I was called to jury duty recently. Criminal court. Like a good little citizen, I show up and do the waiting game. I finally get called to a court and we end up having to fill out a form with personal information on it. No big deal. As with most people, I don’t like it, but I deal with it. The questions were pretty basic: Ever been convicted of a crime; how many children do you have; ever been the victim or know someone who was the victim of a crime.
We’re called back the next afternoon. Most people settle for a collective groan but nothing more. After all, we understand it’s our duty and bitching about it isn’t going to get us anywhere. Except for Mr. Martinez. (And before someone starts bitching that I’m picking on Mexicans, his name was Martinez.)
Mr. Martinez throws a fit to the bailiff, telling him he was supposed to take a flight and demanding to know who was going to pay for his international ticket. Of course, the bailiff can’t do anything but ask him to wait until everyone leaves so he can talk to the judge.
What a surprise. Mr. Martinez was waiting outside the courtroom with the rest of us the next day. We go in; have a seat; and the prosecution introduces the case and the defendant. This was a horrible case to be on - child sexual assault. I definitely didn’t want to hear this one. Most of the people in the room surely didn’t. But only Mr. Martinez consistently made a jackass of himself regarding it.
Case in point. At one point, the prosecutor showed a Powerpoint slide that had the names of the two victims on it. They were boys. They were under 14 years old (we knew that because of the charges).
Mr. Martinez raised his hand and asked, “Are those the names of the two victims?”
Mr. Martinez: “Well, that’s just sick.”
And this after the prosecutor took pains to explain the importances of innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor got visibly angry at Mr. M.
Prosecutor: “What if the judge called the case to trial, and I stood up and said, ‘The state rests, Your Honor.’ What would you as a juror decide the defendant is?”
Mr. Martinez: “Guilty.”
Prosecutor (almost yelling): “No! Innocent.”
Mr. Martinez: “No, he’s guilty. That’s just sick.”
Mr. Martinez also went to great pains to mention his three girls, but when the defense attorney brought forth the form he’d filled out the previous day, he asked why no children were listed. Martinez claimed it was because it was none of their business. I don’t know at which point Martinez was lying, but he should be grateful the judge didn’t find him in contempt.
Gods, but I hate assholes. Nearly fifty people were called to that courtroom. Any one of us had about a 25% chance of being called. Most of us left that evening without ever having made an ass of ourselves. We simply answered questions honestly and hoped we weren’t the ones chosen.
Out in the hallway, while the lawyers were choosing their jurors, I had the misfortune to have Mr. Martinez sit on the same bench I was on. After he made his first stupid comment, I moved across the hall, muttering about his stupidity rubbing off on me. Yes, he was aware of my reaction.
Later, another woman was sort of joking and chatting in general to the people around, including Mr. Martinez. She looked at me and said, “Did you see how he was acting yesterday?”
I said, with a look of sheer disgust on my face as I stared at him, “No, but I saw him today.”
After he later expressed that, “Well, at least I have an opinion on the matter,” I did get to sneer at him and say, “Yeah. Some people don’t need facts. They have opinions.”
It’s so rare for me to publicly insult someone, but boy did he piss me off.
OK, I feel better about getting that off my chest.