Jury duty is second only to filing taxes on the list of Things Americans Hate to Do. I'm here to change that. Having spent the past two days at jury duty, I can say with confidence that it is one of the most entertaining things I have ever done (take that as you will). Why write about it here? Because I would like to propose that it becomes a new TV show: a spin-off of The Office and Parks and Recreation that documents the jury selection process in a suburban courthouse.
I don't know quite how to describe the absurdity that ensued (although everyone knows a version of it), so instead, I'll just list off a few things I learned - or that I knew, but were confirmed for me - observing the process.
1) All Americans are either pretentious, crazy, or stupid (or some combination of the three): I knew it would all be downhill when so many people couldn't follow instructions that the administrative assistant had to lecture a room full of functioning adults on how to fill out a form.
2) As a general rule, people are not good liars, especially when it comes to pretending to be prejudiced (which is surprising, given that most of us are, in fact, quite prejudiced).
3) People who like to schmooze should not be allowed to be judges: I could elaborate, but let's just say this Phil Dunphy of a character referred to every female in the room - ages 18 to 80 - as "young lady."
4) Conciseness is not a strong suit of most Americans. If you're going to BS your way out of serving, please do it immediately, and save everyone else the time. A fifteen-minute story about how you were pulled over by a police officer 23 years ago and how the experience has tainted your view of traffic violations really isn't in anyone's best interest. I have never thought the words "TMI" more in my life.
5) The sixth amendment should be further amended: in addition to "the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury," the defendant should have "the right to a private room and a television to watch all six seasons of LOST (or the equivalent) while the jury selection process is taking place." As if being on trial isn't enough.
In this new show (which will air in Two and Half Men's old time slot), the judge, clerk, bailiff, recorder, and attorneys would be recurring characters, while the defendant and potential jurors would change each time (but of course there would be the Dwight Schrute of the group who came un-summoned to every selection - with the hopes of being seated - just to be a good citizen).
Basically, Jury Duty will be like The Office, but with no windows and the risk of perjury.