The Luckiest Juror. Kinda.


katBy Kat Kiefer-Newman

Welcome back fellow adjuncts! I hope your holidays and break were full of fun and joy and happy times. I definitely had my share of those things, and more than a little luck to guide me as I finished my dissertation edits and started prepping for the Spring semester. Luck seems to be the theme of my recent break.

As luck would have it, I was chosen for jury duty. We all love our civic responsibility, don’t we? As a friend recently commented, where else can we find overselves mixed up in a room of total strangers, held captive until we’re either selected for a jury or cut loose? It’s kind of like hoping to be picked for dodge ball, only not usually a lot of fun….wait, I never liked dodge ball much, either…hmmm. My friend also noted that the jury selection process is very like the television show “Survivor,” but without the audition tapes, the demographic profiling, or big cash prizes.

Sunday night I saw I didn’t have to report on Monday. That was good. I had so much class prep to do and was running out of time. My edits on my dissertation manuscript were finally done (only two weeks behind schedule), but I needed to get the letters typed for each of my committee members explaining the editing choices I’d made. Also, I’ve been fighting with the Unemployment Office to get my break paid for. It seems that, despite California laws, the EDD representatives don’t necessarily understand that college adjunct instructors aren’t the same as K-12 instructors—which means that I run the risk of being denied and having to appeal. So far, I’ve been lucky.

Luck is fickle, though, and Monday night when I went back to the website I saw that  Tuesday I had to report in for a criminal case. Bright and early I trudged in with all of the other lucky chosen and then played the “hurry up and wait” game in one room after another. Me and 92 other people who couldn’t figure out how to get out of our civic duty for the day sat and waited. Then they broke us in half, and we went into two new rooms. Every hour or so they gave us a break…from waiting, I guess, where we moved into the closet-like break rooms with vending machines that wouldn’t take my money.

After lunch (another break), they took roll again and then broke us up yet a third time. My head was heavy from all the weird math. My group was chosen for a trial and we were moved into a courtroom. The judge talked at us for about 40 minutes and then he wanted us to tell him if we had personal experiences of child molestation. What?! I knew it was going to get worse from there.

He asked us to stand up if we had personal experiences of child molestation, and if not, we went back out into the previous room and waited some more. Many of my seatmates conferred and “came up with” sad experiences that might allow them to go home. Sure enough, every single person with a story was released. I’ll admit I had a strange moment where I was angry I didn’t have a story. When I realized what I was thinking, and I laughed at myself.

Back inside the courthouse we were put through a battery of questions as the accused mad-dog stared at each potential jurist. I never got chosen to be on that jury. It was lucky for that accused individual, because he might not have fared so well with me. I’m very liberal, so liberal you can’t look left far enough. I have advocated for various kinds people over the years, representing folks who may or may not be guilty, but who are still human and deserve a chance to make their case in such situations. With that said, though, this particular guy just gave me the creeps. 

My day ended at 5:00 and I bounced out to my car happy that I hadn’t been chosen and could get back to work on classes. I felt proud of myself for fulfilling my civic duty for the year…and was even singing a little tune to myself. Then I realized I’d be back here again next year….sigh….’cause I’m just lucky like that.

About the Juggler: Kat Kiefer-Newman currently teaches as an adjunct instructor at two colleges in two different departments. In addition to her busy working (and driving) schedule she attends conferences presenting her research, is in the last stages of finishing her Ph.D., takes care of her elderly father, has recently packed up and sent off to college her second daughter, chats in status updates with her students on Facebook, does not hand out her cell phone number to said students despite their pleadings, and in her spare time she plays in her organic veggie garden. (And though she will never admit it, she also enjoys reading trashy vampire novels.)

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