Sunday, September 27, 2009

No good deed...

That's how I was feeling at 5:35 on Friday afternoon, as I walked out of the county courthouse. I'd appeared as per my jury duty call at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon, rather than writing in for a postponement. The call said (as these calls usually do) that most jurors serve 1-3 days, and I looked at my schedule and realized that I wasn't teaching Friday, or Monday, and I'm furloughed on Tuesday, and that I could, if absolutely necessary, cancel meetings on Wednesday. In that way, I could do my service without postponing or rescheduling. I should say right now that I actually (in that terribly idealistic way I have sometimes) really believe in doing things like jury duty, the same way I believe in defending freedom of speech, even when I think that people are saying really really stupid things, and in paying my taxes, even when I think the money is being spent on ridiculousnesses. It's the principle. And sometimes, principles are important, and worthy of defense, and worthy of some time and effort.

So, off I went, a pile of grading and a sock to knit in hand, prepared to either wait or be a juror in a short trial. (I should mention, by way of proof of my generally good attitude towards these things, that the last time I was called, I went and served as the forewoman of a jury for a three-day trial.) It turns out that they are looking for jurors for an eleven-week trial. And it turns out that, when looking for jurors for an eleven-week trial, there is something about seeing a juror form with the box for "government employee" checked that just charms them to pieces, because the government will pay its employees for the duration of their jury service, rather than just for the required five days, so that they can't claim financial hardship for serving on a long trial (code: LT). Note to self: do NOT check the "government employee" box on future jury forms.

They also say that there are five possible excuses for not serving on an LT (they use that code, not I). Those excuses include necessary care of others. So, I checked that box (quite truthfully) and said that I have an 11 and an 8 year old, who are out of school at 3 each day, except on Mondays when the 11-year-old is out at 1:45. And that I'm the picker-upper. This is true. And quite frankly, I think it's a lot to ask of any parent of young children that they serve on an 11-week trial. What if one of them got the flu? Or...? Another acceptable excuse is pre-paid, non-refundable travel. As in our trip to Cincinnati in October. But I didn't put that, because I kind of thought the first one trumped all, since it starts mattering this week, when I'm supposed to be picking them up from school. And I didn't put (because this is not considered a valid excuse) the fact that I'm teaching 117 students in classes for which there are no available substitute faculty (ask me how I know), in a semester when they were limited to registration for 13 units, in classes that are required for their graduation.

I have to appear again on Tuesday afternoon. Apparently once I appeared, I was bound to the court, and if I don't come back when they tell me to, they can and will put out a bench warrant for my arrest. Now, if I'd decided to be a laggard, and just sent in the dratted form requesting a postponement, I would not be in this predicament, and my need to be available to pick kids up after school would have been acceptable. But since I went to the court, they can now call me back in to question whether that excuse is a valid one. Rick is worrying (there's no way he can pick up kids every single day for eleven weeks), and my department chair is worrying (there are no adjunct faculty available to teach the classes I teach; we've tried to find some to teach extra sections, and they're just not out there), and I'm sick to my stomach. No good deed, indeed!

On the other hand, sometimes good deeds are worth their weight in gold. Today, Yarning For You hosted a Knit for the Cure, a good deed which deserves three cheers, and the girls and I all went, to be greeted by the statues out in front of the store, dressed up for the occasion.
They were all dressed up in the donations that have been received thus far (these will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Susan Komen foundation).
There were goodies laid out for snacking.
And good company for knitting with.
It got a lot more crowded by the end of the day. The girls had come so that Older Daughter could earn some of her required volunteer hours for school by helping out. They cleaned up the back/sale room by straightening out the bins of yarn, and rewinding yarn that had come out of shape.
Older Daughter also started a baby hat to donate to the auction; it's quite darling, and I'll be sure to share pictures when it's done. I started a pair of fingerless mitts with the rest of the Lime and Violet Intentions yarn that I used to knit socks last year for my friend who was doing the three-day walk. At the end of their volunteer time, the girls each got two balls of yarn from the sale room; apparently some good deeds do get the rewards they deserve. It was a wonderful day, with lots of good conversation and laughter, and it was exactly what I needed before starting a new week.

I also spent some time doing recovery knitting this weekend (as in: recovering from the last week). I'm making serious progress on the Urban Aran. Here's the completed back:
And one front half plus some of the second (the back is also in that picture, there on the right).
At this rate, I think I might have a shot at finishing this in time for our trip to Cincinnati after all. Assuming that I'm not a juror in an eleven-week trial. Can everyone please think non-jurist thoughts in my direction, please? Meanwhile, I'm going to go read Lord of the Rings to the girls; we've just caught back up with Sam and Frodo, and they're dying to hear what happens next.


Rachel said...

Oy, I sure hope they will let you off the jury duty, will cross fingers for you Tuesday afternoon!

Your sweater looks beautiful.

vickie said...

im 31 years old and ive never served on a jury once. I just throw them away and never respond i know thats bad but seriously I have ADD I could sit through a whole trial and not pick up anything. when I was in school I always had a hard time because of my learning disorder it took me a long time to understand information being told to me so I would reallt suck on a jury

Jane said...

Non jury thoughts coming your way!
What a lovely way to spend the day with the girls.

dawn in nl said...

Oh how I recognise that priniciples thing - not to mention the sneaky feelings of regret later.

I have never been called for jury duty and would ask for exemption because my hearing is poor.

I will keep my fingers crossed that your reasons are considered valid.

All the best,


I've never been called for jury duty, either, although Sweetie did serve on a case not long after we moved here.

Don't worry; everything will work out.

And, nice sweater!

Rachael said...

lol - I kept reading 'no good dead' as your title and I was totally confused. It's probably not a good sign that I am still this brain dead on monday morning.

I hope you don't get picked for the trial because I know it would put serious stress on your life in a lot of ways, but just to throw a silver lining in there - just THINK of all that knitting time!

Mary Lou said...

That sweater is going to be gorgeous. I have never been called for jury duty, oddly enough. I would feel as you do, though. I had a co-worker who would say that her boyfriend was a cop, she always got the boot. She didn't have a boyfriend, as I recall. I work in the courthouse here, and see all the jurors trooping around with their escorts during the day. I'll envision you not among them.

RobinH said...

Ack. I feel your pain. I was called *four* times when I was away at college (they kept postponing me, then called again during the school year), and then finally excused me the last time (called during the summer) because I truthfully said that none of my several jobs would pay me for the lost time.

In the 20+ years since I graduated, pretty much all of which I'd have gotten full pay? Never called once. Granted, I work for a small company and don't have anyone to replace me, so I'd work a lot of OT trying to keep up with my day job, but I *could* do it.

Anyway- good for you for going on principle, and I hope you don't get picked for this one.

Anonymous said...

(I'm leaving this anonymously as I'm a bit ashamed of what I'm about to write.)

After being selected as a possible juror, you are typically asked to pledge that your views will be entirely free from bias. As a student of social psychology, I can tell you that no one is free from bias. I told this to a judge once and she started fuming. I said I would promise to try to be aware of my biases and to keep them in check but that I could not promise to be free from bias.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Love the statues! Urban Aran is looking great - beautiful yarn

Anonymous said...

What Anonymous said. My husband was excused from jury duty b/c he had once been (wrongly) arrested and could not honestly say that he did not have a bias against the police. After he had been rejected for three juries for that reason, he was excused. Your state rules may vary, but DH's take was that BOTH the defense attorney and the prosecutor did NOT want educated people who could think for themselves; they wanted simple-minded jurors whom they could sway to their case.

Good for you for following your principles, and I hope the judge is understanding about your difficulties.

Helen said...

I think that if you turn up wearing an outrageous knitted woolly hat, both sides will have you off the jury so fast your feet won't touch the ground. Something bright, on big needles. You've got time.

Gwen said...

I'll try to spare some of my non-jury thoughts for you. Though I sent in a postponement request, I think.

Two jury duties ago, I had to sit through the selection process for a murder trial. That 20 page questionaire was disturbing. It took a lot for the judge to release somebody (bias, past experience as victim/family member/perpetrator), but the attorneys went through a lot of people. I think we started selection with nearly 100, and I was in the last 15 or so when the jury was final.

Last jury duty, I was on the jury, but it was pretty quick. 5 days total? Maybe?

Seems like over the years (here in Alameda County), we (my coworkers and myself) have noticed we're more likely to have to go in, and serve. I had several years when I called the night before, found out I wasn't needed, and that was that. No more!

Sorry about that. Seems like I always need to share my particular jury duty pain. (at least I wasn't picked for that murder trial. Gah!)

I like the crazy wool hat. Especially if it's a hot day.

Geri said...

OK, Sister we need a plan! So what kind of actor are you? Can you pull off crazy? Certifiable crazy - it might work. I normally would be proud of your upstanding citizenship but hell I'm selfish. You can't miss coming to Cincinnati!!!!! I'll cry.

twinsetjan said...

Sending good thoughts your way...I'm thinking about the beautiful urban aran and those beautiful girls of yours!

twinset said...

Oh, I am so crossing my fingers for you. I got let off jury duty in time to ride north with my fellow knitters on Thursday for a retreat instead of driving up alone on Friday; I hope the same knitter's luck will extend to you.

I suggest that you make your strong opinions on things well known during the interviews. They don't seem to like people who are strongly opinionated. And tell them you believe everthing in CSI.

Willow said...

I was called for jury duty a few years ago in LA County. Interesting. I went, I stayed, I was not called for the jury. I've heard lawyers love teachers because we are compassionate.

I'm definitely thinking non jury thoughts for you!

Another Joan said...

Our family has a case in progress which may go to trial. I, for one, would be thrilled to have someone with your intelligence and life experiences on the jury. Hoping for the best for all.

Bea said...

Thinking lots and lots on non-jurist thoughts...

In Texas you and eleven million other people all get called to show up on the same day. You must be there on the day in question, unless you have a valid excuse for not being serving. If you can serve you must serve on the day they call you. No postponing as far as I've been told. (Very early in the morning arrival too.) Then if they end up not needing you about 2 or 3 hours after you get there they let you go home and they say you've met your obligation until called again. Of course they can call you again right away because you didn't serve, but you are out this time. If they need you they call a group of 20 into a room with the defendant, the prosecution, and the judge. All those people can then ask questions of all the jurors. Then they send us all out of the room. Each side gets to have three juror vetos. They start at juror 1 (not alphabetical) and if d/p/j all approve that person will sit. On to number 2,3,4... until they have 12. At any time d and p can use their veto and elect not to have someone serve.

I've gotten called 7 times. Three times I was no long a resident of the county in question so didn't even have to go at all. Twice it was for drunk driving charges and I have a hardline stance on alcohol and cars. In fact I told one judge that I thought that drunk driving limits tended to be too high in general. Next time it was an assault thing and they asked if anyone had been victim of an assualt and my hand went up because of my brother and his craziness. Last time I knew the judge really really well and you can't be acquainted with d or p or j. I'm not even sure what the trial was because that basically nixed me the moment I walked in the door so I stopped paying attention.

Oh also. Knitting has not been allowed. I can read, crochet, cross-stitch. I cannot knit. Very sad when you may wait for a really long time.