Today, I received a summons from the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, ordering me to register for jury duty. Under ordinary circumstances I would LOVE to serve on a jury: imagine the blogging possibilities! However, under ordinary circumstances, I would be living in Canada.
As it stands, I am not. Thus, before even opening the envelope, and therefore not having a clue of what was being asked of me, I was addressing to it outraged, yet noble speeches in my head, dredging up my first-year poli-sci understanding of civics: “No sir, will NOT stand to be drafted for the duties of a citizenship that I while being denied the attendant rights, upholding laws for which I’ve no franchise to ratify…” which ended, in my imagination, with the judge chastened and my fellow potential jurors applauding. Man, that jury-summons envelope got it GOOD from me.
On opening it, I was directed to a handy website on which I had to register, with the dire warning that if I did not do so by September 28th, I WOULD BE SUMMONSED AGAIN, TO APPEAR AT A LATER TIME. As threats go, seemed to be, as the kids say, weaksauce.
Once I punched in my juror i.d. number, I was greeted by a pre-recorded video featuring the senior presiding jurist (whose name escapes me already). After her assurances that I was executing my civic duty for which my fellow citizens were grateful, she concluded with a rather ominous observation that I myself might be pleading my case in front of 12 suckers just like me. The subtext: “do this right, or karma will come around to bite you.”
Once her spiel was over, I was brought to another page, which launched automatically in a countrified version of “God Bless America” along with patriotic iconography – a very MySpace touch, on a website devoted to the sober administration of justice and upholding of the law. It seemed outré that they should be trying to make this process rousing.
By this time, my imaginary speech was a tour de force indictment of the entire system: a treatise on the nature of law as a Platonic ideal that should be untainted by exclusionary nationalistic preoccupations (the contradictions of this stance with the arguments in paragraph two of this post were, I expect, to be reconciled in subsequent drafts). My reverie was interrupted when I realized that I was now being prompted to fill out a series of questions, any one of which could disqualify me. First one: “Are you a citizen of the United States.” I answered "No" and shortly thereafter…. “You are not eligible to serve.”
Honestly, I’m more than a little disappointed. It was going to be a hell of a speech.