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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

When There is No Plan B

Well, I was sprung from jury duty by a semi-understanding judge who had mercy on our schedule.  At 3:00 p.m. on the first day, he declared that they had reached their goal of 54 jurors without me.  These numbers would then be further winnowed down until the petit jury was actually seated.

Early in the day, his law clerk had passed to all of us 3×5 cards and pencils, asking if our religion prohibited us from sitting in judgment of another.  If it did, I was in big trouble-!  I passed judgment on myself and my kids about 100x each day….

I had no beef with the rule of law, though I did find it hard to grasp why we were instructed that we should give no additional weight to the testimony of a police officer than to the testimony of a drug dealer.  Lady Justice may be blind, but she’s not deaf and dumb….

But back to my situation.  As a homeschooling parent, how do I carve out a few days, or a couple of weeks for jury duty?

When the judge asked if any of us potential jurors had any extreeeeme hardships that may preclude us from serving, I made a note on my 3×5 card, and was later called to proceed to the bench.

‘Yes, Juror #123, would you please relate to the Court what is your extreme, and I emphasize extreme, hardship?” the Judge in robe and bowtie inquired.

“Your Honor, while it is indeed a privilege to be present today, I find myself in a logistical quandary.  I have four adopted children from Russia whom I homeschool, and, when I am here, I am not there.”

He was speechless.  Simply speechless.  The judge opened his mouth, but nothing came out.  He smiled.  At last he thought of a question, whether or not it had any bearing on the issue at hand, I’m unclear.

“And how old are the children?” he finally asked.

“Teens and one preteen.”

He paused again, then spoke.

“I could write you a note and ask the Jurors’ Commission to grant you a deferral for a later date….”

“Thank you, Your Honor,” I responded, “but there really is no better date.  I deferred until today, but I still need to educate them.  My husband is staying with them, but tomorrow he needs to leave town.  If he takes the children with him, he will be unable to do his work, and if I’m serving on a jury, the children will not be receiving instruction.”

“I see,” he nodded.

And then he asked two questions that flabbergasted me.  Perhaps it’s because we live an unusual lifestyle, or perhaps it speaks to the fact that many of us travel in our own circles and never meet many people who are unlike us.

His first question was:

“And what do you do when you get sick?”

“I don’t.  There’s no time to get sick,” I racked my brain, trying to imagine a time when I was taken to the bed, too ill to function.  Thankfully, I actually could not remember a time.  A sniffle upon occasion, or a sore throat, but SICK?

No, thank God.

He repeated himself, “But what do you do when you get sick?”

I hope he didn’t think I was lying.  Maybe he didn’t move in my circles.  For many women, not necessarily in my situation, becoming sick or taking a day off is not an option.  Mine was not due to poverty, but simply a sense of obligation instilled in me at a young age.  Even in grade school, I won awards for perfect attendance.  Why would I take time off as an adult, except for a vacation?

“Your Honor, there is no Plan B.  Life goes on and studies continue.”

Perhaps he was suggesting that I give the kids a day or two off, or bring in a babysitter on my $4 a day travel allowance from the court—which didn’t even cover the $4.05 metro ride one way during rush hour.  I certainly realize that I am not in the same financial straits in which a woman from another part of the same city might herself in, yet I find it difficult to believe that all of us should just drop everything and come to serve on a jury, taking off a week or so every two years.

For instance, Benedetto and I do a fair amount of public speaking.  If we are advertised as keynote speakers in a conference or seminar, how do we simply not show up when “duty calls”?  I know people who book themselves to speak practically every day (or night) of the year.  Do Jurors’ Offices understand this?  It’s not at all like when a temp can be hired to fill in and answer the phones for a day.

And the Judge’s second question was:

“Well then, how in the world will you ever be able to fulfill your civic duty?”

This also surprised me.  I thought of my many hours of volunteer work worldwide.  I considered how raising, and educating, and instilling values into four young people during extremely important years was apparently of no civic value-?  To my way of thinking, if we could keep them out of trouble, hopefully, there would be four less young adults clogging up the court system with cases like the one on which I was being asked to serve.

“Your Honor, I’m believing that these children will one day be educated, and that will free my time somewhat for other important matters.  This situation should not last forever.”

After interviewing additional jurors, he called me back to the bench and released me.  I felt that this was rather understanding of him.

In any event, it caused me to think.  I guess I have very little in terms of a support system—plenty of friends, most of whom work outside the home, and no relatives nearby.  My husband does much, much more than many husbands I know, yet he has his own responsibilities to fulfill.

Are you ever allowed to become sick, or absent?  Do you have a Plan B in place?



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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    Plan B = don’t get sick.

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