15 January 2004
Since July 22, 2003, Memphis has felt it’s inferiority complex returning. We couldn’t get the lights turned back on for two weeks – in July, in Memphis! This from the town that brought you strikes by garbage workers, James Earl Ray and Mud Island.
Now we’re seeing a mayor annoint himself king and a city council that resents it. This from a metro area that continues to have divided city and county governments. We have two mayors. We have two law enforcement groups. We have two court systems. We have two school systems. We have two sets of taxes.
A subpoena (yep, that’s what they called it) to jury duty took me to the coliseum today. I graduated from high school there, and it hasn’t changed much accept to age somewhat ungracefully. Out in the middle of the floor was a platform with a couple of folding tables on it. The judge’s name tag sat right in the middle of the table.
At 10:15a.m., the 8:00a.m. group still had its remnants out on the floor. I was not looking forward to what time my 11:00a.m. group might get to leave. At 11:10a.m. we got this proclaimation, ”I just checked out the front windows of the coliseum and I still see some cars lined up to turn in out there, so we’re going to wait a little while to give some more of the 11:00a.m. people an opportunity to arrive on time.” (I tell you, I can’t make this stuff up!)
One of the local jury commissioners grabbed the microphone about 15 minutes later, and had us stand as the judge walked to the center of the coliseum’s floor and climbed up on his makeshift bench. The judge proceeded to call us to order and make us swear to tell the truth, then said court was in session. (I guess the court is where the judge is.) He then lectured us about MLK, rights, voting and our responsibilities.
The roughly 1500 to 2000 people who had been invited were read the rules:
- the sheriff’s deputies milling around weren’t there to answer questions; they were there for security
- the most important aspect of the dress code is ”no shorts;” shorts are defined as ”anything you put on one leg at a time that doesn’t reach to your ankles” (I can’t make this up!)
- you’re disqualified from jury duty for being a habitual drunkard, of unsound mind or if you’ve been convicted of an infamous crime
- habitual drunkards are defined as those who carry their habit with them; producing a bottle would have gotten you out of jury duty today
- you’re exempt from jury duty if you’re over 70, in the National Guard, a full time student or you’ve served as a juror in the last 10 years
- three parking garages will offer you discount parking if you prove to them you’re there for jury duty; discount parking is $2.00 a day
- as one selected for jury duty you’ll be serving in circuit, chancery, criminal or probate court
- available dates for 1-week tours of (jury) duty were Feb. 16-20, Feb. 23-27, March 15-19, March 22-26
I’ll be serving on a State of Tennessee jury the week of March 15, 2004. By 2:00p.m. the jurors had left the building.
Filed under: Memphis