Snow caps Mt. Baldy, reminding me of a huge Christmas cake topped with icing, standing so tall and majestic as it moves slowly through my side window, on my way into downtown Los Angeles, for my approximately 20th visit to the criminal courthouse.

My purpose for being present in this particular courtroom is that a close and treasured friend and confidant is involved in the business of law, the consequences of breaking or breaching the "law of the land", and the punishment that follows when justice has been done.  My immediate emotion is that I thank God I am an honest member of the community, for no other reason than the thought of being locked up in a small cell for any amount of my life, be it two years or the balance of my years on this planet fills me with horror.

It's interesting to see the accused sitting quietly before the judge and to think that he or she (it is nearly always a male, that I have seen) is the only person that truly knows his or her guilt or innocence.  Imagine the time and money that would be saved if they simply told the whole truth.

There is one element about jury selection that is somewhat predictable, and that is the excuses given by the few in an effort to avoid jury duty, and of course the excuses range from the pathetic to the absurd.  What they do not know is that you are sadly mistaken if you think you will be sent home.  Instead, if sent away from the more interesting criminal cases, you are immediately sent to the civil court just down the road.  I must admit that usually I am a touch bored by this ritual of selecting twelve jurors and the required amount of alternative jurors.  However, today I had the pleasure to see unwind before my eyes, out of the sixty possible jurors, the delivery of the most original reasons for not wanting to be on the jury I have yet encountered.  It was truly the most entertaining jury selection I have ever had the pleasure of observing.  It was a joy to behold.  Today we had what I can only call the most ridiculous quantity of questions and pleas offered up to the judge.  An example of this is, as the defendant is accused of attempted robbery with a firearm, upon hearing the charge, a lady of middle age asked the judge if she could be excused due to the fact that twelve years ago, a family member had been robbed and that she gets migraine and anxiety attacks when she thinks of it.

Once again, I thank my wonderful friend for allowing me to be his privileged guest in this most vital of American institutions, which we call a court of law, a place where the evil of the worst of men can be judged by his peers and sent into the hell of the prison system, where I understand they are paid back for their mindless, vicious, criminal actions.  These thoughtless bastards hopefully get a huge dose of revenge, which if nothing else, levels the human playing field just a little.




John Levene



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