Annals of Justice, Division of Jury Duty

Next case: Medical malpractice! The hand of fate reached into the hat and pulled out 25 names at random. As each name was read off, its owner stood.  I was number 24.

Surveys were distributed. There were scores if not hundreds of names of individuals and institutions.  Did we know any of them? If so, in what capacity?  Once again, a couple were known to me, but it would take an interview to impart this critical bit of information. One o’clock stole upon us.  What Wodehouse describes as that not unpleasant feeling of emptiness that is the silent luncheon gong of the soul had sounded.  We had 60 minutes to heed its call.  I made my way to the 2nd floor, which advertised a cafeteria.  I saw to my dismay that, in my case, at least, that sensation of emptiness was going to have to be prolonged.  I surmised that a “Bubba Burger” was not calculated to please the Kimball palate. I made my way sadly back upstairs and waited. And waited. Potential Juror Number 1 was interviewed. Ten minutes later, it was Number 2’s turn.  Some more time passed.  It was about 3:00 p.m. when Number 14 was called, 4:00 before they got to Number 20.  I was reading with relish about how Cicero, when consul, had summarily dispatched Lentulus and several other Catiline conspirators, ordering them dropped into a hole in the state prison in the Forum and strangled. Efficient, I thought. (What would he have done with drones?)

4:30 came. The once bustling room was occupied now by myself, slouched unhappily in my chair, and a woman who paced back and forth in her hat and coat, muttering into her cell phone and eying the clock plaintively.  Barbara popped her head into the room. “Is someone still in there?” she asked. Neither my pacing partner in melancholy nor I had the will to answer that rhetorical question. Barbara padded over to the interview room for a word with the Perry Masons inside.  “You can go,” she proclaimed magnificently on her return: the pacer and I, presumably, would be granted our audience on Monday. It was now 4:50.  Eight hours and twenty minutes.  The “Sons of Anarchy” was a nice touch.  And the “Happy Birthday” lady offered a moment’s amusement.  The awful power of state had commanded the presence of some 100 citizens.  Most were freed within a couple hours. A few of us were less lucky. Was it the wheels of justice we heard grinding away, or merely the wheels of the hypertrophied state apparatus masquerading as justice?