I had just turned eighteen, and before I’d even purchased my inaugural pack of smokes I came home from school to find a jury summons waiting for me. Bah. Lucky me, I’d been called to uphold one of our nation’s dearest held liberties through the workings of dual misfortunes: (1) I’d survived to the threshold age and (2) I’d not committed any felonies by then. Growing up in Miami in the eighties, it really was something of a perfect storm.
Daybreak on Monday morning saw me fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic to get downtown. With how dirty and dangerous downtown was then, you’d think people would be more concerned with leaving the place than cutting across three lanes of traffic just to get good parking. I found an open lot across from the courthouse, handed some weirdo five bucks to park there. The smell of booze on the guy was pungent; you could light his breath on fire.
By the time I reached the courthouse steps, there was already a line to get in. I joined the lockstep march to justice and was shunted into a security queue staffed by two big guys who likely moonlighted as nightclub bouncers. One of them, the guy with the magnetometer wand, held the device across his chest and thumped it in slow rhythm against the palm of his other hand. I would not have been surprised if his nameplate read “Warden,” but we’ll call him that just the same.
This story was featured in Author’s Voice, a publication of the South Florida Writers Association, September 2013, Issue 9.
This humorous stream of consciousness romp shows the weird side of serving as a juror in Miami’s justice system. A young man gets a jury summons for his eighteenth birthday, thanks to the dual misfortunes of having survived that long and not having committed any felonies along the way. Growing up in Miami in the eighties, it was something of a perfect storm.