Kicking the Holiday Season Off with a Bang!

It has been…a week, to say the least.

1. It being Halloween, my daughter and her friends decided to be Scooby Doo characters and they wanted to turn my beloved golf cart into “The Mystery Machine.” I love my daughter more than life itself, so I pulled all the materials together, my wife organized a painting party, and I did the rest. They had a heckuva time. That’s mine on the right:
Marissa and Friends Halloween 2019

2. Our 84-lb Doberman tore her Cruciate (that’s an ACL in humans) while also destroying her meniscus. The result was an appallingly expensive surgery, now followed by 6 weeks of intensive eyes-on, full-time cones of shame, and hot and cold compresses followed by leg massages.

3. I built a fire Saturday night (my 4th this season) and the chimney caught on fire (inside the pipe). I was able to put it out with the fire extinguisher, but not before three (count em “3”) fire districts showed up, along with two Bam-buh-lances. I’m grateful, but it felt like overkill considering I told 911 I already had put it out. But now, I have to get everything inspected and cleaned. The interesting thing is that, while I haven’t had it actually “cleaned” in years, annually I burn one or two anti-creosote logs, and had just done one the night before. New brand. Coincidence?

4. And lastly (so far), approximately one month ago, I received a Jury Summons; something that happens about every 4 or 5 years in my county. The issue is that I live in the very tip-top end of the dominant county in Atlanta. Which means that satisfying a jury summons in my county is quite the ordeal. See, look:

Note that these drives are indicative of when I would have to drive down to arrive by 8am:

Courthouse map

I drove downtown yesterday, arriving around 7:30 at the parking lot. Caught the bus over to the courthouse, and then stood outside in the cold for 15 minutes waiting for security to open up. Another 30 minutes later and I was inside. Per the desk clerk, “We have an unprecedented number of judges wanting jurors.” Of the 8 “groups” of potential jurors selected to “potentially report for duty” (usually only about 4-6 of the 8 have to actually show up) all 8 had to report. It was packed!

That also meant that any hopes of a quick, “We don’t need you; you are free to go” was dashed. An hour later, me and 39 other potential jurors were assigned a courtroom and down we went.

Once ushered into the court room, the judge proceeded to tell us the facts as she could:

  •  This trial is expected to last 9 days (9 DAYS!)
  •  It was a medical device failure lawsuit, resulting in the death of a teen
  •  I understand everyone has issues with being away from home daily for 9 days, but we will only accept hardship requests under the following circumstances (disabilities, over 75, etc.)
  • If selected, expect to start court daily between 7:30 and 8 am and finish at 6pm.

We spent the entire morning first hearing the plaintiff’s and defense’s attorneys give a “lite” version of the case and then being questioned en-masse, raising our little paddles whenever we agree with something the lawyers on each side asked. Then, the remainder of the day was spent on individual questions. I was panelist #40, so I was dead-last.

It was a nail-biter of a day, and if you ask me, the opening attorney for the plaintiff (from the “Johnny Cochran” law firm) did a horrible job of biasing potential jurors with his opening remarks, and a very smart young lady to my left in the jury pool–whose dad was a lawyer as were several others in her family–called him out on it. When it was my turn to respond to questions, I was only too happy to join her chorus when asked, “Do you believe that starting out, the plaintiff and defense are on equal footing?”

My answer: “I do not. Based on the facts laid out by the plaintiff’s attorney, I already have some idea of how I might view the case even before it starts. I also believe it takes an extraordinary person to be able to completely set aside their personal beliefs and bias and judge something solely on its newly-presented merit. If Facebook has taught us anything, it’s that most of us are not extraordinary in that regard.”

Neither I, nor that young lady, were selected! What a week indeed…


One thought on “Kicking the Holiday Season Off with a Bang!

  1. #1 – Nailed it!

    #2 – We just lost a 13 year old cat. It pretty much devastated one of our five (she was very bonded to the cat). Good luck with the pup!

    #3 – I have lost count of how many “the fire is out” chimney 911 calls over the years, only to find out that when the FD arrives, they have found an “extension” of the fire in the attic (where the fire escaped out a crack in the chimney). The FD typically responds “all hands on deck” until the “fire out” is confirmed by a member of the FD on scene.

    Here is just one of them that a neighbor caught with his drone…
    (Yes, I was dispatching this call)

    #4 – Near and dear to my heart. In college I too was summoned to Jury Duty – and was called up for a civil case that we were told would take up to two weeks. The case involved a man who fell from a ladder while cleaning ice from a roof – in February – in Minnesota. Oh, how every potential juror tried to get out of that case. The hardships stories overfloweth. When it came to my turn, I told them that my 10 years of working in a local hardware store selling ladders (and knowing how dangerous they were) made me biased against the plaintiff who was using a ladder on an icy surface… in February… In Minnesota. The attorney for the plaintiff was none-too-happy with me and my “observation” – stating that during the trial he will show that the facts of the case to not meet my “bias”. I gave him a wink, and a nod with a sarcastic “Oh, ok.. Sorry.” Needless to say, I got a “pass”, and did not have to sit on that Jury Panel.

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