I did not set out to become the John Dillinger of jury service evasion.
Upon reflection, I would venture to guess that not even the most hardened of criminals wants to become a fugitive. For one thing, it’s hard to get a hot shower. And that’s true even when you do have a reliable network safe houses staffed by molls to cater to all of your sundry black market needs. If you get word that The Fuzz has been nosing around all of your regular haunts, that makes it really tough to make the pediatrician appointment, or to enjoy your morning Starbucks in peace. And having Christian Bale bust through your front door, demanding that you “FREEZE, dirtbag!”? That shit is tough on your heart.
As for the folk hero angle? Well, I believe it was Snoop Dogg who put it best when he said that “murder was the case [that they gave me],” because even if my crime is not murder, the metaphor stands. Because, after all, ay, ay Jaycee, ain’t that Anna with that blue coat on? Ain’t that Anna, fugitive from the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Juror Services Division? Ain’t that Anna, now subject to “fine, imprisonment, and additional summons to jury service,” ain’t she flaunting the fact that she is evading her civic duty by writing a blog post on the topic? Shouldn’t she be sitting in a room somewhere, waiting? And complaining about being forced to sit in a room somewhere, waiting and complaining?
So to you, the public, I’m writing today to reassure you that I’m innocent. And also, that I need to talk to my lawyer. And by the by, do you have any smokes?
Like I said, you don’t start out trying to be bad. You start out like everyone else, and everything goes pretty much according to plan. But then one day someone convinces you to try smack “just this once,” or to ride shotgun with them on a drive-by, you know, just to see what it’s like. And before you know it, you’re getting a jury summons notice in the mail, and reluctantly keeping it on your desk, underneath that paperweight where you stash shit that you don’t want to deal with, but that you cannot throw away. Like the DMV registration with a smog check due. Or your back child support payment bills.
Or you know, whatever.
And then the summons will sit there, mocking you–smugly reassuring itself that while it might be cast aside in the short term, you will one day be forced to deal with it or else face a confrontation with the long arm of the law. And so you’ll toy with the idea of doing the right thing, even though they will make it so hard, so very very hard to do the right thing. They will ask that you call them on the weekend preceding your service week, and they will ask you to register for jury service. And you will have to do it, because even if it used to be that you could get out of jury duty in California fairly easily, you know that we now live in a post-Rodney King-, post-OJ Simpson- and post-their-respective-juries world.
Now they expect everybody to serve on juries, not just the people who cannot figure out how to get out of doing it. And you know that if you don’t register, they will just call you again. And again. And again and again and again.
And you will start to feel like there is no way out of it. You will start to feel like it is fate. You will start to feel like murder was the case.
And so as you will register, ignoring the reality that there are certain hours of the day in which you might be called where there is no alternative child care for Mini. You will know that they won’t give a shit about your childcare woes, because those jury service fuckers are hardcore. So you will register and pray for a miracle, and you will be granted reprieve on the first day. But you will have to call back. And call back again. And again. And again, for a whole week. And when you make your call, one fateful day, you will learn–to your horror– that you are expected to be somewhere in the godforsaken Valley at 7:00 am in the morning. And you will know that this is impossible, unless the Los Angeles County Superior Court system would also care to have a grouchy two-year-old running around the waiting room or screaming when security tries to take away his cars.
And you will know that nobody wants this.
So I didn’t go. And I’m not going. Take that, the Man! Why, right now, they are probably looking around, wondering where the grumpy chick with the laptop is, juror number 97042490, please report to the juror services window. Bueller? Bueller? But I’m not there. And I can’t get there. And I tried to tell them, but the machine on the other end of the line wasn’t having it. She just kept saying, “You cannot postpone service during your service week. Good bye. You cannot postpone service during your service week. Good bye.” And after hearing this fifty times, and trying to get through to a human and failing, what I told that bitch was, “You cannot force me to show up. Good bye. You cannot force me to show up. Good bye.”
I know some of you will call my actions irresponsible, foolhardy, stupid, lazy. And you are all right. I have no excuses. And if they throw me in the slammer, I’ll have no choice but to acknowledge this fact, and applaud the Los Angeles Police Department for going after the real perpetrators of injustice in our fine city. Because if there’s one thing we need to spend money on in this bankrupt state, it’s going after the jury services evaders. Why, I’m sure there are more like me out there, lurking in dark corners of seedy coffee bars or indoor play gym facilities, just waiting for the other shoe to drop, simultaneously dreading and expecting the day when some slick gumshoe finally sniffs them out and says, “Listen, see, I know who you are, you’re juror number 87564302! Pin number 4533! Did you think we wouldn’t find you, bud? Why I oughta–”
As I write this from my undisclosed location, I can only hope that my fate is less drastic. Maybe they won’t find me. Or that this subtle blog post about me evading jury service doesn’t give me away. Or, barring those two unlikely outcomes, that at the very least the institutional powdered eggs in the LA County lockup have a little bit more flavor than those served at the Santee Women’s jail.