A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003 :::
Jury Duty...The Nature Conservancy...Stopped up Noses...

Dodging the Bullet. A Mind That Suits was empaneled but not chosen for a jury. For those of you who have not performed this vital but intensely annoying civic duty, you are empaneled when they call you out of the waiting room. For 12 jurors and 2 alternates they may ask for 30, 60, or 200 jurors. You then go through "voir dire," which the judge in this case defined as "to speak the truth," but the truth is it means "to see, to speak" in French. The jury is a distinctly English legal institution, but it came into being at a time when French was the official language of England. (There was a war involved, of course.) It means they look at you and ask you questions and reject you if you are lucky.

The judge asked for a panel rather late yesterday. He kept only those people who had some compelling reason not to be on a jury, such as a religious objection, and asked the rest of us to come back this morning at 10:00. A Mind That Suits was a bad boy, and showed up at 10:02, only to find the rest of the jurors sitting around cooling their heals. Although a bathroom break would have been nice (as A Mind That Suits has nothing but a latte and a large glass of water for breakfast), he too cooled his heals until everyone was called back in.

The judge appeared to be in a foul mood, but he was a stately gentleman, as befits a judge, and he spoke very politely. He apologized for the delay, and thanked us for our dedication. A Mind That Suits knew immediately that all the words would ultimately issue in his dismissal, but he restrained his joy out of respect for the judge. Things happen in a court room, said His Honor, that are not under the control of a judge. In this case, the defendant had apparently conceived a profound dislike for his counsel, court appointed, and asked for a new lawyer. The judge therefore declared a mistrial and let us go.

Now, of course, the judge was upset because he had a very good system for voir dire that involved forms rather than the traditional method, in which the judge asks a question, everyone answering YES stands, and a clerk writes down your seat number. More importantly, he wanted to impress upon the accused that these tactics would not be tolerated ad infinitum, and so he took a long time to say we were free. We, out of respect for the judge and fear of some kind of reprimand that would leave us in the court house for even five more minutes than we wanted, tried to restrain our joy, and we to a large extent succeeded. One lady picked up her jacket at the words "I must dismiss you," but aside from that, we played our part.

A Mind That Suits has been called up 5 times in 15 years, meaning he is doing somewhat better than the minimum two year break between turns. He has now served on two juries, been rejected twice, and been part of a mistrial. In fact, he wishes that he would get called up during one of his breaks, so he could serve on a major crime case, just to see what it is like, and the percentages are working in his favor. The DC Courts just need to call him during his long break in August.

One final note: The DC government is notorious for its inefficiencies and cruelties. A Mind That Suits finds his experiences split evenly. Sometimes he encounters a person trying desperately to do the right job, other times he encounters a monster. The officers of the DC courts are of course appointed by the judges, not the District government, and he has never had an experience there that was anything other than perfect. The staffers are all highly efficient and very, very good with the public. Marion Barry is responsible for the state of the rest of the government. An encounter with your typical Court Clerk in DC makes it clear that there is no rational reason that the rest of the government is so badly staffed.

But We Were Just Saving the Planet. The Mansion is an Accidental Side-benefit The Washington Post has had an excellent series of articles on the failures of the Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy has made a number of moves that appear to benefit their board members or otherwise work against their stated aims. It is the kind of thing that the Post does very well, and they have done it again.

Can You Breathe? A Mind That Suits has a congenital problem with his nose, particularly his sinuses, and he used to spend several weeks out of the year on pseudephedrine (the active incredient in Sudafed) and doing everything he could so he can breathe. Pseudephedrine is not good for gentlemen over 40, which A Mind That Suits most emphatically is. It has to do with an increased desire for water and a decreased ability to get rid of it. A friend told A Mind That Suits that his doctor recommended using as little medecine as possible--say, normal strength pseudephedrine, not extra strength--and drinking lots of water to keep everything moving. It works. A Mind That Suits prefers zinc lozenges (like Cold-eeze) right at the first sign of a cold rather than pseudephedrine, for obvious reasons, but the basic plan really works. My corner grocery expects I will buy a gallon of water 6 days out of 7, and it is money well spent.

So if you are always stopped up, there's a possible solution.

Until tomorrow....

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 6:42 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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