My mother told me she got a jury duty notice for the City of St. Louis in the snail mail today.
The first time I had to do JD, again in the City of St. Louis, was in November 2001. Learning experience? You betcha. My mother and also a few other city-dwelling relatives prepared me, but they could only do so much.
When you first go into the Civil Courts Building, they direct prospective jurors to a large room on the first floor with lots of seating, with spillover space in an even larger room one level down directly underneath it.
A couple hours into sitting and waiting and feeling my brain cells die having to watch CNN, (I swore to bring reading material next time), a black woman Sheriff’s deputy (the operational security of this Court House is provided by the Sheriff’s Department in the City of St. Louis) presented herself to the assembled prospective jurors and blurted this out:
“Hey y’all. If any a’y'all been convicted of a felony, you ain’t gots to stay. Which means you can leave!”
Thanks. I could have implied “you can leave” from “you ain’t gots to stay,” bad grammar notwithstanding. Considering her target audience, I’m not surprised she had to qualify her own words.
At that moment, it seems like 40% of the people in the room, almost all of those getting up and leaving were black, did indeed get up and leave. Actually, it wasn’t so much “leave” as stampede out. I watched the whole scene, and I thought to myself, “is there a watermelon truck parked out front along Tucker that just made a last call?” Just to prove that stereotypes are usually valid, one of the felonious members of the stampeding herd yelled out as he made his way out the door, “hey y’all, I know a fried chicken place not too far away!” That in turn only served to embolden the part of the herd that had not already escaped to squeeze through the doors even quicker than they were already trying to.
It was then I realized, I was stuck inside Birth of a Nation, and I couldn’t get out.
Actually, once the herd moved on, (I wouldn’t have wanted to have been a waiter at that fried chicken joint), I actually did escape BOAN. It wasn’t that much longer before I and a few dozen others was called to a higher floor to take appraisal of our case. Of course, it was a car wreck lawsuit. For as much crime as there is in the City of St. Louis, most criminal cases are pled out. Most of the work for trials and juries in the St. Louis City-based state circuit are civil cases where the plaintiffs’ attorneys from all over God’s Creation venue shop the matter to a jurisdiction known for stupid jurors that like to stick big civil judgments to “the man.” And from what I saw, it would be even worse in that respect if felons were allowed to be jurors.
I didn’t make it on that actual jury that day.
Twelve bucks not very well earned.