Thursday, October 16, 2008

And I Thought Jet Lag Was Bad . . .

In my last entry, I described jet lag as an evil, energy-sapping force of nature.  I have discovered something that is a close second:  jury duty.  The Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights dictates that we have "the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury . . ." 

Although I am well aware that jury duty is my civic obligation, I’m still annoyed that I had to be there today.  This complaint may seem a bit hypocritical since I took an entire month off to vacation in Japan and haven't worked in six weeks.  But now I must work, and I can't afford to be stuck on a trial.  I showed up at the New York State Supreme Court in lower Manhattan before the appointed time of 8:45am.  My thought process was that I would suffer through today and tomorrow and hope that no one selected me for a trial.  If I were unfortunate enough to be selected, I would simply tell the judge that I am unavailable next week.  That plan was squashed in minutes when the clerk, as if she could read my mind, told the group that rolling the dice and hoping you wouldn't get picked wouldn't work.  I even spoke to her directly, describing the fluid nature of my freelance job and that I don't get paid if I don't work, and that I can't turn down work in anticipation of serving on a 10-day trial that may never happen, and blah, blah, blah.  Although she was quite nice, she would have none of it.  She informed me of my options - none of which I found satisfactory - and told me that eventually I would have to serve, whether it is this week or another week of my choosing.  She suggested I return to the room and watch the "film" (I think it was shot on video) and take a few minutes to think about how I wanted to proceed.  I decided to proceed to the other courthouse to reschedule.

Allow me to digress and discuss this "film" I mentioned earlier.  It is an orientation (propaganda) video that tells the story of how the jury system was created and tries to make us feel guilty for loathing the idea of serving as a juror.  The New York State Court System should consider updating the video because Ed Bradley, the video's host and narrator, has been dead for almost two years.  That bothers me.

Anyway, I was rescheduled by the second nice but unsympathetic woman of the morning to March 16, which is an awful time to be stuck with jury duty.  But there really isn't a good time to do this, especially if one is a freelancer in the sports television business. While it's easy for me to feel sorry for myself in this situation, I know that I'm not alone.  At least the jury system has been in place in the U.S. since the country's inception, unlike Japan, which will introduce juries next year.  I'm sure that will be a mess.

I ended up having the day to myself, which is a good thing.  Now I'll put the agony of jury duty behind me.  Until I have to think about it again in five months.

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