments.
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1.

Though I had to be on call for two weeks, I was only called into the courthouse for the first three days. [This is apparently typical.] Made it as far as the 'voir dire' stage twice. Neither of those cases came near any of my biases, so I couldn't honestly disqualify myself, but I was never selected.

Nevertheless, the entire two-week period was exhausting, because in recent years I've arranged my narrow little life for minimum stress, minimum expense, and maximum concentration. I'm thoroughly unaccustomed to the 8-5 routine, and being a nightowl, never performed well on that schedule anyway. So I've had to put creative activities on hold during these two weeks to avoid a wasted false start on a project; and also had to stay prepared for a possible series of long days away from home.

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2.

The television stereotype of juries (welfare recipients, culled for maximum ignorance) definitely doesn't apply in Spokane. Maybe it's true in Los Angeles and New York, but not here. The initial 'call group' on Monday morning was thoroughly randomized on every possible scale: age, gender, race, occupation and status. The assistant city manager, who actually runs the city, was in this group and had to take his chances along with everyone else.

I wasn't quite assuming the TV pattern, but was still surprised at the actual criteria for selection. Potential jurors who were directly acquainted with one of the parties were tossed, as you'd expect. But lawyers on both sides clearly wanted jurors who had experience with the situation in question, or knowledge of similar situations, whether the experience was positive or negative. Both sides preferred sociable and engaged jurors.

By the third day, the jury waiting room was a dour and morose place, because the chipper extroverts were all serving, and only the tight-lipped introverts were still on hold!

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3.

I briefly mentioned my previous experience on the wrong side of a corrupt court system in Ohio. Might as well tell it in some detail, because it accounts for most of my stress and dread, and shows why I'm so surprised by the overall competence and honesty of the Spokane system.

In March of 1969 (Jeez, 37 years ago!) the Bowling Green police made a massive bust, cracking up a 'drug ring'. Well, we weren't a 'ring'; we hadn't even known each other prior to arrest. The only thing we had in common was that we had all bought from a guy named Scott, who was never arrested. My roommate was never arrested, even though the only pot in our apartment was found in his room. Why? Well, just a random note, which I mention for no particular reason: he came from a prominent Ohio family, a name you'd recognize. Of course that couldn't have any possible connection with his continued freedom.

Out of the twenty or so 'ring members', only one had a previous conviction. He got out first. Why? Again mentioning some random facts: this guy had not been involved in left-wing politics, because he was on the BGSU football team. By another remarkable coincidence, he was let out of jail a week before practice started, and rejoined the team.

Most of the 'ring' (including me) spent six months in the walls, then served a few years probation and had our rights restored. Two guys stayed longer; their charge was the same, and I don't think they misbehaved inside, but I do know that they had been the most active and well-known leftists. These coincidences just keep piling up higher and deeper, don't they?

So the whole deal was basically political in both senses of the word. It served to advance the careers of several BG cops and prosecutors.

However: a couple years later, I heard that those very same BG cops ended up in jail themselves. Seems their enthusiasm for search warrants coincided with a tendency to take and sell various goodies from the searched premises.

Can I spell Schadenfreude? You bet.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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