Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Jury-Rigged: THG's Tales of Judicial Inaction

I now know why shows like 'Law & Order: Original Recipe' compress the entire timeline of crime, investigation and court case into one zippy hour-long program. Because nobody would ever watch what really goes on in the hallowed halls of American courthouses.

While most people were shaking off the final effects of a four-day hangover in order to get back to work today, I was pulling down $15 tax-free dollars (woo-hoo!) PLUS parking validation as a prospective juror here in Baltimore County.

I've been registered to vote since the day I could do so, but had never been called until the summons that recently appeared in my mailbox. After getting up at 6 AM so I could put the finishing touches on a client project, I gathered up some reading material (two issues of Sports Illustrated and the latest CHOW), dressed in "appropriate" attire, and headed to the courthouse for my glimpse at American Justice In Action... wait, make that "Inaction."

After checking in at the desk (a process that required not one, not two, but three county employees to: 1) check my name off a list; 2) validate my parking ticket; 3) hand me my $15; and, 4) have me sign a sheet of paper) I sat down with the rest of the poor slobs who couldn't believe that this was how they were ringing in the new year.

The rest of the morning is a blur of articles I couldn't be sure I hadn't read before, a rambling speech by a county employee that made airlane safety instructions practically riveting, and an equally thrilling close-captioned video followed by a public service announcement asking me to give money to underpriveliged jurors or something like that.

But the highlight surely came with the screening of Wes Craven's MUSIC OF THE HEART, the powerful tale of a white broad who ventures into a Harlem school to teach poor kids how to play the violin. Originally slated to star Madonna (!), the flick is just as great as it sounds, though the Lifetime-like story directed by the pretentious horror hack had more than a few folks in the waiting area riveted to the screen. (Frankly, I wanted to give them the $15 back and tell them to invest in some more movies. When my wife served jury duty a year or so ago at the same courthouse guess which feel-good flick about a white broad who teaches inner city kids the violin she got to see? Here's a hint... I think there's only one.

Mercy arrived in the most unlikely of forms... we were being called up as potential jurors for a civil case that was being tried. Here's where I began formulating my plan to run for governor and introduce a plan to create a system of professional jurors. We were herded into a courtroom where the plaitiff, defendents and at least a half-dozen lawyers sat. One by one our juror number was called so that we could stand up and say our name.

Then the introductions began... of the plaintiff, the defendents, the lawyers for both sides, the witnesses, and the potential witnesses. Once any relations (or non-relations) between prospective jurors and these people were made, the judge set about asking questions that would establish any problems we'd have with sitting on the jury. Were we involved in land development? Were we familiar with the property in question? Did we know anybody that was involved in real estate development? All leading to the inevitable appearance by Crazy Old Guy Who's Probably Not As Old As He Looks who wanted to know if his relationship with his cousin who was a real estate agent in the 80s would have an impact on his selection to the jury.

As the minutes ticked by I almost felt bad for the judge, knowing she probably has to deal with this same bullshit each and every day. But with each passing minute I got hungrier and hungrier, crankier and crankier. Luckily, it all worked out in my favor, which was partially why I kept my mouth shut when the judge asked if anybody had any reason they couldn't sit on the jury if the case ran through Friday. "Sure," I thought, "I'm self-employed and every second I'm sitting here making roughly $3 an hour is KILLING MY BUSINESS!" But I resisted the urge, kept my mouth shut, and watched as the rude, loud-mouth know-it-all I was sitting next to got picked for the jury while I was released for a 90-minute lunch break.

Which is how it all comes back to food. Feeling flush with my $15 I headed right down the street to Kyodai, a rotating sushi bar located on West Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson (410-339-7500). Chris first went here a few months ago for lunch with a friend and then took me for lunch on my birthday. Though I've always enjoyed San Sushi Too/Thai One On (located right across the street), they let me down on occasion (like Saturday night when I picked up $80+ worth of sushi only to discover later on that they'd forgotten one of the rolls despite having them check the order twice).

Kyodai, on the other hand, has never let me down. A small dining area is dwarfed by a sizable and comfy bar which features a small conveyor belt that's constantly running along the top. Small, color-coded plates with see-through lids glide along the top holding all manner of sushi bar delicacies: the warm Dynamite Roll with its thick chunks of tuna; the Ultimate Tuna Roll featuring spicy tuna, avocado and seared tuna; a roll with shrimp tempura, crabmeat and more avocado; the absurd but popular Philly Roll with cream cheese and salmon; seaweed salad; deep fried tofu; vegetable rolls and much more. Sushi chefs who work in the bar's central cooking area are constantly preparing new dishes and placing them on the conveyor.

My only fear is that Kyodai isn't doing the business it should. I've been there four times in the last six or seven weeks and there's rarely a crowd that reaches double figures. I always ask the host (who may be the Tony Yan of the business card I pulled from the counter) how business is and he always tells me that it's going well, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

1 comment:

Hitch Magazine said...

I'm jealous that you got paid beforehand. OKC pays roughly four to six weeks later, but we get a fat $20 a day.