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In July of 1996, Jay Levine sat on the jury of a small criminal case in New York City. It involved two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigated the crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecuted the offenders. These are their stories. DUN DUN!

Jury Duty i (1/15)

July 1, 1996

Choose a different dreamscape

I sit in this immense amphitheater – once again plagued by the suspicion of potential burrowing eyes. A casual glance; a surreptitious gander… it all contributes to the unpleasant sensation of acute lack of privacy. I’m clearly out of practice with all this: arm aches already and I write in nearly indecipherable scratches, and tiny ones to avoid and escape detection. 

What a gas this place is tho: a grand cross section of NY life. At least, I assume it’s a cross-section, a random sampling. That is, after all, what the jury pool is intended to provide. At 1st glance it might appear largely white + young – about like me. But there is a degree of ethnicity, no doubt – and this I suspect represents correct percentages for ethnicity in NYC? One guy, nearby, just received a call on cellular – and his disparate raised voice discussing various corporate strategies rises awkwardly through the otherwise largely hushed space…. All seats are nearly filled. I would say 150? And more people constantly arrive which means, quite soon, I will have to relinquish my ½ hold on left seat beside me, which I presently retain for my bag and as a pleasant buffer for privacy.

Anyway, we all sit + wait, apparently for them to call our #? Here we go! Loud.

So. 1st event over and done: a broadcast, amplified recitation of all the reasons we CAN’T be dismissed. Now a long line of desperate shirkers and wannabe shirkers lays siege to the desk; stating whatever various reasons they should be excused. The rest of us wait: time drags by: 9:22am –  a lot of newspaper folding and shaking going on; people nod out – some idle chit chat, but predominantly people retain an isolating sphere of don’t-bug-me.

Next stop: A short film! Here we go!

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