Friday, April 16, 2010


Boredom isn't the only hazard of jury duty. On a sunny April day, lunching on a bench under some pink-flowering cherry trees near the iconic 60 Centre Street courthouse, known to all for its starring role on my favorite TV show, Law and Order, I am accosted by a neatly dressed, overweight woman who wants to confide her sad story to me. I've already heard enough sad stories while waiting to be questioned in a voir dire for a medical malpractice suit upstairs in Room 345.

To hear her tell it, she suffered a brain tumor at an early age. This prevented her from fulfilling an engagement on the old Ed Sullivan TV show, arranged for her (she says) by Broadway's fabled Jule Styne. And she used to be thin, of course. Had it not been for a twist of fate, she would have rivaled Barbra Streisand. Und so weiter....

I pleaded the necessity of returning to the courtroom, although I actually had 20 minutes left before we were required to be back. I have a friend who's a psychologist. I wish she had been with me to give the poor soul the proper answers. I guess the woman found someone else with whom she could continue her lament, as there were other people sitting around there, some of whom looked as unthreatening as I apparently do.

Regarding the case, about which I am not supposed to talk but I'm not actually on it yet, the prosecuting attorney is the same articulate Irish-American who was the prosecuting attorney on the first case where I served as a juror. This has got to be at least twenty years back. It was your basic old-lady-hit-by-car situation. We didn't get to deliberate, as it was settled out of court. I remember his repeatedly addressing the plaintiff by name: "Mrs. Lugavoy." Somehow that name, being somewhat unusual, has stuck for all these years. Wonder if he himself remembers her?

Postscript: Was let go this afternoon after being questioned. I think it was because (1) one of my late uncles was a physician; (2) I have served on three juries, though none had deliberated to verdict; and (3) I'm Internet savvy, having mentioned that I edited a Web site when I worked for Dance Magazine. Those guys are not stupid; they may have surmised (correctly) that I had probably done some research on the case. Well, now I won't have to devote the next three weeks to the stuffy courtroom, Room 345, at 60 Centre! Free at last! Whee!

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