A Typically Atypical Day

15 December, 2008

Today has been a rather odd day (not that all that many of my days are what any sane person could call ‘normal’ (though if abnormality is normal, then wouldn’t normality itself be abnormal (okay, I need to stop going down this road before it gets weird))).  (((Wife))) could not work her street corner because she had to go to court (you know, when I phrase it that way, it just sounds wrong?). 

Actually, she got a letter a month ago calling her for jury duty on 8 December.  Then she got a letter telling her to come in on the 15th.  Since today is my day off, I dropped her off at the courthouse. 

I went home and argued with a Dragon model of a Messerschmidt ME 163 S-1 Habicht.  After struggling for almost an hour with some PE (photo-etched metal), some old superglue and some recalcitrant zapper (it makes CA solidify really fast), I gave up and watched some old movies on TV.

(((Wife))) called at 1:26.  “Come get me.”  So I went and picked up (((Wife))).  She was not only done for the day, but had already been picked for a jury, done her time, and been released.

She tried her level best to avoid being picked.  She was honest about all of the federal and local law enforcement officers she knows (one federal officer intimately).  She was honest about all of the lawyers she knows (most from her days running a cleaning agency).  She honestly answered all of the questions.  The one which asked:  “Are you more likely to believe a law enforcement officer?” She answered no.  “Are you less likely to believe a law enforcement officer?” also garnered a no. 

While still in the jury room (with 129 other potential jurors), one of the judges came in and gave a quick talk about the importance of jury duty and that he understood that nobody wanted to be there.  Then he said, “I know all of you want to go home.  Are any of you Eagles fans?  They have a game tonight, you know.”  Half the room raised their hands.  “Okay, you can go, but you gotta watch the game.”  Some of them stood and prepared to go.  “Just kidding.  Here’s how it will work” and explained the whole process.

(((Wife))) was chosen to sit as part of a jury for a retail theft case.  When she walked into the courtroom, she realized that she knows the defense lawyer.  She was still selected.  Damn.

As they were being seated, the judge looked over to the jury and said, “Juror Number 2?”  Everyone stopped, expecting a profound statement from the judge.  “Be careful.  Your seat goes back real fast.”  He went through the whole rigmarole:  “Do any of you know, or are related to, the defendent? do any of you know the prosecutor?  do any of  know me?  If none of you know me, how do I keep getting elected?”

She sat, with eleven other jurors, in the freezing court room (our county has (like just about every single local government) is experiencing a lack of funds (thank you, anti-tax zealots)) and listened to the opening statements.  An older woman, an immigrant from Ukraine (who also happens to be deaf) apparently went through the self-check-out lane at Walmart, paid for $160 of her purchase, and neglected to scan the other $160.  After the opening speeches, they broke for lunch.  Time elapsed, 15 minutes.

After lunch, the first witness took the stand.  He was the retail loss prevention specialist from Walmart.  And he screwed up.  He screwed up big time.  As he was walked through the crime and the aftermath, he said, “The police ran her name, and discovered that she had a long . . . .”

The defense attorney immediately shouted, “Mistrial.”  The judge agreed.  The case will get a new jury. An untainted jury.

When (((Wife))) first told me the story, I wondered just how much money would be wasted in the second trial.  Then (((Wife))) told me what had gone through her mind:  “I was ready to believe the defense attorney; give him the benefit of the doubt.  After all, an older woman, a deaf immigrant, could easily have not realized that items were not being scanned.  Then, the Walmart guy said that the cops had found out about a history, and instantly, I knew I was tainted.  It changed everything about the way I viewed what had been said.  It was the right call.”

(((Wife))) had fun.  She said that it was nothing like the crime and lawyer dramas on TV.  If anything, given that the judges, defense attorneys, assistant DAs, court reporters, stenographers, everybody, knew each other and each others lives, it was more like the old TV comedy Night Court than, say, Boston Legal.  Not that they were unprofessional, but that they all knew each other well enough that they could almost use a verbal shorthand.  She’s glad it wasn’t a three week trial from hell, or a highly technical medical malpractice case.  But she also wishes it hadn’t been a mistrial.  She was just starting to get into it when the Walmart supervisory rent-a-cop screwed up.

All in all a typically atypical day at the home of (((Billy))) The Atheist.

Does this mean that my (((Wife))) is now considered tainted?



  1. Billy, I like you! Another modeler! In one of my rare victories over my wife, she has conceded that she will permit no models in the bathroom or our bedroom. I’m still trying my luck with vacuforms, and they have turned out…adequet.

    I used to have a neighbor in Nurnburg who was a very interesting man. His back, legs, and arms looked like S hooks and his head looked like a peanut someone had stepped on. He was the only German atheist I ever knew, and he loved life and really liked Americans. Americans were the cause of his physical damage, but also he was cared for after the war in an American military hospital and brought up to what standard was available. He was a teenager at the end of the war, recieved flight training, and flew the He 162 Salamander. He flew ten missions, and on the last he was coming in to land, was on a long final, and for some reason looked in his mirrors and watched a P 51 settle down right behind him. He refered to that as an “Oh, Shit”! moment. He actually watched the guns light up, and the 162 disintegrated around him. He hit the trees at around a hundred miles an hour, some of the cockpit still intact and him still in his seat.Said it was the luckiest day of his life. He was in the hospital waiting to die, and the next day all the boys he went into that outfit with were sent to retrain and fly Me 163s. Not one survived training. He lived to marry, reproduce, and was watching grandchildren when I knew him.

    I’ve never had jury duty. I often wonder if it’s because I’m registered to vote as a socialist.

    My wife has been called twelve times. She has sat on six of them. One panel went to a tavern for lunch, and she really liked their soup, salad, and sandwich combo. We were walking up the stairs when she was telling me this, raving about the soup (the meal is, in fact, called the jurors special) and I asked her, “Did you have the soup de Jury, or the soup de facto”? She turned around, and gave me a most considering look. Said, “Sara, it’s a real shame that your husband had that seizure on the stairs and fell and broke his neck…but just HOW did that footprint get in the middle of his chest”? I often think I should have been terrified of the woman for the better part of half a century.

    A couple years ago there was a local murder case where it was almost impossible to seat a jury, they’d gone completelt thropugh about four hundred and seated just a couple. The judge had 400 summons drawn up and the deputy sheriffs were sent out to serve them.

    I know one of the deputies, and he told me that he and his partner had stopped at a Sheetz for something to drink and were standing outside, and a woman came up and asked them what they were doing there.

    His partner said, just taking a break…by the way, are you a resident of Blair County? She was. Was she over eighteen? Yes, if it was any of his business. Thanks, this is for you. And handed her a summons.

    She asked what it was and was told, she remonstrated, demanded why this had happened to her.

    Friend’s partner said, “Because you didn’t listen to your mother.” He was asked how was THAT, and he said, “Didn’t she tell you not to speak to strangers”? She wound up as an alternant. She was NOT happy.

  2. I’m a modeler, too. Well, a tad different though. I make digital models. Actually, it’s more like sculpting, but they call it modeling. Whatever. The nice thing is there are no “real” models cluttering up the house to piss off the wife or in my case, for me to not step on or smack into with my oafishly large body.

    I know guys who make mostly planes, especially military planes, like the guys who do that show Dogfights on History channel. I’ve never built a plane. I make more organic than inorganic stuff usually. Maybe I should make a plane. I do have a little down time. Anything perhaps a tad unusual or little known that you can recommend?

  3. Sarge: I think that PA has changed the rules — they now do it off of driver’s liscenses because (and I kid you not) people were actually declining the right to vote to avoid jury duty. So I don’t think our socialistic bent has bent the system against you. I’ve live in WB for 18 years and still have never been called for jury duty. Maybe its the cowboy hat.

    I find building plastic models to be (usually) very relaxing. I tend to go for the simpler kits (usually armour (WWII or before)) because the painting and weathering is what really makes it fun. So far this year I have built an IL-2 Sturmovik in Polish markings, a P-51D in ground attack configuration in RAAF markings, and a Tamiya Jagdpanzer IV Lang L/70. The Jagdpanzer has definately been the most enjoyable just because of the rust, mud and dust. I’ve tried to build a vacuum kit once. Never again. I want it to be fun.

    Philly: I never thought about digital modeling. Sounds like fun. (((Wife))) would like it as it would reduce the ‘damn dust collectors’ sitting on shelves.

    As far as an unusual/interesting? Hmmmm. How about a Boeing Clipper from the 1930s (your era, too, isn’t it? (or is that the Peeved Pussy?))? Or maybe a Hawker Hart or one of the other interwar modern biplanes? They tended to be very colourful and had unusual surface textures. Or maybe you could do a digital model of a world champion Kansas City Chiefs football team (or is that too much into the fantasy realm?)

  4. When I was a kid I used to build models. Airplanes and model cars, the antique cars, Stanley Steamers, Stutz Bearcats. Had quite a collection. Had some jets, a couple of bombers. And then I caught puberty. Discovered writing and girls. Bye bye cars and planes.

  5. Ric: I thought for you the Stanley Steamers and Stutz Bearcats were memories of your youth, not antiques. I went through a fifteen year period when I did not build models. When (((Boy))) got into them, I joined him. The kits have gotten a whole lot better than the old Monogram, Revell and Aurora kits of my youth.

  6. Your ageist bigotry is not unnoticed, you young punk.

    I’ve heard you need an engineering degree to build today’s models.

  7. If I am also old (though not as old as some I could name) can I still be ageist?

    Some of the new models are so complicated it is mind blowing. I’m working on a late-production Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I, a kit made by Dragon. The detail is amazing. The torsion-bar suspension works. The PE is extensive. And so far I have completed the lower hull after about 40 hours. The Panzerjager IV L/70 Lang was, in comparison, a shake-the-box kit (almost). I tend to go for the simpler kits so I can spend more time on the paint.

  8. I was called for jury duty about two years ago, but was the first one dismissed when the lawyers got their opportunity to whittle down the jury. Too bad they didn’t do that before I had to listen to all the speeches about process and so on.

  9. Chappie: (((Wife))) actually enjoyed it when the judges talked about the process, as well as the history of the building, the artwork, etc. So why were you the first dismissed? Did they give a reason, or maybe you just looked too pure?

  10. (((Billy))): Thanks for the info, I don’t drive so probably that’s it. My current projects are: an M113 personel carrier. I used to crew one in Viet Nam, and I tend to go with things I’ve dealt with. I’m finishing the rigging of the CSS Alabama (did the USS Kearsarge last year), and my current aircraft project is a C119. I am the aerospace education officer of our civil air patrol squadron so I make a lot and teach the kids how to make good ones, and how to use an airbrush on them. They really love that.

    Philly: if you want a good one in plastic try a 1/48 scale Skyraider (AD or A1). Most of those kits are complex enough to make it interesting but not like trying to assemble the real thing on your own, the subject had a lot of variations and was a famous machine. Easy paint schemes. Academy makes a nice one as does Italieri.

    Chappie: My wife got challenged on JD once because she was overwieght. Some woman slipped in a supermarket, and it was said that my wife would have undue sympathy because the other woman was also overwieght. I was told by another person that she actually made the difference in a case. It was somthing to do with electrical shock that caused a death, and the defense had an “expert” come in and double talked and outright lied about electricity. My wife is quite educated, smart, and a ham operator, knew that what the man was saying was pure horse shit. The upshot was (as any eighth grade earth science student would know)that certain things conduct electricity. She kept hearing from her fellow panel members, “But Dr. ‘Puffbuttock said…’, and she finally recapped what he said. She told them that according to him, one could stick ones finger in a light socket, ones foot in a toilet, and suffer no ill effects. There were no takers. Gee. The one lawyer was upset because she hadn’t disclose that she knew about electricity, but the judge said, “You didn’t ASK her about it”. The judge herself commented on the fact that most people knew more about electricity that it happened when you threw a switch or pulled a chain.

  11. They didn’t give a reason for dismissing me, but I think it had to do with the fact that the case involved a guy accused of dealing drugs. The place where I work treats drug addicts, so there may have been a presumption of bias on my part.

  12. Chappie: Makes sense. Actually, I would tend to agree with a juror dismisal in that circumstance.

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