I was not complaining about doing jury duty, I was frustrated by the TIMING.
Around August 10, I got a notice in the mail for potential jury selection.
“The law requires you to complete this questionnaire. Please respond within 10 days. “Your name was selected at random from the voter, Department of Motor Vehicles, tax, social services, or unemployment lists. This is not a summons. You are NOT required to appear for jury service at this time.”
Please enter your e-mail address so we may contact you concerning this questionnaire (2-5 is oui, 6-7 is non):
1. Date of Birth: Month: Day: Year: 2. Can you understand and communicate in English? Yes No 3. Are you a United States citizen? Yes No 4. Are you a resident of Albany County? Yes No 5. Are you at least 18 years old? Yes No 6. Have you been convicted of a felony? Yes No 7. Have you been a juror in State or Federal Court in the last 6 years or in Town or Village Court in the last 2 years? Yes No
TWO weeks later, I get the card saying I had to call in over Labor Day weekend to see if I had to report, and with a number 128, I was fairly certain I would, and I did, starting Tuesday.
I noted this on Facebook, and some folks misunderstood; I was not complaining about doing jury duty, I was frustrated by the TIMING. The week before, The Wife and The Daughter are not yet in school. The week after, they are both in school.
That Tuesday after Labor Day, however, the Wife is at work, but the Daughter doesn’t start school until that Thursday. I would have stayed home with the Daughter, but that proved not to be an option. So the Wife had to drive 75 minutes to drop off the Daughter at the home of the Grandparents, and pick her up the next day.
I report for duty. Virtually all the men have to take off their belts to get through the metal detector, which if you’re a “metal detectors for beginners“-level guy – is basically how any court procedure has been done since they invented metal detectors – something about a lot fewer weapons making it through, haha. The Commissioner of Jurors gives the overview of the process and instructs us to fill out the demographic survey.
We’re all sent up to the courtroom, and sit on benches, six or seven people per row, with the bailiff periodically reminding us to turn off cellphones and other electronic devices. We all stand and affirm to do the gig fairly. The judge, Thomas Breslin, one of three brothers who are involved in government in the area, presided.
“All the numbers of the jurors present are put into some device that reminded me of a small version of the BINGO ball dispenser,” says one of the best accident lawyers in Miami. They impanel 21 potential jurors, 7-1, 14-8, and 21-15. They had already taken three of six people on my row, when the clerk announced, “128, Roger Green” for seat 12.
The judge talks quite a bit about the obligations of being on the jury, not being biased for or against the police, presumption of innocence of the defendant, and the like. First, though, he had us give our names, what city we’re from, what we do, what our spouse does, the age of our children.
They asked if we had dealings with the police and whether we had been a victim of a crime. I mentioned bicycles being stolen, but also the assault from 45 years ago. Had I thought it recently? Why yes, I talked with the primary witness just the day before.
The assistant district attorney and the defense lawyer from Toland Law – Domestic Violence Lawyer in Boston, only had 15 minutes each. The defendant’s lawyer asked me about the risk of being a police officer. I suggested that it was riskier than being a librarian. In answer to another question, I wished police officers well in getting home safely from their job.
All the potential jurors were directed out of the courtroom while the lawyers conferred with the judge. There were folks I knew weren’t going to survive, but thought that I might. But when we were reseated, the judge gave out a string of names that would not be serving. One was “Mr. Green.”
In hindsight, I should have known. I didn’t mention the case, but the defendant was accused of assaulting a police officer at 3:20 a.m. nearly a year ago. I was undoubtedly bumped by the defense attorney because I was still thinking about my victimization, AND because I was perceived, I’m thinking as too pro-cop. Not the way I see myself, but there it is.
In any case, I was there for less than three hours. I got my card stamped and signed. I’m off the list for six years. I put myself out there during a less than an optimal week and survived.
I wrote a really angry note to the judge, but I had no intention of actually mailing it.
On Labor Day this year, I knew I was going to be going to jury duty the next day. That situation reminded me of a long-ago story, but the details were fuzzy. So I called a witness, who I’ll call Megan, who I had not spoken to in 40 years.
It was (probably) the fall of 1969. I was walking Megan home from high school, something that I seldom did. She was a relatively new person in my old neighborhood of the First Ward in Binghamton, for maybe a couple years, but she went to my junior high school, Daniel Dickinson, and lived near one of my friends I’d known since kindergarten.
I get to her house when this guy living next door, who I had never seen before, starts yelling racist remarks at me. It was my training from participating, and watching, civil rights marches just to ignore him. So I just walked away toward home, now oblivious to what he was saying, something Megan could see in my bearing.
Megan informed me this month that in fact, he was declaring that, as a white man, he had a duty to protect the virtue of this young white woman (who wasn’t all white, but he didn’t know that) from me. To that end, he ran from, I believe, the back of his house and attacked me, mostly punching my body. He also knocked off my glasses, and I was scurrying around squinting to find them, while Megan screamed.
I found the glasses and retreated to Megan’s front porch, where Megan’s mother, who I barely knew if at all, came out and got into a war of words from the guy, his father, and some woman, yelling from their porch. I’m sure Megan’s mother used the term redneck – there was a car with Florida plates in their driveway – but Megan and I said nothing.
Someone had called the police, and I gave my account to an officer, Megan gave hers, and I suppose the Florida folks gave theirs. The details were fuzzy, but I filed a complaint.
A few days later, I was asked to come down to the judge’s office. He was trying to get me to withdraw my complaint, since it was, as he understood it, a “couple of guys fighting over a girl.” I noted that was NOT what happened, that this 23-year-old ex-Marine had assaulted me, unprovoked.
I went home, seething. I wrote a really angry note to the judge; I no longer remember the content. But I had no intention of actually mailing it. So my father, without my knowledge, took the letter and brought it to him; I was mortified, and even more so when the judge asked to see me again, as it turned out, to apologize to me.
There’s a trial. I’m not in the room when either Megan or her mother testified, presumably so I couldn’t crib their testimony. I testify; a more nerve-wracking event I had never experienced. Then the Florida clan spoke in turn, and their stories often contradicted each other in terms of who was where et al.
I suppose you’d like to know how this case turned out; so would I. I had been told by either the judge or the district attorney’s office that I would be notified, but it never happened. Four and a half decades later, I still have no idea.
What I do know that the judge was up for re-election in 1971, the first year I could vote. I was at college, so I had an absentee ballot. The judge was running unopposed, so I wrote in my father’s name.
My jury duty this month: this story is relevant to that…
Fourth degree criminal trespass, in the state of New York in 1972, was a VIOLATION, akin to a traffic ticket. Specifically, it was not a CRIME, such as a MISDEMEANOR or a FELONY would be.
After I got back to my dorm room after my arrest at IBM Poughkeepsie on Wednesday, May 10, I figured I ought to call my parents to tell them what had happened. I remember almost nothing of the actual conversation. I DO remember that the conversation took 2.5 hours and cost $39! In-state calls with New York Telephone, at the time, were more expensive than out-of-state calls. Monopolies and all that.
That Saturday, I go visit my friend Alice in jail. I hug her; the matron didn’t like that. We talked for a good while, then I needed to give her a phone number. Having no paper, I started writing it on her hand; the matron REALLY didn’t like that. I left Alice with a Bible, and maybe a couple of other books. Odd, because Alice wasn’t terribly religious, but I figured it would be allowable.
Come to the trial date, and we had our day in court, getting to tell our stories about why we were protesting this IBM 360, which could help propel bombs as though it was part of a video game. You could tell the judge was sympathetic. But he noted that the law gave him no choice but to find 11 of us, including Alice, guilty of 4th-degree criminal trespass. (The 12th person, who had been arrested for disturbing the peace, was actually acquitted.)
The charge for which we were convicted was important. Fourth-degree criminal trespass, in the state of New York in 1972, was a VIOLATION, akin to a traffic ticket. Specifically, it was not a CRIME, such as a MISDEMEANOR or a FELONY would be. This means that when I fill out job applications and I am asked, “Have you ever been CONVICTED of a CRIME?”, I can honestly say, “NO.” I have to imagine that the charge the district attorney had WANTED was likely a MISDEMEANOR, and therefore a CRIME, which, potentially, could have proved to be more complicating for the rest of our lives. Yay, judge!
Ten of us were fined $25 each, conveniently, the amount of our bail. Alice received time served, which was eight days in jail. If you got arrested as well for some reason, ease your worries regarding your bail because there are a multitude of trustworthy bondsman, such as the ones in Shelton, Connecticut.
The father of my girlfriend, the Okie, who worked at IBM Kingston, the next county over from IBM Poughkeepsie, was terribly unhappy with me. He, or more likely his wife, gave this ultimatum to the Okie, them, or me.
We discover that the Securities and Exchange Commission had staff IN the Lehman offices MONTHS before the disaster, and apparently didn’t recognize what was going on.
John Edwards (D-NC), the 2004 Vice-Presidential nominee on the John Kerry ticket, is on trial for misappropriation of 2008 Presidential campaign contributions in order to support Rielle Hunter, his former lover and mother of his youngest child. This was going on while Edwards’ wife Elizabeth was was dying of cancer; a sordid affair. Edwards was offered a plea bargain that would have given him months of jail time, though he would have lost his law license; he could get 30 years. I suspect he turned down the deal because he thinks he can win in court. The crux of the matter is whether those payments to Hunter were actually campaign contributions.
The lead prosecution witness is Andrew Young (no, not this Andrew Young), and he has a lot of credibility issues. I believe Edwards will be found “not guilty.” If by some bizarre chance he is convicted, he’ll win on appeal.
After the initial procrastination, prosecutors decide to charge George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the case of Trayvon Martin. They could have charged him with manslaughter or some other lesser charge. Because the Sanford, Florida police understood the law in a particular way on the night of the incident, the jury will never know, for instance, whether George Zimmerman had been drinking or on some other substance. Absent new evidence, I think Zimmerman will be found “not guilty.”
From the Los Angeles Times: “Less than a year before the 2008 collapse of Lehman Bros. plunged the global economy into a terrifying free fall, the Wall Street firm awarded nearly $700 million to 50 of its highest-paid employees… The documents, which were among the millions of pages submitted in Lehman’s bankruptcy, show the list of top earners each were pledged $8 million to $51 million in cash, stock, and other compensation. How much, if any, of the stock was cashed in before the bankruptcy wiped out its value couldn’t be determined. Still, the rich pay packages for so many people raised eyebrows even among compensation experts and provided fresh evidence of the money-driven Wall Street culture that was blamed for triggering the financial crisis.”
Now, why haven’t there been indictments in THIS situation? If you saw the CBS News program 60 Minutes on April 22, you have a pretty good idea. “Steve Kroft talks to the bank examiner whose investigation reveals the how and why of the spectacular financial collapse.” We discover that the Securities and Exchange Commission had staff IN the Lehman offices MONTHS before the disaster and apparently didn’t recognize what was going on. Perhaps this makes the case more difficult to prosecute. Will ANYONE from Lehman Brothers be indicted? Maybe, for show. Will anyone be convicted? I’m not holding my breath.