Well, it came time for prospective jury selection. We had to sit in the courtroom as the judge, defendant, prosecutor and public defender evidently did judicial shit. Looked like they were wasting time to me. The defendant was a young black kid, looked like he had turned eighteen about twenty minutes before, and for the first time, I was scared for this kid. I didn’t know what he did, but he looked scared. He had a look of fear on his face that must have been there for weeks leading up to this moment. A dire, dulled fear. He knew what lay ahead, as did I. Prison. It’s a scary fucking place. I have a friend in prison and I’ve visited him. It’s a collection of buildings built on crushing fear. This kid was going there, I could tell. And it broke my fucking heart.
Everyone has a suggestion as to how to get out of jury duty. Pretend to be racist, is one of the most popular. While I can act, I refuse to act like a racist unless it’s a good script and for a good reason. I couldn’t do that. Whatever happened to this kid, I didn’t want to be a part of it. If I didn’t get out of it, I’d be the one fucking hold out like Henry Fonda in “Twelve Angry Men.” Though much less righteous. I’ll hang this fucking jury for all the people I KNOW have been railroaded into prison. Yeah! (Remember how flawed I am?)
I decided that my only way out would be truth. An ally I both love and hate.
As they sent us out of the courtroom again to discuss, I thought about what I would say in the interview process. I had heard they often ask if you have any prejudices. I had a speech rumbling around in my mind, here it is, as best as I can remember it:
“Prejudices? Yeah. I got prejudices. I don’t believe we live in a society that believes in anything BUT prejudices! Anyone who is poor or not white, or god forbid both, know exactly this truth! Our justice system is the worst culprit. I thought it was ‘innocent until PROVEN guilty,’ but we know better, don’t we? It’s ‘guilty, now try to prove your innocence!’ I mean, just look at these two lawyers! One has a client whose family can barely make rent, let alone hire a private attorney, and the other represents a client that is one of the richest nations in the world! I read somewhere that the average budget for a public defender per client is $200. The prosecution has an unending coffer in which to dip his dirty hands to put anyone in prison, guilty or otherwise. Look at the difference in style each lawyer has! It seems obvious that the system favors the prosecution by virtue of the salary they each get. The prosecutor is perfectly groomed, and wears a rather expensive looking suit, while the public defender wears a crumpled suit that he’s obviously been wearing for days! Hell, he looks like he’s been sleeping in it! It’s his one and only suit. The prosecutor is wearing his first-Tuesday-of-the-month-suit, which is of course different from his second-Tuesday-of-the-month-suit! You make the prosecutor rich for sending people to prison, and make the public defender poor as punishment for daring to give the accused his constitutional right to counsel. Granted, maybe this particular public defender is just a slob, I don’t know…