November 17, 2005

One of the great things about our country is that the Constitution gives everyone the right to a trial by a jury of our peers. Yet somehow, nobody seems to ever enjoy getting a summons for jury duty. If I get arrested and charged with jury duty evasion or whatever crime it is, wouldn't a jury of my peers understand and let me off? Or would they just be angry they couldn't get out if it and give me the chair?

I have never been selected to serve on a jury and I hoped to keep my streak intact. Not that I am against doing my civic duty. I pay taxes. I vote. I would even serve in the military if they brought back the draft. It just wasn't a good time for me to take a week or more off work because I have this thing called 'rent' to take care of and I was trying to build up my coffers for a potential trip to the Las Vegas Bowl should Cal be a participant. (This is the only bowl game I would want to attend.)

So I'm in the assembly room with maybe 150 other people. The first group gets called, a total of 85 potential jurors. I was hoping to be in this group, since the larger the pool, the lesser the chances of getting selected, but I missed out. The room is thinned out, and the next group has 45 names, including mine.

Using my mental math skills, I figure that there was about a 30% chance of getting selected as one of the 12 or the one alternate. If it were poker on tv, the screen would show 28.9% next to my name. Then the judge started going row by row to see if anyone needed their service time to be deferred or excused. I was in the last row, so I kept track of people's excuses and reasons and tried to recalculate my odds of being selected and therefore ending my no-jury streak. It got up to about 40% (I figured 12 of the 14 before me had good reason to leave). I wasn't willing to make some crazy or racist comments to get booted, so rather than risk it, I asked for and received a deferral until school is out on winter break, when I wouldn't be missing any work.

Of course, this may conflict with the Las Vegas Bowl plans should Cal receive a bid to play, but I had to play the odds. There is always the possibility the next time I call in, my group will not have to report. Another thing in my favor: It'll be the holidays and lawyers/judges hopefully won't want to work. If it comes down to it, I'll just commit a felony and make my no-jury streak permanent.

I guess if Cal goes to play in the Insight Bowl or the SF Emerald Nuts Bowl, I might as well go to the courthouse and make my $15 per day plus 34 cents per mile.

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