Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Heah Come Da Judge.."

When I arrived at the courthouse for Jury Duty, I saw it was situated in a strip mall.

Hey, that's OK...Justice is blind. 

The quaint Town Courthouse Square seen in movies (I worked at Universal Studios when the tour first started) has been replaced by Subway stores, pawn shops and pizza places. 

Oh, and a Berkeley County Veteran's Affairs office.

Just before I opened the door, I saw a sign banning most anything you could think of. 

I had left my camera in the car - realizing courtrooms and cameras do not always co-exist. Then I had to go back to my car to drop off my cell phone. 

Courts are smarter than many music venues that ban cameras but seem to ignore PhoneCams .

Everybody now carries one and is not hesitant to whip it out and snap a picture or even create a video.

Inside, I handed in my paperwork, noting I had arrived at exactly 12:45, the designated and mandated requirement to do my civic duty. 

I pushed through a set of double doors to see an array of citizens in an obvious waiting area.

All of the seats were taken (when had they all arrived?) and I thought about saying that I was called as lucky Juror #7 so I was guaranteed a place to sit and wait. 

Thought better of that and shuffled over into an adjacent area that still had a few empty chairs.

Now I was seated among those with Veteran Affairs issues. 

I had served in the Marines as a combat photographer (Hey, 1957 - 1960 just happened to be very peaceful. Lucky for me!) I had served my tour of duty.

I sat back. crossed a leg, opened the paperback that I took a chance was safe to bring in, and immersed myself in the problems of a spy named Evan Tanner by a favorite author Lawrence Block.

All of the activity was on this side of the large room. 

People (veterans?) were called, they were ushered through a doorway for private consultations BUT, we all could hear the voice of the very loud counselor. No secrets here. 

"Haha, it says here, he's a Vice-President and he doesn't even know how to fill out a form correctly," was one refrain we could not avoid hearing. 

I think Joe Biden had finished his South Carolina vacation so I don't think that he was the VP in question.

After an hour of reading - and observing vets being called and taken in for assistance - there was some activity over in the Jury side of the room. 

Without a watch or my cellphone that shows the time, I really was just guessing it had been an hour.

The lady seated next to me said it was 1:30.

The newcomer - obviously an official, though dressed very casually - stated that deliberations were going on and we should hear an update soon.

I went back to my book where Tanner was sneaking across borders in Eastern Europe. I also noted there was an empty space on a hard wooden bench in the jury area so I moved over and sat down among my peer group.

A young lady with many tattoos commented that she had come on a Moped and was afraid that a 3 pm heavy rain would make her pretty miserable. 

I joked that I had heard Mopeds called a DUI-mobile because if you lost your license, you still could drive one of these. Haha.

She said it was true. She had had a DUI and a DUS (driving under a suspended license) and had served some time for drug possession so she was surprised she had been called for jury duty. Yikes!

A little after two, Judge Sessions came in, relaxed, with his black robe unzipped, to tell us the lawyers had met and, I guess, had accepted a plea bargain.

He said two jury trials had been avoided. 

He thanked us and noted the mediation had worked because all involved knew there was a jury "waiting in the wings."

Hey, unorganized and not even empaneled, we were a force for justice. 

We walked out to our cars - and at least one Moped - at about 2:30, and resumed our daily routines. 

I hope the veterans receive what they were seeking. All we ask for is justice.

Drive safely young Moped driver.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.) 

Thanks for sharing my day (almost) in court.

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