ConstantCommentary® Vol. I, No. 5, **Greatest Hits** 1997-1999

So Sue Me . . .

by Mike Jasper

How to get out of jury duty
(That's what you get for voting)

"State your name and jury number please."

"Ahhh... Mike Jasper. And I'm not sure what my jury number is. I heard 190-something, but I was thinking it was 162. I'm not real sure."

I had just hit a home run, a towering Mark McGwire shot in the upper decks. The judge, the bailiff and the lawyers all looked at me with the same collective thought: This fucker's too stupid to be on the jury. And he might be high.

"Why you vant to get out of jury duty for?" my comedian friend Mary C. asked me the next day. "You no vant to be part of process of great system of justice in great country of America?"

Hmmm. I hadn't thought about it that way before. But it's true: I don't want to be part of the process of the great system of justice in this great country of America.

Why? Because I don't believe in the judicial system. Let me clarify: I believe it exists. I also believe it provides the best justice money can buy. But I don't believe 12 people selected randomly from a segment of the population too stupid to get out of jury duty can be expected to wade through incantations of legal voodoo and render the right decision.

With the exception of the OJ trial, of course. He was clearly innocent.

But I digress. I promised to tell you how to get out of jury duty and I plan to deliver on that promise:

How To Get Out of Jury Duty

1) Dress for success.

While few courts require you to wear a suit, most expressly forbid shorts or cut-offs, tee-shirts, tank tops or other so-called muscle shirts. Jeans are okay, provided they aren't torn or patched. Penny loafers rock.

In other words, it's the exact same dress code required by the Yellow Rose, a local Austin titty bar. Truth is, you can easily meet the court's dress code requirements and still create a repulsive image. All it takes is a little imagination.

Think costume.

On my appointed court date, I decided to go as a 70s rock star. (Note: Whenever possible, draw from your own experience.) I wore black slacks and black cowboy boots, a teal silk shirt unbuttoned one more button than good breeding would normally dictate, and the piece de resistance -- a full-length black trench coat.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find my old shark-tooth necklace, which would have been the perfect accessory. My hair wasn't as long as I would have liked either, but I managed to spike it up pretty convincingly with a blow dryer. The beard played to type and the shades -- although not allowed in the courtroom -- added penache to my entrances and exits.

2) Choose your smell and stick to it.

There is nothing in the dress code about personal hygiene, likely because the courts don't want to consider the ugly possibilities.

I prefer the persistent smell of cigarette smoke, but then I'm a cigarette smoker (Again: Draw from your own experience). Every time I left the building for a cigarette break, I forced myself to smoke two butts: one for me, one for my clothes. Not only did this help me get out of jury duty, it assured me more elbow room in court.

You might prefer another scent, perhaps a natural one. If so, don't take a shower for several days before your appointed court date. Not only will you get out of jury duty, you might be excused early. Others may choose to employ a noxious aftershave or perfume. If so, I suggest you splash it on thick before leaving the house and carry around a bottle in your pocket for convenient booster applications.

This I guarantee: no one will ever question you about your smell. No one would dare take that kind of initiative. As a rule, all workplace decisions are made by committee. Short straw loses.

3) No matter what your occupation, fit the words "newspaper reporter" somewhere in your jury form.

All courts require potential jurors to fill out a form. If you're a full-time parent, a felon or certifiably insane, you'll be able to check the appropriate box and get out of jury duty without having to attend so much as a single day in court. Why? Because if you're a full-time parent, a felon or certifiably insane, you're much more likely to smell (I'm telling you, they just hate that).

Assuming you're not one of the above, find the place on the form where you're asked to name your occupation. In that space, write the following: "I am currently a (Your Occupation), but I plan to become a NEWSPAPER REPORTER in the very near future."

Here's the deal: When you're on a jury, you are not allowed to discuss the case outside the courtroom. But once the jury's released, you can write for daylight. You can be colorful and describe how the defense lawyer spilled coffee on his trousers just minutes before his summation.

Officers of the court know what reporters do. And they hate what reporters do.

I hope anyone trying to get out of jury duty will consider my advice, for I can absolutely guarantee with Joe Namath-like certainty that my little three-point system will work every time. Unless, of course, you live in the state of California, in which case you're fucked, since the Golden State has recently passed laws against smelling, changing jobs, shark-tooth necklaces, smoking, aftershave use, the wearing of trench coats, and the writing of web pages offering advice on how to get out of jury duty.

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STANDARD DISCLAIMER: This column aims to be funny. If you can read anything else into it, you're on your own.