Why I’m so excited for jury duty today. A Dave Matthews fan gets a rare surprise. And this “The Butler” movie looks awesome

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Ninety-nine percent of the U.S. population will disagree with me on this.

But I am so, so damn excited for my first-ever trip to court for jury duty today. Been looking forward to it for weeks. Weeks!

I can just hear you screaming “What?” Americans do everything possible to avoid this fate. They fake illnesses. They concoct wild stories about their workplace. I even once heard about a guy who hid in his house and didn’t answer his phone when he was supposed to show up for jury duty.

But I never understood these people, because my whole life I’ve always wanted the chance to be a juror. First of all, I think it’s a fascinating part of our job as citizens: Every once in a great while, we are asked to help decide the fate, guilty or not guilty, of one of our fellow citizens. That’s a tremendous power to have.

Second, I’ve seen “12 Angry Men” so many times that I can practically give you the movie line by line. Of course I know it doesn’t always work that way in real life, but still, to be in a jury room and get to have a spirited back and forth about a person’s innocence or guilt, with people from wildly different backgrounds and have had wildly different experiences than me? Sounds like a great time.

Finally, I just think it’s a chance to actually get to give something back. We take so much for granted in the country; even when things are terrible, for most of us they’re still pretty good compared to how much of the world lives.

For all that we are given, getting to do your legal duty and be a juror seems a small price to pay.

I’ve been waiting my whole adult life for this. Not sure why I was never called until now; at first I thought it was because I was a journalist, and they know we can never be impartial or have no opinion about a case, I guess.
But nope, even after my career changed and I kept voting here in N.Y., I was still never called.

Finally, though, my day has arrived. I’m ready, baby. I don’t care if it’ll be boring today or tomorrow, I don’t care how long the questioning takes; just give me a shot to be a part of our criminal justice system, and I’m one happy dude.

Yes, I know I’m strange. But I can’t wait to get started.

**I don’t usually get excited about movie preview trailers; in the theater, they’re just an impediment to the reason I bought the ticket, and I usually don’t care if I miss it.

But I saw one in the multiplex the other day for this new Forest Whitaker movie called “The Butler,” based on the real-life White House experiences of an African-American man who served eight Presidents, and I could hardly contain my excitement.
Just look at some of the cast: Jane Fonda. John Cusack (playing Richard Nixon! My mind is spinning contemplating Lloyd Dobler now playing Tricky Dick). Liev Schreiber. Alan Rickman. Terrence Howard. Robin Williams (as Dwight Eisenhower). Oprah. Vanessa Redgrave. Melissa Leo.

I mean, that’s a hell of a cast. And then the trailer, which I’ve watched several times now, has me completely riveted. It’s coming out in about a month; I definitely will be there.

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**Finally today, a sweet celebrity encounter. Seems Dave Matthews was out for a pre-concert bike ride in Hershey, PA last weekend when he got a flat tire, and didn’t have a cell phone with him. (Dave, Dave, Dave, bike-riders of the world tsk tsk)

Fan Emily Knaus was on her way to the show with her boyfriend and stopped to help the stranded biker, not knowing who it was.
Matthews was so grateful for the ride to the show, he gave Emily and her boyfriend seats, and took them to dinner afterwards.

Very cool gesture, Mr. Matthews.

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2 responses to “Why I’m so excited for jury duty today. A Dave Matthews fan gets a rare surprise. And this “The Butler” movie looks awesome

  1. Can’t wait to hear about your experience. The first time I got called for jury duty was when I was 18. The case centered on whether the guy running the XXX-movie theater in town was violating a local pornography ordinance. (He pleaded out, and I never served.) The only other time I was called was for a murder trial 15 years ago. I was dismissed immediately because I was the editor on the story, and I have never been called since. I’m like you, I’d love to do it. I’ve been a NY resident all my life and I vote every year. They just never call. Go figure.

  2. I recently served on a manslaughter case, involving an accident and a resulting death caused by the defendant racing away from the police. It was a fabulous experience. Learning about police procedures, watching security videos and then discussing the case with my fellow jurors for two days was an experience not to be forgotten. Although I thought Henry Fonda was sequestered with us, a unanimous decision was reached on the final day. I would sign up again for it tomorrow.

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