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Jury Duty, Day 1

When I got up this morning, I had two immediate concerns about jury duty.

First, I was worried about parking. I addressed that by arriving early at the jurors' parking lot just south of the courthouse. Really early. There were all kinds of open spaces.

My second concern had to do with a troublesome twinge in a tooth. I am a total baby about dental stuff. So “It will go away” was not the only scenario I envisioned.

What if I found myself selected for a jury and then experienced a knee-buckling toothache midway through a trial? That would not be good.

In the end, that did not turn out to be a problem. But the fact I have watched too much TV might have been my undoing.

I was in a group of 35 prospective jurors ushered into the courtroom of the Honorable Annette S. Plese. Assuming the trial made it to the finish line, 12 of us would decide a case about receiving a stolen car.

The judge asked us some questions. Then the prosecutors, addressing us as a group and occasionally individually, asked more questions.

One of the two prosecutors asked if I intended to write about the trial. I said I planned to blog about jury duty. She seemed to take that as a “No.”

The defense attorney asked if any of us had, when we processed into the courtroom, wondered what the defendant was accused of. I raised my hand. Asked to elaborate, I said I remembered being curious.

If I had to guess, I'd say that sank my chances of being selected.

You see, the defendant is African-American. The defense attorney could have understandably decided “That prospective juror walked in, saw my client and decided he was a criminal. How did he even know my client was the accused?”

Well, I'll tell you. I noticed that only one of the four people at the lawyers table was not dressed as a lawyer. Plus, decades of watching “Perry Mason” had taught me where the defendant sits. And that's where the defendant was seated.

But I guess I wouldn't have picked me for the jury either.

Q6's Sean Owsley was in my group. He didn't get selected either. Though, in his behalf, I have to note that he did not say anything that made him sound like someone possibly dabbling in profiling.

Those of us who were dismissed were sent home for the day shortly before noon.

I have to call this afternoon after 5:30 to find out if my services will be needed tomorrow.

I'm still replaying in my mind my answer to the “Did you wonder what he was accused of?” question. I can see how, in context, it might have sounded sketchy.

But I had wondered, and it's my understanding that you are supposed to tell the truth in court.

On to Day 2.

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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