Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ethical Question

Evalyn and I discussed the fact that I am still serving on a jury, perhaps for as much as another two weeks. She told me that some years back, she got a jury call for a New York City court. Taking the day off from her current theatrical engagement, she went down to the courthouse and was put into a pool of prospective jurors for a criminal trial that was supposed to start that day.

The judge, after briefly outlining the basis of the case, asked a critical question of all the jury-pool members during the voir dire. (This is the pre-trial procedure during which competing attorneys and judge quiz members of the jury pool to determine their fitness to serve as jurors in the trial.)

“Does any one of you have a problem with sitting in judgement on a fellow human being?” the judge asked. It was a good, ethical question, one that the judge asked each prospective juror to consider seriously. Several of the pool members raised their hands – including Evalyn.

One by one, the judge asked each of these people to come forward to the bench, along with the attorneys, so the judge could hear each individual’s answer. Eventually, he got ‘round to Evalyn: “Would Number 18 come forward, please?”

When Evalyn reached the judge’s bench, he leaned over and quietly asked Evalyn her name and occupation. “Evalyn Baron,” she replied, “and I am an actress. Right now, I’m on Broadway, appearing as Madame Thenardier in Les Misérables.”

The judge nodded, then softly repeated his ethical question. “Ms. Baron, do you have a problem with sitting in judgement on another person?”

“I do, Your Honor,” said Evalyn. “I really believe I’m not a superior being, so I don’t think sitting in judgement on someone else is right. I honestly can’t say this is something I could do.”

The judge shook his head. “All right, Ms. Baron. You’re excused from jury duty. Though I wish you’d reconsider and do your civic duty. Trials need juries, after all.”

“I just don’t believe I can judge another person. I’m sorry, Your Honor.”

“Very well. You’re dismissed.”

Evalyn turned to leave. But the judge called her back to the bench. She and the attorneys came back. The judge leaned way over his high desk, and speaking directly to Evalyn, asked, “Ms. Baron, can you get me tickets to Les Miz?”

1 comment:

compostmoi said...

...you may ewant to add that I did get him tix...thanks for immortalizing me in such a well-told story...so much to talk toyou about...also , an idea for something...talkt o you later...xxev