Your RDA of Irony

Juris Imprudence

Michael Rankin, a fellow relic from Jeopardy and welcome correspondent here, is now the object of my envy.  Mr. Rankin will be lending–or at least renting–his wisdom and sensitivity to the California judical system.  In other words, he has jury duty.  I have always wanted to serve on a jury.  Here in Cook County, a juror receives $17.20 a day which is a fortune for a freelance writer.

I have been called a number of times to jury duty, but I am always rejected.  I must be more of a threat to Western Civilization than I realized.  Am I really such a threat to life, limb and liberty?

Here is how I would judge the following cases…

Athens, 399 B.C.  Socrates is guilty; however, I wouldn’t have convicted him of corrupting youth.  Youth is inherently corrupt, and you can only imagine how spoiled the brats of Athens were.  However, teachers are supposed to impose some constraints on their little monsters.  Socrates abysmally failed.  The parents of Plato could forget about grandchildren.  And what did Alcibiades learn?  During the Peloponnesian War, he managed to betray Athens, Sparta and Persia;  he probably cheated the Chinese and the Mayans, too.  My verdict:  Socrates would have to refund everyone’s tuition.

Jerusalem, 29 A.D. Jesus is guilty of practicing medicine without a license.  I don’t care if he did cure lepers; he still needed malpractice insurance.  For instance, a cured leper now will keep his fingers but what if those fingers then become arthritic.  Jesus could be sued–and I’d be stuck on that jury as well.  My verdict:  ten shekels for court costs and a restraining order keeping Jesus thirty yards from the crippled, blind and dead.

Rouen, 1431.  Joan of Arc is guilty of something.  In France being a 18 year old virgin is tantamount to treason.  Furthermore, she obviously was not conversing with France’s favorite saints.  Given their heavenly omniscience, wouldn’t those saints have told Joan to forget about the English and start worrying about the Germans?  My verdict:  Joan can continue to wear men’s clothing but only if it is a straitjacket. 

Massachusetts, 1692:  Guilty, guilty, guilty.  The evidence of Satan is incontrovertible.  The afflicted speak in arcane gibberish, they mock and abuse the unpossessed, and they think themselves superior to God.  My verdict:  Harvard must be immediately closed.  (Oh, did you have a question about Salem?)

Paris, 1894.  Captain Dreyfus is guilty of gullibility.  Did he really think that those French aristocrats wouldn’t be Anti-Semitic?  Couldn’t he take a hint:  the other officers received epaulets and he got a “Kick Me” sign.  My verdict:  Twenty Franc fine for trespassing.

Dayton, Tennessee, 1925John Scopes is guilty of tactlessness.  When a person says he hasn’t evolved, he obviously hasn’t.  That person has every right to say that he was made in God’s image (although he actually would hate to look like an old Jew).  My verdict:  condemned not to have any of the memorable lines in “Inherit the Wind.”

Court is now adjourned.

  1. Rafferty Barnes says:

    I have jury duty next week and I’m so excited about it! Every time I’ve been called before I’ve been away at college or caring for an infant, so I couldn’t do it.

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      “Many are called but few are chosen.” Good luck.

      What are the rules in Baltimore for jury duty? In Cook County, the rule is one day or one trial. If you not selected on that day, you are free until the next summons. But if you are selected for a jury, you must stay until the end of that trial. It could be settled the next day or be Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce. (If the latter, your son will inherit your seat on the jury.)


      • Rafferty Barnes says:

        Its the same here, one day or one trial. In the trial of our recently departed mayor, the jurors got so chummy they got together for Thanksgiving.

        • Eugene Finerman says:


          The Baltimore jury system does seem cordial, but remember that Michael Rankin is in Calfornia. His jury probably convenes in a hot tub. (In California, the statue of Justice is not blindfolded, but she has slices of cucumber over her eyes.)


  2. SwanShadow says:

    I’ll let you know when the trial is over, Eugene, whether your enthusiasm is warranted.

    Here in Sonoma County, California, jurors get $15 per diem, plus mileage one way. As a fellow freelance writer, I’ll take it.

  3. Howard Epstein says:

    I LOST money getting called for jury duty. I left my reading glasses in the break room.. One day’s work: +$17.20. Lost glasses: – $25.00.

    • Eugene Finerman says:


      And I lost my ear muffs when I was last summoned. Do you think that the bailiffs are robbing us, and this is how the Judiciary system finances itself?


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