For Great Justice!

I’m writing this post from the jury waiting room at the Madison County Courthouse, where I’m doing my civic duty. By blogging, apparently.

This is my second time being called for jury duty. Or, rather, my second time reporting for jury duty.

Back in ye olde days in Indianola, I got called pretty frequently, but always got excused ahead of time. It was a win-win situation, I suppose — my boss didn’t want me to be gone, since we had such a small staff, and odds are I wasn’t going to be able to serve anyway, since I covered police and courts and thus new all the players and many of the cases, so it saved them having to eliminate me.

That said, I kind of would have liked to serve. Covering courts, it would have been interesting to experience it from the other side, to find out what it was like to be behind-the-scenes as a juror. (And if one of us had ever been selected as a grand juror — I can only imagine. We would have found a way to serve if that had happened. To have every record, every official, every room of every public agency open to us? Yeah, wow, I can only imagine.)

So it was kind of exciting three years ago when I got called for jury duty in Madison County for the first time, and having no reason that I couldn’t report.

And it was, indeed, an interesting experience, albeit not in the way I had hoped. I learned a lot about being a juror, but without actually serving on a jury. Really, it was not unlike the wonderful learning experiences of my two trips to see shuttle flights scrubbed. It’s very much a part of the reality of the experience, but not the reality I had hoped for.

But the Circuit Clerk did a great job of explaining the importance of the “nothing” that I did. Court doesn’t move forward without jurors. Pleas are entered, settlements are reached, largely when cases are about to go before a jury. And that doesn’t happen unless there are potential jurors. So by sitting in the jury waiting room, I’m very much helping resolve cases.

So yesterday and today, I’ve been dispensing justice … by blogging, Twittering, reading, texting, Facebooking, etc. Again, not what I’d hoped for, but isn’t it nice to know, as you’re reading this blog entry, that while I was writing it, I was bringing criminals to justice?

Thus far, I have been called in for the jury selection for one case, but, after going through the voire dire, was rejected, either because of my ex-wife or my ex-fiancee, I’m not sure which. But definitely not my fault. (Yes, I know fiancee needs an accent mark, but I don’t know how to make one on this computer, even though it’s easy on what I’m used to. I’m here doing my civic duty, and they thank us with Windows machines. Still, MUCH better than nothing, so I’m grateful.)

Jurors have been called for jury selection for other cases, but I haven’t been selected to even be part of those selections. They’re expecting another round this afternoon, so we’ll see.


OK, I may have been wrong yesterday.

Upon further thought, there’s really not much I need to say about my talk (which was Saturday, not Friday as I wrote yesterday).

I gave a talk to the North Alabama Science Fiction Associiation Saturday about my book, Homesteading Space, basically the same lecture I gave once back in March. Because of everything going on this weekend, my plans to actually review my PowerPoint and notes before didn’t come to fruition, so there were times that I was talking about one slide with no clue what was on the next one. It made for an interesting experience. I definitely got to draw on my improv talents.

And that was something that became very obvious during this one — that’s what I enjoy most about giving these talks, is combining my writer world with my improv world. I enjoy sharing information that I’m passionate about, but it makes me happy to be able to make it interesting and accessible, and I love being able to make people laugh during the talks. In fact, that was one of the highlights of Saturday’s talk — there was a joke that was sort of integral to the presentation, meaning that I couldn’t skip it, that fell completely flat when I gave the talk back in March. This time, it worked, beautifully. Sublime.

The NASFA group was a great audience, and it was really fun sharing with them.

I still hope to get another opportunity to do this again before too long.