This past Thursday, I was summoned for Jury Duty.
I’ve done it a few times before, and while it’s always such fun to sit in a room with a bunch of ho bags and riff raff other citizens from our fair state, I have never been picked for a trial.
It was inevitable, My Minions.
We were told that there were TWELVE judges with pending trials looking for potential jurors that day, so I KNEW that my number would be up at some point!
Actually, even though I ended up on a very odd case, I consider myself lucky.
The first trial that we potential jurors were brought down for, was a very high profile criminal case involving a man being accused of beating his step-daughter into a coma.
Horrible stuff that had been all over the news for months.
He had already been tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion and I thought that he did it as well.
So I told the judge that, and he excused me from serving on the case. And I wasn’t the only one.
Out of a potential 113 jurors over 80 of them were excused.
The case is supposed to take at least two weeks. Ack.
Of course, being excused from this case just meant that I went straight back into the “jury pool” to see if I could be placed on another case.
And lucky me, the next trial that came up I was placed as a juror.
This was the weird case that I mentioned earlier.
It was a civil case between the city and a businessman.
The businessman had received a small-business loan from a city agency in the late 80’s and the city was now suing him saying that he hadn’t been paying them back on a regular basis.
He was countersuing the city because they had put him on a published list of “deadbeats” and it had ruined his good name.
What apparently had happened was this. He had been making regular payments by check during the first ten years of the loan, but in the late 90’s he had been contacted by one of the agency’s administrators and told that the form of payment was now to change.
They now wanted all the payments made in cash, and the administrator would be coming in person to collect each of those payments.
Sound fishy yet, My Minions? It gets better.
About two years ago this agency’s “administrator” was arrested by the federal authorities for fraud and embezzlement of city funds and he is currently serving a very long term in federal prison!
So you would think that this poor man was just another victim of this administrator, and in my thinking you would be right.
But the city didn’t look at it that way.
They assumed that the man had stopped making payments in the 90’s and they were now going after him.
But, it’s not that simple.
Apparently in 2003 he had signed paperwork to refinance his loan with this same agency! Which to my thinking didn’t make a lot of sense if the city claimed that he owed them back payments.
Anyway, the case came to court and I was one of the jurors.
In the opening statements the lawyers for each side explained the case.
I assumed that the city’s attorney would try to prove that the defendant hadn’t made payments in almost ten years. And I also assumed that the defendant’s lawyer would try to show that his client had been making cash payments to this “administrator” and would have proof of those payments.
But you know what happens when you assume something, don’t you?
After the opening statements, the attorney for the city called their first, and as it turned out, only witness: the current executive in charge of the city agency.
The attorney spent the next twenty minutes recording various ledgers and documents as “exhibits”. She then asked the executive several questions that to my mind didn’t make a lot of sense, as far as establishing what the defendant had paid on the loan and as far as what he still owed. She would ask the witness to confirm the defendant’s signature on some documents from the late 80’s and other, in my opinion, pointless questions, and then she was done!
The defendant’s attorney was then allowed to cross-examine the witness. And again, I assumed that he would try to establish what had been paid and what hadn’t and what proof that the city had, but he didn’t.
He was worse than the city’s attorney as far as asking questions that seemed pointless and in many cases the witness, who you would have thought would be prepared to answer questions concerning the payment history of the defendant, didn’t have a clue.
And while all of this questioning was going on, it kept getting interrupted by at least four sidebar conversations between the judge and the two attorneys!
We couldn’t hear the conversations, but, I could tell that the judge was rapidly losing her patience with both attorneys!
After the defense attorney had finished his confusing cross-examination of the witness, the attorney for the city rested her case!! Which meant that she was done!
At this point the judge called for a short recess and we jury members were escorted to another room.
About ten minutes later the baliff came in and said that we would be going back into the courtroom in about five minutes.
Five minutes later the baliff came back in, only the judge was with him!
She told us that the case was over and she had ruled for the defendant!
She then sat down with us and for the next half hour tried to explain exactly what had just happened.
She apologized up front for what was basically a waste of our time serving as jurors, but never in her wildest dreams had she imagined that both lawyers would have done such a poor job in preparing for this case!
She told us that there had been at least four pre-trial hearings before this case actually came to trial and the only reason that she had allowed it to come to trial was that the city had shown paperwork that had been signed by the defendant, which, to her mind, meant that there was just cause for this case to go to trial!
She also told us that she was as confused as the rest of us as to the pointless line of questioning from both attorneys in regards to the one and only witness. And it had come as a complete shock to the judge when the city’s attorney had rested her case after establishing nothing!!!
Which is why she decided to stop wasting her time and the tax payer’s money any further on this case.
So basically, no one will ever know how much money the city is out from non-collection of this loan, because the city couldn’t prove a thing as far as what was paid and what was not paid. And since she had ruled for the defendant, he dropped his countersue case!
She thanked us again for our time and added to us that this isn’t normally how the justice system works.
And with that, my time as a juror (for at least the next three years) came to a close…