California statute requires one day or one trial every 12 months as far as jury duty goes. So on Sunday night I call in to see if I am needed... No... Yea.. Monday I make the same evening call... Not needed on Tuesday. I repeat this process the next two nights. Thursday I call in.... I am told to report at 7:45 am on Friday. Damn. One more day and I would have served my time without leaving my phone.
So Friday... frikin' FRIDAY at 8:00 am, in the jury assembly room at the Van Nuys Superior Court building in Van Nuys, we unfortunate participants, have jury duty orientation. This consists of a video telling me what a wonderful service I am about to perform for the State of California. I am not swayed.
At the end of the video, a nice young Woman comes to a podium with a wireless microphone. She repeats this same speech every morning, 5 days a week as a career. It is a pleasant "reading" but the freshness of the script has run its course. She will say the words, "Any questions" every few seconds for the rest of the orientation.
She starts repeating most of the information we just had to sit through. I am thinking that if we have to be reminded of what we just heard moments before, maybe we do not have the brain capacity to serve on a jury. None the less we listen to her "sort of". I see several people texting covertly, and one old man continues to glance at his LA Times, or he was nodding off it was hard to tell.
The nice woman gets to the part about "postponements and excuses not to serve". I was not listening very closely. None of this section applies to me, because if I could come up with an excuse that worked I wouldn't be sitting here this time of the morning.
The woman says, "If you are over 70 and have a medical condition, you must state the condition on line 7 of the form...". At that moment some man in the middle of the room almost shrieks, "Wow. Unbelievable"
This stops the process in its tracks. The lady turns to the man as if she had not understood the questions.
He says, "Possum"
She repeats, "Possum"
Now the jury room of the Van Nuys Superior court house is located on the ground floor with plenty of windows. It is not a bad view of old trees and official buildings. It is not however, a place that seems to inspire creativity. I guess I would call it an institutional environment. It is easy to get distracted by the people walking on the sidewalk through the trees. No one is just enjoying the stroll. Everyone on this property has some legal reason to be there. As I watched people make their way past the window I played a game in my mind. The game is called "Lawyer, Planiff, Defendant". As quickly as the people passed by was all the time I had to cast them (the movie in my head) as a lawyer, planiff or defendant in some Superior Court drama to come.
I am sure that is exactly what the man was doing when he said, "Possum." For indeed now everyone in the jury room is looking at a very large possum peering into our window. As an indicator of the boredom factor people began to act like they had never seen an animal off -leash and ungroomed.
No one is listening to the jury Woman, everyone is giggling at a possum like it was a giraffe giving birth. In fact the jury woman herself has moved closer to the window to see the possum. She is able to continue repeating the speech while clearly expressing more interest in the possum. Just as everyone in the room had taken their seats convinced the possum show was over, the jury woman says, "I think that is security trying to get the possum."
Indeed the cops had shown up to arrest the possum. Perhaps for trespassing, I suppose. Or maybe for being out after possum curfew. Whatever the charge it became difficult to subdue the possum. The possum refused to obey verbal commands, and was already down on the ground. I am sure their Smith and Wesson handcuffs do not ratchet down to possum size.
Before too long the possum decided to take it on the lam and took off to parts unknown. It was back to the boredom of civic duty.
Soon we were called to various courts and the process began. Since we were admonished not to talk about the case, and we were not allowed to take any photos, you'll have to take my word for all of this. However, I can tell you with complete candor that the Possum was the highlight of my day in court.
As you were,