City Pulse

By Tallulah Dumonde

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Jury Duty. Two words that evoke a wave of chills and nausea in virtually every New Yorker. Of course, it is our right and privilege to serve as part of an impartial panel to judge the facts presented to us by the prosecution and defense in an attempt to exact justice in a fair and…oh please! Jury duty sucks in the Big Apple. But does it have to? During my recent stint as juror candidate number two, I made it my mission to advise you on making your (and my) civic duty a bit more bearable. Here’s my beef:

First of all, let’s be considerate. Here we are cramped in a small room in our little ole jury pool; shouldn’t we…well, try to make the experience visually and olfactorily pleasant? Even though you don’t want to be there, it’s still a good idea to run a comb through your hair (yes, I saw some sportin the rooster head look) and use Secret (if it’s ‘strong enough for a man,’ then there ain’t no shame in swiping). Surprisingly, a good percentage of the folks I encountered at Jury Duty looked and smelled like they’d just rolled out of their godforsaken cots. Brushing your teeth is always appreciated, too…we’re not interested in seeing a yellow brick road, ya know.

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Next, when you’re called to Jury Duty in Manhattan, lunch time means shopping. Since 111 Center Street (where you will report for duty) is located virtually smack in the middle of Chinatown, why not be a little sneaky? You can uphold your lawful duty and still get all illegal eagle while shopping – hawking down those bootlegged DVDs – boo yah! While you’re shoppin it up, don’t forget to check out those imitation Tiffany dog tag pendants. Disclaimer: Think for yourself. BN doesn’t advocate buying designer knockoffs, but you’re an adult, and this is for entertainment purposes. If you want to get in touch with Mother Earth Asian-style, get a bonsai tree or those tiny turtles in miniature fish tanks. Chinatown is rife with designer knockoffs and cute fashion accessories that you can pick up on the cheap. So bring a big bag in the morning and don’t worry if the po-po gives you the twice over when they scan it, only to find that it’s almost empty. It won’t be, after lunch.

Eat a good breakfast before you go to jury duty, but go easy on the coffee. You don’t want to be too freakishly hyper for the eight excruciating hours you’re about to endure. You’ll also want to bring hand sanitizer and your own snacks and drinks. There are vending machines in the court house, but just know that if you’re on a diet, tough luck if you find any Weight Watcher snacks thoughtfully dangling for your 75 cents. And let’s not even mention some of the area restaurants – Zagat’s isn’t visiting these joints any time soon!

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Though it appears Courtney just cleared the court house security station, this is Not appropriate court room attire.

This little section here is dedicated to you female attorneys:
I’d like to send out a gracious nod to those of you who have no clue how to dress yourselves (you know who you are). A red velvet blazer over a brown linen gunnysack dress in the middle of May is even a sight for sore eyes for the blind. Shoot me an email, and I’ll hook you up from head to toe so that any jury you pick will be putty in your hands!

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Finally, a few insightful observations and epiphanies that I learned at jury duty:

- The guys who show up for jury duty with slicked back hair and power suits are the same guys who bury their noses in their WSJ on the subway, instead of getting up for pregnant women or the elderly. They think they have some divine right to hog the crappy free computers that are provided while you’re “in the pool”.

- Fake Rollies are hot for summer. Who cares if they get wet?

- More people need to learn to cover their freakin mouths when they sneeze. You’re in a confined room with 149 other people, idiots! No, we don’t want to ingest your craptastic cooties.

- Cool people DO show up and serve. If for no other reason than to get the certificate saying they don’t have to do it again for another 6 years or more.

- Spearmint is my favorite kind of mint gum. I prefer it to all other mint flavors.

- Cleavage does not get you dismissed from duty. Quite the opposite.

- The dating scene in Manhattan is apparently so dry that even jury duty becomes a pick-up scene for some poor souls. There was even a tale in the free “juror literature” about two people who had recently met at jury duty and three months later were back at the court house for a marriage license. OK, romantic, but whatever – three’s a charm, baby: they’ll probably be back to the court house screaming ‘I don’t!’ within a year. (Cynical DeBergerac…that’s me!)

- Last but not least, all the whining and postponing in the world won’t get you out of it, so just grin and bear it (and maybe invest in a clever vanity tee that says Proud NRA member, or I’d Rather Be Hunting).

Originally published May 2007
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