Monday, August 30, 2004

On call

Summoned by bells to go to the courthouse, I duly appeared. Those who began the empaneling session bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ended it wan and wobbly, for the most part. The cafeteria was open (its continued existence had once been in doubt), but the breaks were brief and the brand of ice-cream sandwiches available was not a favorite. There wasn't time to order up some French fries, for example. I was one of three who smoked a cigarette on any of the breaks. I was perhaps the only person without a cell phone. The pay-phone at the courthouse takes 35 cents for a local call; the pay-phone at the library takes 50 cents. I was one of the few to walk up, as well as down, the entire five flights of stairs. I was one of the half-dozen or so who noticed Sandra Bullock and her father leaving a neighboring courtroom. The panel called comprised 70 potential jurors, of whom all but two or three responded to the summons. A few men had to be admonished to remove their hats before entering the courtroom. It was evident from the beginning that the trial will be a long and involved one, and in fact at the end of the day it was announced that it's estimated that the case will take two (my guess is three) weeks to be tried. The lawyers do not appear to be on good terms personally. Although the summons was for the criminal courts, this panel was in fact convened for selection of a jury to hear a civil action. It was a relief not to be on the panel (I didn't think I'd be reached, since I was number 68 of 70). Had it been necessary to serve, though, it would have been preferable, certainly, to be assigned to a civil case. Never again do I want to be involved with a criminal case! Some bozo threw some of his possessions on top of mine at the screening station. Something about his stuff set off the alarm. In consequence, both of us were wanded. This is such idiocy! There were cushions on the pew-like seats in the courtroom, but the backs were straight and hard. At least we weren't jammed together as closely as we might have been. Both before and after the formalities and during the breaks, there were many amusing people with whom to converse. Austin continues to be a very interesting town.


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