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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Other Peoples’ Trials, Other People’s Troubles

It’s been said that on definition of comedy is Other Peoples’ Troubles. A jury duty assignment this week allowed me to test the theory, and I found that Other Peoples’ Troubles can be pretty boring. I was one of two alternate jurors in a DUI case. I have no idea why the defendant plead innocent and relied on an attorney from the Public Defender’s Office to explain to us the jury how his client was sober 45 minutes before maintaining a blood alcohol level above 0.10% over a period of three hours. Especially when it was painfully obvious that this guy was lit like a lamp when he was caught driving. I didn’t hang around for the sentencing, since I had seen enough of the courthouse by that time. I suspect the penalty was harsh.

Anyway, as an alternate juror, the trial, from every perspective imaginable, was definitely in the category of Other Peoples’ Problems. I wasn’t facing penalties, I was pretty sure I would not be given the burden of weighing evidence to determine guilt or innocence, and the jury takes no part in sentencing. Therefore, my role was more or less to answer some questions during the jury selection process, be invisible during the trial, watch and listen during testimony, take notes, and hang around the courthouse while the jury deliberated.

I attempt to make every new experience an opportunity from learning, even when the knowledge comes in the form of a negative object lesson. Here’s what I learned. Note number (4) may actually be useful.

(1) If you intend to drive while drinking, keep your car in good repair in general. More specifically, do not stop your car in a traffic lane on a busy highway bridge and have your engine start on fire. It is very difficult to be inconspicuous in this situation.
(2) If you have a cell phone, and your vehicle is on fire, call 911. Watching your vehicle burn and not calling in can raise suspicion. Other drivers will call within minutes. You will be found out anyway.
(3) When a law enforcement officer asks you if you have recently been drinking, do not, I repeat do not, tell the officer that you had three gins, but you waited about a half hour before driving, so everything is OK. The law enforcement community probably doesn’t buy into your theories of prospective sobriety.
(4) When the officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests (straight line walking, balancing and all that business), advise the officer that you have disabilities. This will detract from the credibility of any derogatory test results, and the law enforcement community lives in fear of ADA related Civil Rights Lawsuits. You will not have another chance to try this rationalization. This probably won’t help if you subsequently flunk a blood alcohol test, but why not go for the longshot?
(5) Do not stumble against a wall when you are asked to stand on one foot.
(6) Do not allow your attorney to tell a story about a mediaeval archer as the closing statement.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Okay, we're hooked - what kind of story about an archer would a lawyer possibly use in a DUI case - and, as Rick says, what does it have to do with the price of kumquats in Asia?

Paula & Rick

Steve said...

The next posting should clear this up for you. My greatest respect goes to Rick, for being one of the few folks whop still adhere to the law of borcht belt schtick; "He had the IQ of a kumquat" is always funnier than "He had the intelligence of a lemon. Doubly true in Kalamazoo, Kankakee, and Sheboygan.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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