Did you know that something is more certain if you believe it “beyond a reasonable doubt” than if you are “clear and confident of it?” Hey, I was shocked, too.
That’s what I learned on jury duty last week. The prosecutor explained stuff like that to me and the other 32 prospective jurors. I was number 29. It was a misdemeanor case and they were only looking for six jurors. Being 29 when they’re looking for six is good. (You just read a sentence that has never been written before. I’m clear and confident of that.)
Anyone selected for the jury would have to serve for about two days. That’s what the judge said, and he’d been around long enough to know. I’m patriotic as all get out, but I really didn’t wanna show back up on Tuesday.
Did you know that some people make weird comments during the voir dire phase of a trial? “Voir dire?”That’s the technical term for the process of selecting a jury. The judge mentioned that, but I already knew.
I wanted to raise my hand and tell him I knew, but one of the clerks already gave me a questioning look when I stood up to see if I could steal a better pen. I don’t think you’re supposed to stand without permission.
Where was I? Oh, weird comments. The prosecutor asked if anyone would have to be 100 percent certain before finding a person guilty. In other words, did we all agree to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” criterion?
A few raised their hands and said they’d have to be 100 percent sure. Good grief! Witnesses can’t even be 100 percent sure. Witnesses are lousy witnesses. (Another invented sentence.) If I had to draw a composite picture of Brad Meyer, the restaurant critic goober I eat with, I couldn’t tell you if he had hair or not. I’m around him at least two times a week. Does he have a beard? Not sure. Do you know? Well, see there? We’d both be lousy witnesses.
The only person who can be 100 percent sure of who did what is the person charged with doing it. He knows if he did it or not. Anyone who might’ve seen him can only know “beyond a reasonable doubt.” An extraterrestrial could’ve taken the guy’s place and committed the crime. That’s possible, but not reasonable.
I wanted to raise my hand and explain all of that to the prosecutor, because I didn’t think he was explaining as well as I could. But, I didn’t. Low profile. That’s the course of action I chose. I was number 29. Didn’t wanna stand out. If it were a big highfalutin famous person trial, I might’ve said stuff to get on the news.
But, I was keeping it low-key... which was a popular name for boys born in 2008. I didn’t even want to stand out in the lobby when we were waiting to be called in. Get there at 9:00 the jury summons said. I came 15 minutes early and couldn’t find a place to park. Impossible to park where the summons instructed. Billions of cars. I ended up parking in the Baptist Church parking lot. Been my experience Baptists seldom tow your car.
I did get there just in time to wait 40 minutes to be called into the courtroom. I imagine the lawyers were trying to strike a deal and avert a trial. They do that a lot. Bring things right down to the wire to see if one side caves. No caving.
The trial is over by now. I didn’t serve, but I did my duty. I showed up, I spoke when directly spoken to (which was not at all) and I returned the pen I stole. I participated in the process called voir dire, and was judged to be unwanted, unneeded, and marginally well behaved. It was a rather successful Monday for me.
To view Brad and Mark’s latest restaurant click on photo.