2012 Season Edition No. 21 August 7, 2012
I loved Mitch’s Curbside Chronicles; you seem to be a very detailed, organized person, seeing the ticket stub picture from past concerts, baseball scorecards and that wonderful, wonderful, memory. Admirable qualities to be sure, unfortunately, ones I don’t share with you. As I sit here and punch out this edition of the Bellyflop two things are certain, I don’t know where my driver’s license is and I’m not sure of the where-abouts of my left shoe. Your attention to detail has served you well.
It’s been a long hot summer, but just when it seems to be suffocating, along come a couple of Bullpens that give us that shot in the arm that we all need. Jon, it was a joy to read your newsletter and it is proof of the circle of life. I’m sure there were times that you thought life shouldn’t be this hard but happiness always finds its way home. Dave did an excellent job of recapping the best of our youth while making us wonder what memories our children will have to reflect on, just as our parents pondered our future and their parents before them, theirs. Our children will be fine; they have damn good parents if you ask me. If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go with family.
There are some teams enjoying a good run and some teams….not so much. There are some players having a good season and some players……not so much, no worries, that’s baseball. As I look at the standings it seems to be the Bums championship to lose, with the Monarchs, Cubs, Chiefs and Redbirds with a punchers chance. Jeff, Jim, I hope Trumbo and Trout have helped, I’m pulling for you guys and Mouse to make a run, it’s time to lose another member of the dead money club.
As for the Trout for Upton trade, you don’t have a horse in this race….. You most certainly did, didn’t you? If you were bullish on Trout, then you must have been absolutely up on your tip toes about Cody Ross. Well, I’ve got great news, next year you will be able to draft Cody Ross any……time……you…..want.
Since baseball isn’t taking up much of my time this summer I’ve had a chance to catch up on my reading. Two books stand out as excellent reads, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, which takes place in 1933 in Berlin and describes Hitler’s rise to power through the eyes of America’s Ambassador to Germany at the time, William E. Dodd. West with the Night by Beryl Markham is a fascinating account of her unusual life as one of East Africa’s first female bush pilots in the early 30’s and the first woman to fly from Europe to North America, east to west. Fascinating stuff, if you’re into such things.
I’ve been eligible for jury duty for almost 40 years and I’ve never been called. I’m actually one of those people who have looked forward to that experience. The summons finally came for the two week period of July 2nd to July 13th.
I reported for duty along with 69 other perspective jurors and awaited the process. We were divided into 2 separate groups of 35; my group would serve as the jurors for Judge Paul Merritt. After we were led into his courtroom he described the trial that “some” of us would be hearing. It was a good one, a difficult one, I would imagine. It was a sexual assault case involving two 21 year olds, alcohol, implied or not implied consent and what appeared to be a large section of grey area. Since this is not the year of the Tribe it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when I wasn’t included in the initial 27 picked from the starting 35. What did surprise me was the cross section of humanity that 35 random citizens of Lincoln, Nebraska could produce. Because of the nature of the case, it became apparent that the 8 of us that were not selected still needed to pay somewhat attention in case we were called upon.
Out of the 27 perspective jurors, 9 had previous dealings with sexual assaults in varying degrees and didn’t feel the need to share those experiences with everyone in the court room, so each one of them was given their due in private while the rest of us were ushered out to allow them to tell their stories to the judge and attorneys. I wonder if thirty three percent is an accurate figure country wide, as it seemed high to me, even though if I was called upon I would have added to that figure (long story).
When they started the process of interviewing the perspective jurors, Judge Merritt said it looked to be a fairly lengthy trial and was everyone OK with that? A college age gentleman dressed in athletic shorts and a tank top stated that he was “OK” to be a part of the trial “that day” but that he would be on vacation starting the next day for the rest of the week. That didn’t set very well with Judge Merritt who proceeded to dress him down further than he already was, but the kid didn’t back down and said that his plans were “firm”. Needless to say, it went downhill from there for the poor lad who eventually gave in and said that he would put his plans on hold, although it became crystal clear to everyone that his chances, much to his delight, were fading fast of becoming a juror in this trial. If he was feeling cocky about finding a clever way out of the trial he shouldn’t have, because the guy sitting in front of him put on a clinic on how to get out of jury duty.
The prosecutor asked everyone if they knew him or his assistant and if they did would they please raise their hand. After no hands appeared he then said he would name off the other attorneys in his office and please let him know if someone knew any of them (most of names I don’t remember, but one stood out).
“Martinez, Nelson, Schmidt, Regan.”
Up shot the hand of the guy in the front row.
“I know him; he was the President of the United States!” With all the clarity and certainty and confidence of someone who was absolutely certain he had…………..the correct answer.
“Uh, well, yes he was, but he’s dead and he wasn’t a member of our office.”
The defendant’s back stiffened a little on that one. College, smallege, now that’s how you get out of jury duty.
Next up, Lawanda. During the preliminary waiting period in the public lounge an elderly lady who looked remarkably like a tired Lawanda Page, who played Aunt Esther on Sanford and Son, complete with the wig, came in with a crony who was a little younger but a little more haggard……who couldn’t stop laughing, not for a minute could she stop, nor did she. 70 people were crammed into a little employee break room waiting for instructions, as quiet as church mice, but laugh she did, while Lawanda stared straight ahead. It was kind of surreal, but it made the time go a little faster. During the questions to the perspective jurors the prosecutor asked Lawanda if the fact that there was premarital sex involved would alter her ability to have an unbiased opinion. After a volley of back and forth questions and strange answers from Lawanda she finally fessed up and said she didn’t know what premarital sex meant. Judge Merritt did a capital job of explaining the birds and bees to Lawanda, but she fell deeper and deeper into a confusing abyss and after having a conference with the attorneys he summoned her laughing buddy, who was serving as her ride, to come and get her and just that quick she was gone and the guy sitting next to me was welcomed aboard. To make a long story longer, three more women talked their way out of the jury and they ended up interviewing 31 of the 35 perspective jurors.
At the end of the day, a 6-1/2 hour day, I said exactly one word, “present” when my name was called ten minutes after arriving. I would have liked to see how the trial played out. It looked to be a hard drawn out trial and I’m not sure I wanted to be charged with determining the fate of that young man who was clearly scared of the predicament that he found himself in, nor would I have wanted to make the wrong decision concerning the young lady who must have been just as scared, two people who I’m sure would love to have the opportunity to rewind time.
So, this was just a little slice of Lincoln, Nebraska on any given Monday. And you will be judged by a jury of your peers.
Maybe you guys can settle a bet for me? Vulcan or Romulan?
Mitch, keep the switch on the flanks, the finish line is in sight.