Called to serve, willing to serve...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Called to serve, willing to serve...

...but denied the opportunity by a blonde beast with a badge and a ballistic vest, and a skinny young fellow of color who likely has a problem with, in the expression of Richard Pryor, "w-w-w-hitey."

Yesterday morning, I reported per my Jury Summons to the Arthur M. Cromarty Criminal Court Complex in Riverhead, made it through the security magnetometers without hav­ing to remove my belt or metal-framed eyewear, this after being told that I didn't have to serve because I was "over 70 years old."

Nowhere in the extensive instructions on the notification was this information imparted; in fact, it states, in bold print:

"There are NO exemptions from jury service. Everyone who is eligible MUST SERVE."

And despite the "There is no upper age limit," assertion on the N.Y. State Courts website, the informal reason, openly stated by two separate members of the Court Security detail and a staffer in the Commissioner of Jurors office, "We're not allowed because it would be discrimination."

(Big OtBB Scoop, and remember, you read it here first: if one is 70 years of age or older, there's a default exemption from Jury Duty!)

I, however, elected to do my civic duty and serve, and yesterday went well, culminating with the instruction from the trial judge to report back at 11:00 am today.

No sooner than I had cleared the security check point and was proceeding to the 4th floor "jury bullpen," when a blaring horn sounded and people in uniform quickly as­serted control, directing everyone to leave the building and go as far as we could across Evans K. Griffing Drive into the lee of the building to the East.

(While the official story is that it was just a "Fire Drill," in response to a "Drill or pulled?" inquiry by a Suffolk County Police Officer already on the scene, a Court officer replied sotto voce "Pulled.")

Following almost an hour of cooling our heels in the chilly shade, the signal to re-enter was given, first the court em­ployees, then the rest of us... you know, the ones that Leona Helmsley dismissed as "the little people."

Then everyone alternately stood-and-shuffled in a seem­ing­ly interminable line even though there were two portals operating.

When it was finlly my turn again, I dropped everything, cell' 'phone, keys... including the coins in my pocket... into the plastic tray provided, and marched through the scanner; when the buzzer sounded I stepped to the young black guard with my arms raised preparing to be "wand­ed" as I had on both previous occasions.

"Step back through," he commanded, and I did, won­der­ing what I'd missed.

"Make sure everything's out of your pockets," the blonde beast, etc., directed, and I did, forthwith and with a right good will.

"Take your belt off, too!" she added, and I complied.

When I went through the magnetometer, it again sound­ed, causing the a repeat of the previous exercise... this time I put my wallet and a Pilot G-2 (with a 07 point) in a second tray.

Again the scanner found fault and rudely alerted... back to the starting line when this time I found an overlooked penny in a trousers pocket.

That joined my wallet and ballpoint pen is the tray, and when I went to remove my leather jacket, the increasingly shrill blonde beast, etc. said "NO!" and insisted that I leave it on.

The third attempt was no charm, and I was thoroughly mystified as I retraced my steps.

"We're not playing games here," the blonde beast, etc., snarled, pushing the plastic trays at me. "Out!"

I had to ask... "'Games?' What are you talking about?"

"Get out!" she said forcefully! "Wanna play games? Go!"

"I don't know what games you're talking about," I said incredulously as I began repacking my pockets and re-threading my belt.

"No more games!" she muttered above her breath!

"There's been no games," I insisted as I finished collecting my stuff.

"BE QUIET!" yelled the skinny black guard, all 6'1" 140 pounds of him, from the other side if the scanner. "LEAVE NOW!"

I just looked at him, reluctantly quashing any further response.

With the blonde beast, etc., continuing her "Stop playing games" invective and the skinny black guard glowering at me, I turned and left the area, passing a long line, two and three abreast, all of whom had been patiently waiting for the mini-drama in which I had been an unwitting participant.

I noted with some minor satisfaction, that I passed more expressions of curiosity than reproval or censure.


When I spoke with the Commissioner of Jurors' officer several hours later, I learned:

  1. No report on an obstreperous, "games-playing" juror had been filed there;
  2. They would be sending me a check of $80 for the two days I'd showed up to serve;
  3. The official line was still that the evacuation had been as a result of a "Fire Drill."

Although I have never in my entire life begged off a jury duty summons, in the future I think I'll avail myself of the perogatives of my age... this will have been my swan song!

My sole regret is that I think I would have enjoyed participating in a trial presided over by the Honorable William J. Condon.


1. Crabby said...

I have noticed over the last few years, in any dealings at the County Centers, the staff being incredibly rude and vindictive.

I am NOT pleased, as a voting, law abiding, tax-paying citizen that I or any other human be treated in the way you describe.

Civilian complaints should be addressed seriously, and notations in the civil servant's file should be made each time there is a complaint.

Enough of this nasty behavior. I strongly advise their supervisors take note, and address the ubiquitous, malignant attitude issues of their rank and file.

Probably not going to happen... CSEA and so forth. But I agree with your observations and sentiments.

2. Robert I. Ross said...

You should notify the Administrative Judge. This was totally unacceptable.

Absolutely unacceptable! 50 years ago I would have run amok, but hey! It is my experience that running it up to such a higher authority will engender a patronizing smile and a flabby explanation like "You'll have to excuse them... they were probably out of sorts over the false alarm call." But I'll tuck that suggestion away for future consideration.

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