For some, Jury Duty is not a big deal. You have to call in, maybe go, and probably be done in a day or two. But we all know the kind of luck I have. My “hopefully only 2 days” turned into a 14 day trial. That’s 3 weeks in “business day” time. Or a whole lot of income lost. Or a whole of time spent sitting on my ass.
When we first walked in for jury selection, I thought I was for sure not going to get picked. It was a civil suit against Kid Rock for (allegedly) beating up some photographers outside a nightclub in 2006 or something. Correction: it was (allegedly) members of his posse. Allegedly. I thought, “Well all I have to do is tell them I work at a newspaper and I’m golden. They won’t want someone who works in the media on the jury. Plus, I’m smart. They will know that I will see through all the bull and they won’t want me. ”
I was wrong. Contrary to what everyone says, they didn’t want the simple, uneducated people with no opinions. They wanted the educated professionals who could think for themselves and make intelligent decisions. Son of a bitch. Every single person on the jury with me was smart and opinionated and willing to argue, not to mention at least 10 years older than me. (This made deliberations SUPER fun.)
Now, when you’re on a trial, it’s not like what you see on TV. It’s rarely exciting and it usually involves sitting around outside the courtroom while they go over motions and things like that. Then, when you’re actually in the box, there are still a lot of sidebars and "going into chambers." At least when you’re in the hallway, you can read. Not in The Box. You have to just sit and wait for them to come out of chambers. You can’t even make inappropriate jokes that have nothing to do with the trial to the jurors around you, otherwise you’ll get a stern scolding from the judge. (Ask me how I know.)
You might think that a trial involving Kid Rock was exciting. You’d be wrong. It was boring. There was a ton of testimony about things like where the sidewalk ends and the hotel begins, where the limo was parked, if you can see out of the windows of a limo("Well it was kind of dark and I mean, I had knocked back a few." I had no idea knocking back a few meant you went blind!), how cameras can be on a limo floor with no one seeing them, and why every single person had a different memory of the event. From 4 years ago. It was torture.
Deliberations in cases like this are much harder than criminal trials. They aren’t just “guilty or not guilty.” They are “did this person intend to harm this person” and “if that person did not intend to harm this person, did he still harm this person" and "was this person working under the assumed guidance of Kid Rock." It’s a lot of legal crap. Plus, when it comes down to deciding damages, how do you put a monetary value on “emotional distress”? It took us 3 days to finish everything and, by the end of it, we were all exhausted. I got elected foreperson (of friggin course) and, when, after reading the War and Peace length verdict, the judge said we had to come back the next day, I almost burst into tears. I had just spent three days playing mediator with a roomful of adults, some of whom were old enough to be my grandparents, and now I had to come back and play referee again???
When we came in the next day, the judge informed us that the “matter has been settled over lunch.” I was a mixture of indignation and liberation. I was finally free! But I just spent 14 days trying to solve this and they do it over LUNCH?! You’ve got to be kidding me! (Btw...we all agreed that the photographers had been beaten up and had their cameras stolen, but we had some trouble decided to what degree Kid Rock was actually involved. So we said that he should just pay the photographers medical bills and that's it. It took us 3 days to come to that and these guys figure it out over lunch. Bastards.)
A few days (and a whole lot of relaxing and not thinking) later, I went onto TMZ and found out that the photographers got $35,000. It wasn’t much, but it was more than we were willing to give them, so I got even angrier. They put me through 14 days of hell so they could see what we’d be willing to give them and then settle outside of court??? I wanted to track down the lawyers and slap both of them across the face. Or ask that they pay me for the 3 weeks of work I missed. Take your pick.
The trial wasn’t all bad. I did catch Kid Rock looking down my shirt when he was on the witness stand. But that’s another story….