A lot of people have been asking me how I managed to get out of my first ever Jury Duty this week, considering I was called back three times before being dismissed.
Without getting into too many details of the case, believe me when I tell you the trial would have been desperately boring and is expected to last five-to-six weeks, which I find just vulgar in the extreme.
I have to tell you, it wasn’t looking good for me. My first escape attempt was by way of the “Extreme Financial Hardship” window the Judge may or may not choose to open depending on the would-be Juror’s fiscal realities. Sadly, despite the fact that such a trial would cause me immense monetary discomfort, I was unable to move the Judge with my accounts of the financially perilous lifestyle of a comic book website content producer/freelance entertainment writer with an employed-by-a-TV-chef-and-cookbook-author girlfriend, and I was ordered to return for the second and third rounds of Jury selection.
My second escape attempt was by way of the Conflict of Interest window the Judge may or may not open depending on how conflicted he determines a would-be juror’s interests to be. As the suit was brought against a Very Big Oil Company, I feltobliged to reveal that my family had been in the oil business, with my grandfather serving as an executive in the Iraqi National Oil Company (which is true). Additionally, I said, close family friends had worked for the very oil company named in the lawsuit (which is true), and other close friends had worked for competing entities, creating products similar to the one named in the lawsuit (also true). As such, I “confessed” I would be inclined — without yet knowing any of the potentially mitigating facts — to find in favor of the defendant (probably not true).
I found myself sitting in the Jury Box (in the #3 position) and listening to attorneys explain condescendingly the differences between a civil suit and a criminal trial — “It’s not quite like you’ve seen on television, oh ho ho no!”
We broke for lunch and I began to panic. Please understand, I believe in Jury Service and have been looking forward to it my entire life. If you know me, then you know nothing would please me more than to decide who lives and who dies. Truthfully, I’m furious my first jury summoning came at age 27, when I find myself too genuinely busy to devote myself to five or six weeks of justice. I mean, if it was a murder or rape case I would have been less apprehensive, obviously, but come on! Why couldn’t this happen when I was in my early 20s and unemployed with nothing better to do but get drunk in Long Beach with Dennis Culver?
As I said, I was freaking out so I decided to read some of the book I’d brought along, oPtion$: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs by Fake Steve Jobs, which details in total, brilliant lies how Apple CEO Steve Jobs dealt with a back-dated stock options investigation put forth against him by the ambitious US Attorney Francis X. Doyle and his associate William Poon.
In the chapters I read during lunch, Steve Jobs was called into a conference room to be officially questioned by the US Attorneys. I read the following passage just before being called back into Court….
Doyle and Poon sit directly across from me. Doyle does the talking. Poon just sits there glaring at me and sliding questions to Doyle. They start out with easy questions, like my name, my date of birth, and my title at Apple. For each question, no matter what he asks, I pause for three minutes, with my hands pressed together. Then I ask Doyle to repeat the question. On questions that are more complicated than name, rank and serial number, I look for tiny discrepancies between the way he asks the first time and the way he asks the second time, and then I ask him which question he'd like me to answer.
It's a strategy called "Zen Crazy," which I learned in the seventies when I was studying at the Los Altos Zen Center. The concept comes from Zen monasteries. Certain monks go bonkers from the isolation and turn into these super annoying assholes who go around bugging the shit out of the other monks. In Buddhism these guys are tolerated, and even revered, because it's divine. And even though what they're saying may appear to be random or senseless, it often contains some higher truth.
I walked back into court, my eyes brighter than the light of a thousand suns.
After four hours of questioning --during which I endeavored to be as annoying, disingenuous and relentlessly equivocal as possible -- the Judge and the attorneys convened. When they returned I was thanked for my service and asked to leave.
Much love, Fake Steve. Namasté.