Mr. Burns: Officers, arrest the baby.
Chief Wiggum: Yeah, right, pops. No jury in the world is going to convict a baby. Well, maybe Texas.
—The Simpsons, "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 2" (9/17/95)
I'm starting this post in the Jury Assembly Room down at the courthouse on Calvert Street. Yes indeed, kids, Your Humble Narrator has jury duty again.
There was a time, my friends, when jury duty was simply not in my vocabulary. When I lived on Long Island, I got called exactly one time, about a week after I'd moved out of the county. When I lived in New Jersey I was called not at all. Now that I'm in Baltimore, this is my second time in this room.
For those who are curious, the ceiling of this room is beautiful. I'd take a photo but they've threatened to have us shot if we bust out the cameras. And they've upgraded the monitors on the walls since I was here last. They've gone from tube TVs to flat panels. The movies haven't improved much, though. Today's offerings were Meet the Parents, Happy Feet and Home Alone. If you're in the Quiet Room, you can see the movies but not hear them.
My number today was 622, so they clearly anticipated a lot of need. However, when they first got rolling, they called up to Number 150, then they called from 151 through 260 about ten minutes later. And that was it for the entire day. At least last time around I got to go with the group to a courtroom, only to be sent back to the pool room when they put a jury together before they got around to asking me everything.
So I basically spent the day surfing the web and reading my Kindle, with a lunch break at the Five Guys down at the Harbor. So when you combine my stipend with my lunch and parking, I lost about seven dollars on the day, but it's not about the money; it's about the opportunity to participate in one of the more important aspects of the experiment they call the United States of America. That opportunity didn't come this year, but clearly Baltimore likes me enough to call me back repeatedly.