Me, The Jury

By Tony Kornheiser, The Washington Post, Sunday, June 22, 1997

	I am being held hostage by the government.

	All week long I have been on call for jury duty in the District of
	Columbia.  But so far I have not been selected.  I really want to serve
	on a jury, because (1) it is my patriotic duty as an American citizen
	and a participant in the democratic process, and (2) you don't go to
	work and they have to pay you anyway, hahaha.

	I think it's really cool to be on a jury.  Take the O.J. jury -- the
	people on that jury got book deals, and they got on "Nightline," and
	some of them even got to meet Greta Van Susteren!  They were always
	being written about in the newspapers:  "Juror No. 1, a 36-year-old
	Caucasian male with a master's degree, who works for a high-tech
	corporation."  Throw in a line about how "he likes to hunt and fish,"
	and you've got "The Dating Game."

	I wonder what they'd write about me.  "Juror No. 4, a fat, bald, old,
	whiny Caucasian man who dresses like a vagrant and has complained
	incessantly about the texture of the toilet paper in the jury lavatory."

	Emergency update:  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my friend Gino,
	whose roof fell in, dumping a ton of carpenter ants into his home.
	Well, I am happy to report that Gino got everything back together and
	repaired just in time for the big storm Thursday evening.  A bolt of
	lightning struck in his back yard, toppling a tree, darting through the
	ground, up into his house's electrical system, making a beeline for the
	room with the new roof, and roaring out and over his surge protector,
	frying his two computers, a fax machine and a printer.  I will continue
	updating this story as it develops.  (Next week:  locusts.)

	Anyway, I have a vision of what I'd be like in the jury room, how I
	wouldn't have to say anything at all -- it would be obvious how smart I
	was, so the others would naturally elect me foreman.  The case would be
	murder one, a blockbuster.  I would solve it secretly from the jury box,
	because of my Sherlockian savvy and a lifetime of judging human behavior
	as a journalist.  During deliberations, I would bide my time, watching
	my poor clueless colleagues steamroll toward conviction, until I finally
	swayed them all to an acquittal by showing them the truth:  how the
	defendant had obviously been railroaded by the Real Killer, his adoring
	but secretly faithless wife.  Instead of merely delivering the verdict,
	I would point dramatically to her in the courtroom with an accusation,
	and she would fall to her knees, sobbing, and confess.
	Of course, with my luck, I'll get a civil dispute over who owns a

	But to use a court term, it is moot.  I'll never get on a jury.

	I'd be easy to bounce off a jury.  Any lawyer could do it with a few
	questions.  Humor columnists are in the business of writing outrageous,
	opinionated, totally indefensible things.

	Lawyer:  "So Mr. Kornheiser, you think you are without prejudice?"

	Me:  "Sure."

	Lawyer:  "Are you aware the defendant is an insurance agent?"

	Me:  "Sure."

	Lawyer (ruffling papers):  "May I direct you to a column you wrote in
	July of last year, where you said, and I quote:  "Insurance agents are
	just like big hairy water rats but not as cute, and if one of them is
	ever accused of a crime and I get on a jury he will fry like an egg?"

	Me:  "Er."

	Plus, what if they asked me typical jury-screening questions?

	Lawyer:  "So, Mr. Kornheiser, have you ever committed a crime?"

	Me (indignantly):  "No!"

	Lawyer:  "You mean you never stole anything? Ever?"

	Me:  "Um, do Dave Barry's jokes count?"

	A few years ago I had jury duty, and I never got selected.  I spent
	three full days sitting in a big room that smelled like disenfectant,
	along with about 80 other people waiting for my number to be called so I
	could be impaneled.  But my number was never called.  (I think I was the
	only one whose number wasn't called.  A Fed Ex guy delivering a package
	got called, and I didn't.
	I spent the entire day, from 8 to 4, watching the one TV in the room,
	which was locked in on PBS.  So you can ask me anything at all about the
	migratory habits of birds and flying insects in Oceania and I'll have an
	answer.  Those were the most boring three days of my life.  It felt like
	I had been chained to Dr. Art Ulene.

	I suppose I should be grateful for not being on a jury.  What if we were

	Being sequestered means that all of us on the jury have to do everything
	together.  We eat together.  We travel together.  We watch specially
	selected movies that could not possibly prejudice us, so they cannot be
	about crime or courts or lawyers or injustice.  Basically, it would be
	"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," over and over again.

	But what I'd really fear is if the other jurors found out I was a
	sportswriter.  Because as soon as people find out I'm a sportswriter,
	they start peppering me with questions:

	Who was better, Magic Johnson or Larry Bird?  Joe Montana or Joe
	Namath?  Yogi Berra or Secretariat?

	Could Babe Ruth have won gold medal in the giant slalom?
	Can you get Michael Jordan to write me a recommendation for college?

	Who would win if Joe DiMaggio played ping-pong against Martina
	Navratilova's cat?

	It happens.  It drives you crazy.
	I'd sooner be on trial.

(c) Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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