True Stories from Jury Duty

I was listening to NPR this afternoon, and Peter Mehlman was on there discussing an article he wrote about getting out of jury duty. A couple years ago, I managed to find myself on jury duty as well. I sat on two juries – one trial we had to find him guilty (video evidence) and the second, we all knew the guy was guilty but had no solid evidence to convict. So I was running about 50/50 when the third trial came up.

I was not looking forward to this one.  It was a case where the father was accused of abusing an infant. There’s not much I can’t stomach less than child abuse. The questioning was going along as the attorneys selected potential jurors, and I just knew I was going to get picked. A mother, a former teacher, an opinionated bitch.

Never mind that last one.

As the questioning progressed, however, so did time. I’m used to sitting in an office all day, and my body is used to certain things happening at certain times. For example, I always take a restroom break at about 10 AM. Well, by 11 I was crossing my legs, and as noon came and went with no sign of a break in sight, I politely raised my hand to ask if we could have a restroom break. Talk about embarrasing! But as we entered the bathroom en masse, I was thanked by many of my co-would-be-jurors.

But as we came back into the courtroom, we knew something was up. The lawyers and the judge were twittering away, clearly agitated. When we sat back down, we found out what the scoop was.

They’d declared a mistrial. And it was all my fault.

You see, to get to the restrooms at our local courthouse, you go through a small lobby area. Apparently the mother was sitting in this lobby with her child, who wore a bib saying “I Love My Daddy.” None of us had seen it, but they couldn’t take the chance. The whole jury pool had been prejudiced, they claimed, and a new pool would have to be drawn.

So, if you ever want to get out of jury duty, try using the bathroom. It worked for me! And they haven’t called me since.


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