Call of Duty

A reader’s perspective on lawyers in lesbian fiction. 

Last week I was feeling pretty special. I was given a day off of work to attend a summons for federal jury duty. There always seems to be a somewhat negative connotation about jury duty but I was pretty excited. I mean this is me being able to actually be part of the governmental process. In a way. Federal jury duty is different than what you see in Law and Order. It’s actually seemed to be a rarity and not something that comes around very often the way local jury duty summons may. This seemed to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was happening to me! I’ve actually never been summoned for jury duty before so I didn’t have any experience to compare it to, but there seemed to be over 200 individuals seated in an auditorium all with the same summons as me. The obligation of the federal jury duty is a one day a week service that spans for either six months or a full year. They were pretty specific about understanding this time commitment and repeated it several times during the separation process of those ready to serve and those who were looking to be excused from service.

Honestly I was totally shocked at how many people went through the process of speaking directly with a judge to discuss being excused. There were a lot! Again, I know there is this whole negative social thought about serving jury duty and how much of an inconvenience it is, but for all the discourse in our society right now, why would anyone want to give up the opportunity to provide a fair mindset in the pursuit of justice? It’s not in everyone’s make-up to enlist in the police academy and make social change that way, but this- jury duty- is that opportunity! Why would anyone want to leave? I know everyone has their own lives and it really could be a financial hardship or they may have a criminal record and no longer have the right to serve, or maybe they have some other issue, but for me, I was ready to change my work schedule so that I could undertake this opportunity to serve my community and hopefully, make it better.

So I set out last Friday morning for this adventure into making a difference and I brought along a book to read knowing that the process could be a drawn out one with many intervals of waiting. What better story to start while sitting in this environment than Carsen Taite’s Courtship by [Taite, Carsen] Courtship. It was somewhat of a fluke that I snagged that one off my to be read stack but I am so glad that I did! It seemed to fit my place in time perfectly as it was capturing the end of an election year that promised to establish a new mindset in the Supreme Court with new appointments. Go one way and the entire LGBTQ community is doomed to second class status forever or go the other way and a progressive individual is elected and the possibility for positive change is set in motion. Addison Riley was an impressive character and her interpretation on cases and standing rulings such as Roe v Wade were awesome! Thank you Carsen Taite for those insights!

LesFic has some really excellent stories that center around the courtroom. Take Jae’s Portland Police Bureau series that introduces us to Kade Matheson in  Conflict of Interest with one of the best trial scenes I’ve ever read. The back and forth, the questions, the reactions all seemed perfect for the trial. I seriously could have been a spectator in the gallery or even a juror on that trial it was so well done. You’d almost think that reading a fictional trial wouldn’t be as exciting as a police chase through the streets or one of the main characters getting shot while serving a warrant, but it really was awesome! And if you want more of Kade she is back in the second story Next of Kin.

An earlier LesFic story that I enjoyed for the lawyering interplay interspersed with the romantic story was  To The Edge by Cameron Abbott. The story of an on-line music source being sued created some interesting behind the courtroom scenes. Yes, it’s a job, but how an idea is researched and shaped to establish a precedent for future cases, thoughts and ideas is pretty cool. I’m not sure if a case like this would ever be argued in front of a jury, but how cool would that be to be presented two sides of a story and to determine which story fell more inside the lines of the law?

Another one of my favorites is Objection by Lynn Galli which can be found in her published work calledFinally (Virginia Clan Book 4) by [Galli, Lynn] Finally. This story brings a Judge into play. A newly appointed Judge at that and one who is being approached with bribes. Just that thought, that the individual who oversees the outcome of so many lives, could be bought is a scary one. I mean the case being heard may be a minor one in the overall scheme of things, but for that defendant it is the most important case in the world! It has the ability to change her or his life forever. How much would it suck to have the outcome be set before any arguments are made?

Have you ever wanted to step into a prep room with a LesFic lawyer or into the courtroom to hear a trial or meet the players in a LesFic story? One of the things I love about law based stories in LesFic is how the story lines seem to reflect our society. What is your favorite and what story line was being challenged? Oh, and if the summons ever comes to serve on a Jury, I sure would love it if you took the opportunity to make a difference in our society!

 

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5 thoughts on “Call of Duty

  1. I love your enthusiasm as I too was happy to serve on a jury when I was chosen to do a two week period, way back when and never since. Unfortunately, as with many, many others, I had to defer the first time as it would have been a hardship for my small business employer to let me go at exactly the time they initially wanted me. Together, we presented documentation for an alternate service period to the jury commission a couple of months later and they accepted.

    Since you’d never served before, your disbelief at how many people wanted to “give up an opportunity’ is understandable. I’m here to tell you, It’s not about that. It’s about the fact that most people who are chosen to serve are taken from voter rolls (and in some states DMV/BMV rolls). These are primarily working people who own or work in small businesses, teachers, and other working people with jobs that might give them 3 days to 2 weeks off for jury duty paid, if they can afford to lose these people at all. Replacing people for a day a week for 6 months or more is a hardship for many businesses and other public ventures where there’s a cost for a sub if one is even available and a cost to lost business and lost productivity. Couple that with the fact that many people simply can’t afford it personally to serve for 26 or 52 days a year – several days beyond what their employer may reimburse for, if they do it at all – and you have a recipe for a lot of deferments.

    The federal system needs revamped. So many states have gone to one day/one trial scenarios to combat such high potential juror deferment from former systems that kept a pool in place for 1-2 weeks. After my deferment, during my 2 weeks of service, I actually sat on 3 cases in two weeks and spent only 1 full day in the jury room not serving as a juror. It was interesting for sure but my employer had to pay me for the time (because jury duty paid a whopping $12 a day and we paid our own parking and lunch) and my employer also paid for a temp to do part of my job. I went in on weekends to catch up on all the stuff the temp couldn’t do. The system gained a juror but at a cost double to my employer, extra work for me and lots of lost productivity.

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    1. Anne I totally get that and realize I did come off a bit elite in regards to those asking to be excused. The interviews were private and we weren’t privy to hear what people were saying so they may have had a very legitimate excuse. I admire you for coming back and sitting on 3 cases! That sounds so amazing! Thanks for reading!

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  2. You posed an interesting question to Annette that made me think back on my time serving again. One case was 4 days wasted of the time of multiple people. It was based on a woman trying to get workman’s comp because she had a heart attack at work during the normal course of her not very stressful job one day. She had every known pre-cursor to heart disease out there, well documented in her medical history, and a parade of witnesses only confirmed that. She lost.

    The second case was a rape/sexual battery case with a ‘you just can’t make this stuff up’ kind of feel. I’ve thought about that case several times over the last week or so given our current ‘news’ environment surrounding a certain former Stanford swimmer and a certain Presidential candidate. I had a long talk with my son back then about ‘consent’ and a young woman being too impaired to be held accountable for giving consent after that case ended in acquittal on the rape count and conviction on the sexual battery count. Male and female jurors were pretty much split evenly and they split along those lines when it came to the rape count. 5 men and 1 woman wouldn’t convict. 1 man and 5 women wanted conviction on both counts. He ended up getting a year in jail for the battery and served 6 months or so. It would be too hard to write that stuff..

    The third case, a woman tripped over a broken off sign post, severely damaged her ankle and sued the property management company of the plaza parking lot she was walking through in the dark after leaving a restaurant. She ended up being awarded her medical bills and monetary damages slightly less than what she’d been offered in settlement nearly a year before that.

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