Pick Me! Pick Me!

July 22, 2009 at 1:46 am (Uncategorized)

Over dinner last night (spaghetti bolognese, one of my better ones for reasons probably to do with an extra slug of red wine and very good meat), Llew casually dropped into conversation that he was called up for jury duty a week or so ago. He has to present himself at the court for jury selection at the beginning of next month, and, if chosen, may be off work for as long as two months while he performs his civic duty. At least, that’s the timeframe on his letter, which I haven’t seen. It was all news to me, first I’d heard. Which brings me to the point of today’s post: why Llew? Again? Why not me? Where’s my letter??

“I can’t believe you’ve been called up again,” I sulked into my bowl. “That’s the third time. Why can’t they ask me? I’ve never been asked, not once. Don’t they know I’m here?”

“I can’t believe you’re actually jealous about this. It’s jury duty.”

“I don’t see why they’re so keen to have you instead of me,” I said, stabbing my spaghetti. “I’d be a great juror!”

Llew laughed and laughed and laughed.

“Dumb jury duty,” I muttered. “Didn’t want to do it anyway.”

The thing is, I find the law quite fascinating, at least until we get to the subject of billable units (zzzzzzz…). And the jury concept is one of the core principles of our judicial system. It’s an experience no amount of money can buy, which is also part of its appeal. You have to be selected to serve on a jury, and as far as I can see, the reasons why you may or may not be dismissed during the selection process are subjective and at the whim of legal counsel. That all makes it a bit of a lottery. But I’ve never even advanced to the waiting room. I’ve never had the letter in the mail.

“What’s wrong with me?” I wailed to my glass of pinot, while Llew managed his hysterics on the other side of the table. “Why don’t they want me?”

The first time he was called up for selection, Llew missed out on sitting on the jury for the Ivan Milat Backpacker Murders trial. The writer in me is completely fascinated by the idea of participating in such a case, but I have to admit, I know I’d struggle with the graphic details and the evidence tendered to the court. I don’t see dead people, and that’s the way I like it. Shudder. We don’t know what he missed out on the second time, only that they chose their jury and dismissed the remainder, of which Llew was one. Professional white male… I guess the odds are against him. They can’t stack the jury with too many of those…

But what about me…? And if the lawyers are never going to choose Llew, then why do they keep calling him up?? He just can’t understand my enthusiasm, but I’d love to see what goes on behind closed doors, I’d love to be part of the process. And then I’d like to write about it.

“You can’t write about it,” Llew said. “You can’t even talk about it. Oh my god. You’d be completely hopeless.”

“Maybe not at the time,” I said. “But later I could, I think. And anyway, I could make up a completely fictional trial and just use what I know for authenticity. But as it is I have no idea what happens when the jury retires.”

“Honey, you don’t even know what the letter looks like.”

“Thank you, Llew. Good of you to point that out.”

I bet they wouldn’t pick me anyway. I can just see one lawyer leaning across to the other and whispering, “Too eager.”

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7 Comments

  1. kate4samh said,

    Mmmm, been there, done that and it is as absolutely fascinating as you would think. Not just the trial and the law but oh my god! your fellow cross section of australian society jurors! As I had young children at the time I would’ve qualified for an exemption but NO WAY!! By the way, I am trying to say I absolutely know where you are coming from, not trying to rub it in!

  2. davidrochester said,

    I’m always amused by the concept of a jury of one’s peers. I, for one, am without peer.

  3. Elvis said,

    Di, there is always sitting in the gallery. You aren’t as special as a juror (and you don’t get paid), but its equally fascinating, you can write about it and you can grab a coffee during boring legal arguments.

    Ps – City2Surf sub 70?

  4. Simonne said,

    Hilarious! These are the sorts of conversations my husband and I have (that invariably end in total hysterics). I can so see your curiosity, though. I got THE letter once, but my work wouldn’t let me go 😦

  5. doctordi said,

    Green with envy, Kate. Green.

    I think it’s your modesty I like best, David.

    Elvis – long time no comment! Welcome back! Yes, I have thought about that, but that just seems like skiving when I should be writing, whereas if you’re on the jury, well, you’ve gotta be there, it’s perfectly legitimate and not a sophisticated avoidance tactic at all. But tempting if I get writer’s block. City2Surf sub 70 is feeling unlikely given I haven’t been able to run for the past month post-laparoscopy… but we’ll talk.

    Simonne, those bastards!! How could they deny you?! And glad to know we’re not the only ones!

  6. Pete said,

    I can just see the lawyers going “a novelist? her imagination will run wiiiild! Next …” But I think you would be a great juror because you take notice of all the details and I would love to read your account of it, right down to the all the whacky characteristics of your fellow jurors. Watching from the gallery is just not the same.

  7. doctordi said,

    I don’t think I get to call myself a novelist, Pete, but thank you, I hope to claim that as my occupation one fine day! And I agree it would be a forum rich with creative potential… I also agree that sitting in the public gallery just doesn’t quite cut it. I want to be in the back room. Badly.

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