Monday, July 26, 2010

Jury Duty: Civil, Petit, Grand, and Beyond II; Ta Ka Di Ma at the AMNH

I was going to write about grand jury duty but just remembered that the proceedings are secret. I was able to write about the events of 30 years ago in the previous post because it was a public trial. Briefly, I will say that the experience was marked by a few luminous pearls connected by a string of intense tedium, making a token clerk's job look like intergalactic exploring. We listened, we deliberated, we voted.

Civil jury duty is one of the worst injuries ever suffered by the juror. I can speak from experience and from the many stories collected from fellow victims. A typical experience is:

Day 1: Wait most of the day in the Central Juror Room. Late in the afternoon, report to the court room for juror interviews.
Day 2: Get interviewed, be assigned to a jury.
Day 3: This may not be a consecutive day after Day 2 because the courts take more days off than Reagan. I once served in February and was stunned on Feb. 11 when the bailiff said he'd see us on the 13th. I don't think I'd had February 12* off since I was in grade school. When you report to Day 3, you are told that the case has been settled out of court, which is surprising the first time you hear it, but not after the tenth time. What's going on?

I sue you when I tripped on your stairs. You defend yourself and possibly file a countersuit. The court date approaches and a performance of chicken ballet begins. I start thinking I might not get as much as I asked for and you worry about losing your shirt. Your insurance company makes an offer. I don't like it and say let's go to trial. You say, see you in court! The jury is empaneled, we both blink, and a compromise is reached before the trial begins. Jurors time be damned and one considers that arbitration would be a better way to adjudicate most disputes.


I've been spending most Sundays the last two months wishing it were football season. I've been enjoying playing Scrabble with my 91-year-old mother and cooking big Sunday dinners, but yesterday I went to the Museum of Natural History to see THE SILK ROAD PROJECT. An amazing serendipity was a performance at the exit of the exhibit by "percussion legend Glen Velez and rhythm-voice virtuoso Lori Cotler." He performed on frame drum and sang and she also did vocal improvisations. The audience was invited in one part to sing along, which most did with gusto. "Ta Ka Di Mi" was the title of the performance and the audience participation song.

Ms. Cotler was accompanied by Mr. Velez in a performance of the American Popular Standard "Imagination" by Van Heusen (music) and Burke (lyrics), possibly the first time the tune was given a Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Indian flavored musical twist.

The day was concluded with chili at the Old Town. My 2010 World Cup shirt elicited a comment from the bartender (who looks like Neil Flynn, Janitor from SCRUBS) and we had a discussion on US soccer. Business was way up more than usual this year for the World Cup and if we advanced one more round it would have been even better.
* Lincoln's Birthday (actual)

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