My Wife, Merlin, and Jury Duty

Merlin wizard hi-res stock photography and images - Alamy

“You should’ve seen me last month! I’m a whole month younger now!”

Patty got a note yesterday from the New Jersey court system:

“You are no longer required to report for jury service.” That’s good news. Who wants to schlepp off to New Brunswick every day?

And: “If your present situation changes, you may be eligible for jury service in the future.”

Now it was said of Merlin that he aged backwards, growing younger instead of older. That’s how he was able to predict the future: our future was his past. He’d already been there.

My wife has become ineligible for jury service on account of her age. So, yes, her present situation will change; in fact, it changes every second. We all do. Moment by moment, we all get older. Unlike Merlin.

How is her present situation supposed to change? Do they think she will grow younger? I’d love to listen in on those deliberations.

“Dear Prospective Juror: There is always the chance that you’ll start aging backward instead of forward. When and if that happens, please notify us so we can put you back in the jury pool.”

They speak as though it’s happened before. I wonder…

8 comments on “My Wife, Merlin, and Jury Duty

  1. Ah, the joys of bureaucracy, where no one ever reviews form letters to see whether they make sense in a given case.

    I once received such a letter from a local VA vet center, where I’d been assaulted by one of their staff and had filed an official report about it: The letter said nothing about the assault, and it concluded: “Thank you for your interest in the Vet Center. Our goal is to provide the highest quality services to all the veterans we serve.” As traumatized as I’d been by the assault, I couldn’t help bursting out laughing when I read that. I even called up two of my male veteran friends (whom I’d told about the assault) and read it to them — and they burst out laughing as well.

    In case you’re wondering, no, the assault was not of particularly high quality, and no, they never did anything about the bozo who’d assaulted me. When the facility manager told him someone had filed a report against him; he said, “I quit” and walked out. Then they told me they no longer had any jurisdiction over him and they had no idea where he was but they’d heard he’d left town. (Your tax dollars at work, by the way.) I spent two years trying to get someone to find him and charge him, with no luck. But there’d been no permanent physical damage, and continuing to file reports and badger the authorities just made the whole thing an ongoing trauma for me. So I finally gave up. But I’ll never forget that letter.

    This is one of the reasons why, when people ask me if I use the VA, I respond, “I’d rather die in the street.”

    1. The thought of anyone assaulting you makes me really mad! How does someone like that get hired in the first place?

  2. This reminds me of the time that I made an appointment with the Social Security office to correct a typographic error in my account. I got a letter, a few days later, denying my request for benefits. I hadn’t requested benefits, and was wondering if I was the victim of an attempt at identity theft. No, the geniuses in my nearest Social Security office just send that to anyone who contacts them.

    1. IMO, someone who would make such an irresponsible decision needs to start at the bottom, and work their way up, because they’ve obviously missed something important, along the way.

  3. I have a tail about Jury Duty. Sit back, and enjoy.

    Jury Duty. Ah yes, I remember my last time. I was sitting idly in the jury box with eleven of my peers, when they brought in the defendant. He was accompanied by his liar, shyster… (AKA lawyer). He was wearing a dirty, worn-out, black leather jacket, had gold chains hanging about his neck, and was covered in gang tattoos. His beady, red eyes glared out from behind a curtain of black, greasy hair that hung down over his forehead (the defendant, not the attorney). He really looked guilty, so, obviously, he was. My immediate thought was why waste a lot of time hearing useless evidence when this beady-eyed guy is guilty. So right away, to help speed things along, I started yelling, “guilty, guilty, guilty!”

    This really upset the bailiff, who immediately came in my direction. It also rattled the judge, who was now pounding his gavel like Woody Woodpecker on oak as he shouted, “Order in the court! Order in the court!”

    Well, I had just eaten, so why would I order more cuisine? Anyway, along with the bailiff, who was now almost close enough to pounce, two extra-large, menacing-looking sheriff’s deputies with nightsticks in hand quickly moved in my direction. The bailiff was the first to reach me.

    By this time, I was standing on top of the jury box railing, screaming, “Off with his head! Off with his head!” With all this excitement the adrenaline was really flowing, which gave me a strength I did not know I possessed. I easily picked up the bailiff, who was just a wisp of a man, and flung him across the courtroom. I guess it is true that the smaller they are the farther they fly. Hopefully, they will replace him with a bigger guy next time.

    Unfortunately for the bailiff, the window did not stop his flight (I always thought the windows in courtrooms were bullet- proof), and he went right on through. He was probably glad we were on the first floor.

    The next thing I knew, all 750 pounds of sheriff’s deputies were kneeling on my back with their knees poking out of my chest. My arms were then twisted behind my back like pretzels, and I was subdued. A muzzle—tailor-made for those who speak out of turn in the courtroom—was placed across my face, and a straitjacket that fit firmly in all the right places was found and quickly strapped onto my body. Then, while I was still thrashing about, kicking like a jackass, loudly uttering unintelligible sentences because of the restrictive muzzle (but thinking of words that should not be spoken in front of your mother), they prepared to haul me away.

    But before I could be dragged away to face my fate, news of the bedlam at the courthouse had already leaked out, and teams of expressionless news reporters with their camera crews were there to record the whole process for posterity.

    I lay sleeping peacefully in the cell they had tossed me into the day before when I felt strong hands grab me and rudely shake me awake. They then shoved me out into the daylight to be sent to a more secure and distant location.

    Judging by the large turnout, it seemed that most of Wisconsin’s sheriffs’ departments, along with a few members of Milwaukee’s elite S.W.A.T. team, were there to give their blessings, say their goodbyes, and help expedite my departure. The army reserve was even invited and had brought a few Bradley troop carriers to the event, just in case. I also thought I heard the rumble of an M1 Abrams battle tank, but maybe not. Too bad though, for a short burst from their 50-caliber machine gun would have been a grand gesture and a great final tribute.

    I felt honored to have made the top spot on the Fox local news channel that evening, and there was even an honorable mention on the international news scene. However, even though I am now a man of some reputation (and notoriety), I have never been invited back.

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