The summons stared me in the face like an angry, arms crossed child. Neither of us wanting to give in to the others wants and needs yet both knowing there was only going to be one winner. A summons for jury duty, reissued as a continuance had already been granted. Myself not really wanting to be there, instead only thinking of the re-arrangements to our already taxed schedule. But as 0630 rolled around and we stared at each other with contempt, I blinked first, the jury summons won thus off to The Halls of Justice we went. (Cant type it without hearing the justice league cartoon)
Standing in line with other prospective jurors it was blatantly obvious no one wanted to be positioned in front of this building. I meandered slowly towards the door, belt in one hand, anything metal in the other, doing my best to not look annoyed as I proceeded through a metal detector. Once inside I quickly found a seat and the waiting began.
Several times instructions were read. Our summons clearly states all blanks on the reverse side should be completed prior to arrival on your assigned date. Apparently only 10% of us understood the instructions or even bothered to read this nasty little note. Finally a representative arrived and began reading from a list of names. There were to be three groups. One group assigned to courtroom 207, the other assigned to 208 and the third group was to stand by as alternates. No one wants to be in the alternate group as there is no timetable assigned. Either you are released right away or kept all day long as jury selection trudges forward.
So a little known secret. I love jury duty! Seriously, I think jury duty rocks! I have been on a jury and was picked to be the foreman! It took four days total and was very interesting. You really have no solid foundation for how our justice system works until you have been on a jury! But under my current circumstances it was not appealing at all. But I was there and would perform my civic duty regardless.
As a young gal stood at a podium reading names for group one and two, I secretly wished they’d call my name. I know I needed to be at Stanford, and as confusing as it is, I also knew I wanted to be on a jury, it’s kind of like the two biggest kids on the playground picking teams! You pray you are not one of the last two kids left with two captain’s arguing over which one of you sucks less! So I sat, listening to an alphabetic order, praying F would be for me! Well I ended up in group three. Bummer, the dreaded unknown!
Then something happened, they readjusted their numbers and just like that! I was headed to courtroom 208! Five minutes later they excused all alternate jurors! DAMNIT!!! I could not win! So I resigned myself to a possibility of four or five day’s jury duty. Sitting in the courtroom trying my hardest to listen to our judge I couldn’t focus! I kept thinking about my wife, laying there wondering when I would arrive. Then it was the kids, how will I get them where they need to be all week-long? But the final straw was when I realized I had no idea what the judge was saying! I had been sitting in the courtroom for 45 minutes and the only thing I remembered was raising my right hand to be sworn in! Also I had become overly stressed out over my phone being completely shut down! One of the rules of the courtroom! What if Jacy needed to reach me, or her mom or dad? There was no way I was going to be able to survive this and still care about the defendant’s right to a fair trial!
The judge asked at 1145 for all jurors who felt they had a valid hardship in conjunction with fulfilling their obligation to serve to please form a line outside. She also asked anyone who felt they would have an issue with serving to please raise their hand. 30 people raised hands, all grumbling as they did so. I did not. No way was I going to be a slacker! Good men and women have died for our freedoms and with those freedoms come the responsibility to fulfill our obligations. We Americans have one of the best judicial systems in the world. It may be flawed but it beats the hell out of being thrown in jail to rot with no rights at all! So this guy wasn’t going to be one of those guys! That’s right! Damn proud to be an American!!
11:45- The line is long. I am third from last.
Oh shut up! I hear y’all now grumbling about all that patriotic shit I just spewed! The long and the short of it? There was no way I was even close to being able to pay attention. As conflicting as it was for once it was about me, my needs, and the needs of my family. I was sorry for the defendant, but I didn’t put him there and my wife needed me! End of story!
Walking up to the podium, lump in my throat, I really did feel guilty. The judge was really awesome, from the beginning she was funny, with great dialogue! She reminded me of Judge Harry from the TV sitcom Night court!
I placed both hands on the podium looked up at her as she said hello. I shook my head (I think she could tell I was bothered by what I was about to do) and said: I feel guilty standing here right now.
Judge: I have that effect on people!
Judge: What is your name for the record?
Me: James Franceschi
Judge: Go ahead Mr. Franceschi
Me: I didn’t raise my hand earlier and for that I am sorry but you see my wife, well my wife had a bone marrow transplant in July. This date today was my rescheduled summons, a date I picked because she was supposed to be home by now. She is not. She has had every ailment possible and continues to struggle through setbacks at Stanford hospital. Therefor I don’t believe I would be a good pick for this jury as my mind is obviously elsewhere.
Judge: family is the most important thing and should come first.
Me: Thank you, and please understand I am who you would want on a jury. Every time I am called I look forward to being picked and the last time I was here I was not only picked but the other jurors picked me to be the jury foreman as well! I had an amazing experience serving as a juror.
Judge: Thank you for your service Mr. Franceschi and let’s just say this ones on me! Your service here is complete and thank you again. The court wishes the best to you and your wife.
Me: Thank you judge
As I walked from the podium I heard the judge say thank you again and that she wished others could have heard my testimony. Slightly embarrassed, I quietly said thank you again and after a moment with the bailiff I was on my way. I hope one day I am called again and it is in her courtroom so I can be a part of her machine. I am sure anyone who serves under this judge comes away with a smile.
Two hours later I was with my wife. When I am with her my blood pressure drops, my head stops hurting a little, my heart beats a little slower, my smile grows a little larger.
I busted Jacy out of her room for a stroll to the fountain. We found a shaded seat as she cannot be in the sun and even with a mask on her face I saw her smile through her eyes. The warm breeze upon her skin, the sound of water crashing down and a duck or two chatting away in the distance. It was amazing just being by her side, knowing it is, was and always will be where I am supposed to be.
After we had all the sun and fun we could stand, I rolled her back inside where she proceeded to walk not one, but two laps around the quad. This girl wants to go home and bad! Of course this left her exhausted and within a few minutes she was fast asleep holding my hand.
Two hours later the day was gone and I needed to say goodbye. I hate saying goodbye. I still hate walking out the door. But I do so knowing she is being taken care of by some of the best human beings I have had the privilege to meet. I love her and so do they. It shows every time I arrive and am greeted with a smile.
This week she is starting another experimental drug to help control her bleeding bladder. Please continue to pray for rapid healing as prolonged exposure to this drug can leave irreversible damage. But it is our only rational option. I say this because the other two options, the way I understand them would leave her either on dialysis for the rest of her life or incontinent.
A day that started out with possibly twelve angry men ended with one happy wife and one humbled husband who is always glad to have another opportunity to simply hold my wife’s hand..