Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Short Story: The Jury Pool


31 Stories in 31 Days of July Challenge, here is #9...

 The Jury Pool


Holding the notice firmly in his hand he opened the doors with a deep breath and entered, there were two police officers working security. He had to step through a metal frame and then was ushered on. There were two elevators and these other people were going to same place as he was, they were also in the jury pool. He was Potential Juror #36.

After leaving the elevator on the third floor he followed the others left and then left again. This hallway was lined with benches and there were many people seated on them. They would have to wait until they were called to the courtroom.

A woman came out to greet them. She said she was the clerk of the court, she was carrying a large cup of coffee. “Everyone is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed today, I think” she said to some chuckles. She certainly was! She looked like a squirrel on drugs with all the energy that entails.

A table in front of the doors into the courtroom was now being manned by two women, the squirrel and a toadstool with a mischievous smile, they had papers and called the jury pool to line up to prove their membership in the pool. In exchange they were handed a chip. Potential Juror #36 looked at the chip in his hand, it seemed unremarkable, so he slipped it into his pocket. They were told that these chips were very important to the process.

Finally they were ushered inside. The bailiff looked like a bulldog, sort of a young, fat and happy bulldog. They asked the members of the pool to sit because the judge was on his way, in the meantime they were arranged by their jury pool number.

Now he was sitting behind a balding man who incessantly talked politics. That woman running for President was a yapping Yorkshire terrier and you can't trust her, the man told the younger potential juror and captive audience next to him. He also complained about the television personality Bill, the platypus who claimed to have no spin but had a lot.

Finally they were bid to rise for the judge. He entered in his robe carrying a mallet and there double-takes because his head was that of a giant frog. Potential juror 36 looked around and nobody seemed to find this odd at all. He just saw a bunch of bored and antsy people.

The frog judge introduced himself “Hello, I am presiding judge of the 702nd district court. To get right down to it, we'll thin out this herd. If any of you are over 70, you can be excused.”

Nobody got up.

“If any of you are the primary care-giver to a child under 12, and you cannot arrange anything, you are excused.”

Nobody got up.

Judge frog sighed, he seemed put out by this. “If any of you have a medical condition that precludes serving on this Grander Jury, you can be excused”

Again, nobody got up.

The judge seemed disappointed.

“If any of you are police officers, lawyers, judges, bailiffs or have ever been convicted of a felony, then you are excused from serving on this here jury in this here county”

Nobody got up.

The judge sniffed and checked a sheet of paper, holding a monocle to one eye. “If you are being sued or are suing someone, you might be excused” he told them.

A few people did get up. One was a younger man in a pink polka-dotted shirt, another was a pretty well-known goat and CEO of a construction company-businesses were always the target of frivolous lawsuits it seemed.

They were both brought before the judge. The CEO was not excused because he was not being personally sued but the young man was allowed to go. Before that though, they were told to toss their chips to the judge. He caught them in his giant frog mouth and chewed them satisfactorily.

With that out of the way the judge went back to addressing the jury pool. “A Grander Jury is not like a Petite Jury. It only takes 9 of 12 members to send a case brought before them to trial, they do not find defendants guilty or not guilty. You will come here and serve once a month for six months if you are chosen and will be paid $40 for each of those days.”

There were nods and some chatting.

“Okay, it looks like I will have to choose the twelve jurors randomly” the giant frog judge said, “When your name is called you will throw me your chips on the way to the jury box. Today is the first of the six days you will be serving, by the way”

The bailiff had to bark at the jury pool because people started chatting again. “Quiet Please”

“Juror #7” he called and a flamingo with gray hair, a pink purse and a matching parasol walked toward the jury box, only pausing to throw the chip at the judge who snatched it without any trouble.

“Juror #14” he called out and a tomcat of unremarkable appearance wearing a blue t-shirt tossed his chip to the judge and climbed into the box,

The judge called out ten others. None of them were potential juror #36 who was a bit disappointed but it was no big thing to him. All of those not called had to drop their chips into the box by the door on the way out. He glanced back while in the line to leave and the goat was talking to the judge, he had been called last to serve.

“I already gave you my chip” he told the judge “I explained that my business was being sued and you said it would not preclude me serving”

“Not good enough” the judge said, then he bent over and swallowed the goat whole. “Bailiff, go and fetch an alternate juror before they all leave”. Juror #36 was the only one who hadn't left yet. The process had been interesting until then.

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