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The Furor of the Juror

(You know what's special? Relativity, that's what.

Well, not all of it. Just the special kind. Obviously.

For more probing scientifical insights like this, check out this week's dose of Secondhand SCIENCE, which is about -- you guessed it -- special relativity.

It makes regular relativity look like remedial relativity. Check it out.)

Next week, I'll be venturing into new territory for me. New, somewhat troubling and highly judicial: I've been summoned for jury duty.

It's my first time, which seems to be unusual -- just about everyone I mention it to has been called for jury duty themselves. Which means they have stories. And lots of advice:

"Better take a tablet, so you can watch movies or something."

Evidently, watching the wheels of justice turn isn't as mesmerizing as the writers for Law and Order would want you to believe.

"If you get sequestered, make sure they give you the good takeout food."

This advice was sadly not followed up with tips on how to score the good takeout, or exactly what constituted "bad takeout". I've frankly never met a spicy eggroll I didn't like. But I've never had one in a courthouse, either.

"If you want out fast, just give 'em the crazy eyes. Say you're pro-arson or something."

This seems like good advice to get out of some things fast. A blind date, for instance. A PTA meeting. Volunteer firefighter training. But assuming there's a prosecutor in the vicinity, I think I'll stay away from confessing love for any sort of felony. Or misdemeanor, for that matter.

"If some suit is still yakking about evidence by noon, I'm just going to vote to fry the defendant for whatever disturbing the peace or litterbugging he's in for, so we can all get on with our lives."

But I am good with the crazy eyes. I'm totally doing that.

The main thing I don't want is to get sucked into some months-long affair that drags on forever. A couple of hours of criminal justice system is fine -- I've watched my share of L&O marathons on cable. But I'll lose interest soon enough. If some suit is still yakking about evidence by noon, I'm just going to vote to fry the defendant for whatever disturbing the peace or litterbugging he's in for, so we can all get on with our lives.

Well, okay. So the rest of us can get on with our lives. The perp should have thought of that before he dropped his gum wrapper on the ground, or whatever.

The scary thing -- other than everything about a courthouse, and being formally summoned to one at eight in the early-ass morning -- is that there are two hee-yuge trials around town just getting under way. The Boston Marathon bombing trial started picking jurors last week, and apparently the ex-Patriot Aaron Hernandez murder trial is doing the same now. Neither of those seems like a quick "in-and-out" kind of deal, somehow. Probably, there's some evidence to go over, and witnesses to call and such. The bad takeout could get really old for somebody sitting on one of those juries.

Of course, as a (sometimes) writer, maybe I should want to land on one of those high-profile cases. Some jurors get through those, wrangle some sort of legal rights or other, and pen bestselling books about the experience. I can't say that wouldn't be attractive. Except for all that writing that's probably involved. Still.

The bigger problem is that I'm really that kind of writer. You don't want deliberations about a cold-blooded murder, or a capital terrorism case, to sound hilarious -- but I'm not sure what else I could go for. Most everything I write -- including this nonsense -- is a swirl of iffy snark, self-deprecation and dick jokes.

(Psst. It was the "spicy eggroll" thing. Sometimes they're subtle.)

Anyway, I don't think that's a risk for me. Those are both federal cases, I think, and I'm not being called to a federal courthouse... I think. I don't really know how this works. Maybe I'll get traded for a sack of "good takeout" burritos, and wind up sequestered for months. Or I'll acquit a jaywalker after ten minutes of defense. Or I won't get called at all. That might be likeliest.

(I really do have the good crazy eyes. I'm just saying.)

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