Lots of things number 4 million, even without my involvement.
There are 4 million people living in Puerto Rico; I’m not among them. Thuggish President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte says there are 4 million drug addicts in his country; and I don’t have the monkey on my back in Manila.
According to a useless news report last week, there are 4 million songs on Spotify that have never been played – but I’m doing my best to knock ‘em off one by one (“Alexa, play Kevin Federline’s ‘Playing With Fire’ in its entirety!”)
But here’s the statistic most important this week: There are 4 million people who will be called for jury duty this year. And, with that, you can count me in.
I was prospective juror No. 116 last week in county Superior Court and, what clearly isn’t self-evident to the honorable local judiciary, I would make an awesome juror. Quickly studying up on a subject and then pronouncing a public judgment upon it as if I’m some kind of reliable authority on the matter is an editorial columnist’s bread and butter. It’s what I do.
I almost certainly wouldn’t be the worst juror of all time. That honor may go to the four members of a British jury which, when deliberating during a double homicide case in 1994, consulted a Ouija board in the hopes the murder victims may be consulted beyond the grave to assist in reaching a verdict (“guilty,” insisted the phantasms; a mistrial was soon declared). Or perhaps it was the five members of an Australian jury who, when tasked with deciding the fate of two men facing life, were secretly staging a Sudoku tournament during the proceedings and tallying their results during lunchtime.
Whether the case I was called for was Ouija- or Sudoku-worthy is debatable; it was definitely more intriguing than the Daily Jumble. The judge informed us on Day 1 of jury selection that the case was especially serious and could keep the 12 chosen jurors and their alternates in court for up to six weeks. Without giving too much away, the situation revolves around an alleged attempted murder, involving possibly a gun, strangulation, gardening tools and insanity. Simply based on that, this would have been the perfect fit for yours truly. I personally know people who own guns; I personally know people who own gardening tools. I personally think that most people are certifiably insane. Looking for the ideal juror for this case? Look no further, your honor.
Unfortunately, as it happens, I also personally know one of the “expert” witnesses listed for the defense – someone who used to write a sex and drugs column at my previous newspaper. When I let that slip during pre-trial questioning, the words, “Juror Walsh, you are excused,” reverberated through the halls of justice louder than all the “order in the courts!” from every “Perry Mason” episode combined.
I can’t say I was disappointed to not have to re-arrange my life for six weeks in order to sit on the jury. And I’d hasten to guess most of the other 200-plus prospective jurors felt the same. At least that much was clear based on some of the shameless responses the judge was hearing when querying the candidates for any preconceived biases. Several prospective jurors said they wouldn’t trust anything the police said; others said they would discredit any testimony from a paid expert witness. One man said he’d automatically vote guilty if there was a gun at the scene; another said he’d vote guilty if insanity was part of the defense.