Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Ornery in the Court

The Colonel achieved a significant milestone in his life this week.  He has finally resided somewhere long enough to be called for civilian jury duty.  The Colonel's wandering ways heretofore made bedouins look downright sedentary, and, as a result, his only experience with jury selection and court procedings had been with courts martial. 

After his first brush with law as practiced in the local county court, the Colonel has a whole new appreciation for the expediency, thoroughness, and discipline of law and justice according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

But, perhaps the greatest surprise the Colonel experienced during jury selection was the lack of respect which many demonstrate for the Court.

Case in point:  The Colonel didn't wear a coat and tie, (and has never been an example of civilian sartorial splendor) but he did wear his best button-down shirt, pressed trousers (men wear trousers, women wear slacks), belt without his name on it, and a pair of shoes not last worn to clean out the chicken herd house.
However, the same care in clothing selection can not be said to have been followed by some who responded to the circuit court jury duty summons.

The Colonel was a bit aggravated in partcular at the one man who he'd seen park his beamer on the square a few spots down from where the Colonel parked his rusty red pick-up, Semper Fillit.  This gentleman (and the Colonel uses that term rather loosely in this case) was obviously a man of means, but was not-so-nattily attired in a grubby pair of jeans and a t-shirt.  His boots were not even brushed off, let alone spit-shined.

No big deal, you say.  Wait, it gets better.

During jury selection, the counsel for the plaintif asked if any one in the jury pool was a lawyer.  Several hands went up.  (Turns out this town has a lot of lawyers, the vast majority of whom are doing something other than practicing law).  One of the prospective jurors who raised a hand, was the beamer driver with the dirty boots.  The man was himself a lawyer, and was in a court of law, dressed like a field hand in town to pick up a load of hog slop.

Still not scandalized?  Wait, it gets much better.

The counsels for the defense and plaintif all seemed to recognize the beamer-drivin', hog-sloppin'-dressed lawyer.  "Please tell the Court what your law practice is," the scoff-court was asked with a wink and a grin.   

"Your honor,..." 

Wait for it...

"...I teach criminal law at the Ole Miss Law School."

That's right, sportsfans, the man who demonstrated the least respect for the Court, by his slovenly appearance, of any one else in the jury pool, is a law professor.   

It was all the Colonel could do to keep from dragging the professor outside and delivering his own professorial lesson on honor and respect. 

Even more disappointing was the fact that the Colonel, he of not-so-keen mind but very keen respect for law and justice, was not selected to sit on the jury.  It was almost more than his ego could take.

When he got out to the parking lot, the Colonel fingered a load of Mississippi gravel road greasy, wet grime off of the front fender of Semper Fillit and flicked it over on the beamer's windshield.  The world, the Colonel's at least, tilted back onto it's proper axis.        
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