Be Careful What You Complain About

After I wrote a column for the paper complaining about getting called every year for jury duty in federal court, a number of people warned me I was putting a bulls-eye on my forehead.

But since I believe in free speech — and I also thought it might make someone think twice about picking me for a jury (on top of being a journalist for a legal newspaper) — I thought I would be safe.

No such luck.

I was picked for a jury in a criminal trial last week. When I told my staff, they laughed. When I told the editorial board, with whom I was supposed to meet with last week, a number of members also laughed.

When I told Papa Grez — who I pointed out in my column has the same name and lives in the same zip code and is retired and has never been called — he was delighted.

See, Papa Grez doesn't want anything to interfere with his golf games. And he's convinced now that I've outed him that the federal courts are going to call him.

"Serves you right," he said before laughing.

So what was jury duty like? Often tedious to the point of wanting to shove a screwdriver through my ear, but it was better than waiting in the jury room.

I must say though that the judge, Legrome Davis, was great, as was his staff, particularly his courtroom deputy Marcella El-Shabazz. They were very considerate of the jury and did what they could to make it as good an experience as possible.

The lawyering was pretty good as well. There were times when the lawyers dwelt too long on minor points or beat a dead horse well beyond the after-life, but on the whole they did a nice job, and each attorney had their stellar moments.

As for my fellow jurors, we got along well. It reminded me a bit of The Breakfast Club — you know, being thrown together with people you might normally never speak to.

On the whole I found it an interesting experience and I think I did learn a lot. I'll be writing a more detailed column about being on the jury in an upcoming issue of The Legal.

Hank Grezlak, Editor-in-Chief

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