Whew. What a life.

centerhall

Things are swirling back into high gear after the holidays. Happy New Year, now full throttle back up to speed!

Yesterday I was called for jury duty, but I didn’t get picked to sit. I am still on call every night, but today I get to teach.

I love jury duty. We were in the beautiful brand-new Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Federal Courthouse. It was an amazing building, as you can see by the photographs. That first shot is a center light shaft that bottoms out over the cafeteria! This is the outside.

outsidebuilding

I re-read the first six issues of Promethea, and turned a couple new friends on to her brilliant translation of such deep arcane wisdom. The case I almost got on was a simple drug case, and if I would have gotten picked it would have been the fourth time I have served as a juror.

Twenty years ago I sat on a case where an older woman was suing the City of West Miami, saying that there was a hole in the sidewalk that caused her injuries. I was the foreperson on that jury, and the woman had previously sued stores, restaurants, and hospitals. She could have walked around the hole, which was not even on the sidewalk. We decided that she did not deserve any monetary settlement, but one Cuban gentleman said he could not go home to his family if we gave her nothing. So we gave her 5% of her initial doctor’s visit. A total of twenty dollars. Ouch.

Six years later, I sat in the jury box to reach a verdict on a Miami Vice styled drug bust. The cops had 20 kilos of cocaine in an airplane at the airport that they had intercepted when it landed from Columbia. The defendant agreed to buy it, we heard the phone calls. The cops got him to agree to give them his car to put the drugs in the trunk. They installed a kill switch on his engine with a remote control. They gave him his car at rush hour and had a tow truck right behind him to repossess the vehicle and its illicit content as soon as they shut off the engine. Ouch.

The third was murder, in 1999. Stabbed 63 times. As tragic as it was, the defendant was a comedy of errors. He loaded 8 bags of bloody mess in his car. He got a can of gasoline. He drove behind some bushes by a golf course. He unloaded the bags and soaked them with gas. He patted his pockets… no lighter. Double ouch.  He went to a nearby gas station and asked for a pack of matches. He started the fire about 50 yards from a local street. The fire department arrived 20 minutes later. They stopped the flames and noticed some paperwork… his electric bill, his credit card statement, etc. Triple ouch.

So, I am hoping to sit on another jury this week. It is a fascinating way to study humanity. It makes me feel bigger, being part of our magnificent justice system. It also gives me a great excuse to read comic books. Keep your fingers crossed.

insidecourtroom

No more time to write, good luck with the fast life in 2009!

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2 Comments

Filed under Rambles

2 responses to “Whew. What a life.

  1. Rob - RD52169

    Jury duty sounds cool, but how does it feel to be in court with a murderer?

    I think I would feel disgust and hate towards him, but I wouldnt want to make my verdict biased. I would want to be truthful and accurate.

    It can’t be comfortable sitting there knowing the terrible things that were done.

  2. It was actually very interesting, especially studying my own reactions.

    It was tragic, intense, messy, and ugly.

    Yet the murderer engaged in such a comedy of errors that it was difficult not to smile sometimes at his stupidity.

    I guess I never quite allowed myself to feel the magnitude of the crime, as you describe it. I needed to stay cool and objective to make a fair judgement.

    He was obviously guilty from the evidence, but we did debate first-or-second degree for a short while. The fact that he actually got a second knife after the first one broke? That proved first degree.

    With the laws in Florida, he will never come out of jail.

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