Friday, December 10, 2010

Jury Summons

The court system is certainly laid-back. They treat everything with the knowledge that they can totally screw-up your life if they want to. If they send you a Jury Summons, you MUST respond. They are smug in their knowlege that you are out there doing the best you can to jump through their hoops. Never-mind what else you are doing, it's your duty as an American citizen is to drop everything and drive to Eureka, or what ever courtroom that they summons you to, and do your duty, God Bless America.

Woe be unto him that tries to ignore a summons! How do they continually seem to be able to summons ME? I once got a parking-ticket fine from Santa Barbara. Yes, Santa Barbara! I've never been there in my life, and I don't think that my truck has either. The only thing that was right on the whole ticket was the license number. Even more insulting, the ticket was on a Yougo. I wouldn't be caught dead driving a Yougo. But it was my responsibility to prove that THEY made a BIG mistake, thus taking hours out of my precious time. It probably wouldn't have taken that much of my time, but I had to lecture and embellish in the letter that I wrote them. Being borderline obsessive-compulsive... Oh hell, I'm probably full blown obsessive-compulsive. I maybe wrote too long a letter, but everything seemed to go away. I think that it was my detailed explanation that saved me!

Anyway I'm obviously attention-deficit-syndrome also, because I keep following my anger instead of my subject. I got a jury summons last October. I'm not sure when, because the courts are so important that they don't even have to pay postage, or get a date on the letter stamp cancellation. The summons was to appear for November 09, 2010 at 8:15 AM. I guess they get 15 minutes to make coffee. I responsibly put the summons the middle of my desk to get my attention. That's where I put everything that I need to deal with. Sometimes the pile gets ahead of me and I don't get back to the bottom for a while. I need something like a compost bin that I can turn every now and then. Anyway, the summons got buried until it was too late to reply. I was secretly overjoyed, because I could honestly say "I forgot". The universal slackers reply! Hah! Home Feee!

NOPE! By November 17th I got a computer generated scolding for "failing to appear. One of the reasons that I sometimes wait too long to reply is they never allow you to make-up a good excuse. There IS NO excuse, from me, that will make them happy. They leave a place for my Doctor to say why I won't be there, but I just can't tell them myself! I find that very insulting, like I would LIE to them.

Anyway, they foolishly left me a blank on the scolding letter that read: "REASON FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR" Hah! They finally want to hear from me! Good!

So, I wrote them the following letter:

December 9, 2010

Jury Commissioner
Superior Court of California
County of Humboldt
825 Fifth Street, Room G03
Eureka, California. 95501

Dear Kerri L. Keenan
Court Executive Officer.
Re: 100092292

Things to consider:

1- I am 65 years old. I am unable to retire because I’ve led a rather frivolous, but fun filled life. So, I'm still working for a living.

2- I work as a refrigeration contractor. My wife and I also run a retail store in Garberville. My job allows me a lot of free time, but I have to be available to cover emergency freezer and refrigeration calls. Ice-cream has a habit of melting down in my dalliance. Sometimes, when I have to send a customer to other contractors, to get things repaired, they don’t come back.

3- My wife needs to be out of town once a week, to visit and care for her 96 year old mother. I feel that the store runs better in her absence when I’m close-by. That’s a myth in which she allows me to persist.

4- The retail store has employees, for which I’m able to fill-in when they have their various life emergencies. However, they can’t fill-in for me.

5- I am a volunteer first responder, (fire/medical). It gives me great joy to be part of saving a person’s life. It also gives me joy to be part of a fire-department that often saves a home, or a business from a fire. It gives me less joy when we are only able to save the buildings next door, but some days just don’t go as well as others. Often we don’t have a full crew. I love my community, and it’s people, and I feel very responsible for it.

6a- My wife tells me that I don’t hear very well. I know that is not true. She continually mumbles and expects me to figure out what she is saying. I find that to be annoying. I can hear the news on the TV just fine. Sometimes I miss a few things because she screams at me to turn the TV down, then I have to listen for the next broadcast. And… she wonders why I watch the same thing over and over. Sometimes I take a nap while I’m waiting for the next broadcast.

6b-I see very well without my glasses, as long as the light is very bright. Please pardon the large type, my computer screen gets all fuzzy when I type smaller.

7- I am a prostate cancer survivor. I’m am rather proud of my doctors, because, I am “cured”. I am glad that I’m cured, because, I don’t like sympathy! As you might imagine, nobody has been cured of prostate cancer without a few side effects. Mine are: When nature calls, I stop whatever I’m doing and go the restroom. That’s absolutely no problem at all, as long as nothing is between me and the restroom. I’m in control of my life, and it’s functions. As I say, this is not a problem for me at all, I only involve myself in things that allows me the freedom to be where I need to be when I need to be there.

8- I consider myself to be a good citizen, even though I’ve been told that voting will put me on jury-duty, I vote responsibly, and I follow most of the laws that I agree with.

10- I have often served on juries in my hometown of Garberville. That was back when the country was run by it’s citizens, and not the evil corporations, and bought-out politicians. Back then, we could afford to have our own courthouse. I had a gentleman’s agreement with the local court that I would serve any winter’s day. I was too busy in the summer. Quite often the judge, or his assistant, would call me in, to see if I could qualify to be a juror.

11a- I was a juror a few times, I was even the jury foreman a few times. Most often I had a great deal sympathy for the accused, but we found the person guilty of their crimes. It was with some comfort to know that we were right, according to the laws of the land.

11b-One person, whom everybody knew was guilty, but the lawyers couldn’t thus prove, was turned loose. I would love to tell the story, It’s a great story! But, my time is too valuable to write about it, and I know that your time is too valuable to read about it.

12-You asked me to state the: “Reason for failure to appear”. I don’t really have the time to go into it, and again, neither do you. Besides, I think the 5th amendment tells me that I don’t have to tell you. I could be wrong, I’m not a lawyer. Also, I’m not going to consult with one unless I have to.

13a-I could probably get a note that would get me off jury duty from many of my doctors. I probably really don’t hear that well, but I’m functional. I probably really don’t see that well, but I’m functional. My bathroom habits are inconsistent, but, thank-God, they are not incontinent… yet.

13b-I’m getting more sympathetic in my waning years, and it’s likely that I would just turn some poor person loose that has been harassed and harangued by the legal system. I know that it can be unyieldingly cumbersome at times.

14- (Because, I can’t just stop at 13). -You will probably, wisely, throw this letter in the trash. So I am, wisely, going to save a copy of it. That way, I can just forward this to you on your next query as to why I’m not there. I move slower now, so I find ways to save time.

15- I would probably qualify as a member of a jury-of-their-peers if you have an insanity case. Otherwise, I most respectfully request that you remove me from your jury list.

Ernest Leroy Branscomb
429 Maple Lane
Garberville, California


To any friends that may wish to visit me in jail, I like peanutbutter oatmeal cookies.



Ernie Branscomb said...

And whole milk.

Anonymous said...

I thought you were working really hard or on a vacation in some exotic land but no, you have been writing a letter to the the court clerk.
At least in my mind, the question has been answered. whew!


P.S. Very good letter Ernie:-)

Anonymous said...

Their jury-selection process baffles me. I've lived in this county for 20 years. In that time, my wife has received 15 summons. They seem to beckon her every year. In the spring of this year, I received my first summons. I indicated on the form I needed to postpone my time of service until May and, of course, I haven't heard from the county since.

I cannot believe the selection process is completely random. If it is, my wife needs to start playing Lotto pronto.

Rose said...


There's no point in going in anyway - they plea bargain or dismiss everything in the "Morning Dismissal Calendar," after they make you sit there and watch the video and Joy Behar.

Anonymous said...

They can't make anybody watch Joy Behar. That's cruel and unusual punishment!


Anonymous said...

I have never received a jury summons, ever. I have always had a drivers license and have always registered to vote.
I did get drafted once though. Dang government anyway.


spyrock said...

i don't think they would have picked you anyway. you are like me. like that place in reno where everyone lines up but never gets chosen. they tell you to be honest and tell the truth. the only thing is. they can't handle the truth. so they never pick me.

Ben said...

Ernie... I can't find peanutbutter/oatmeal cookies at Chautaqua... Help me out.

Anonymous said...

Ernie, you know everyone in the county or know someone who does.You can get excused because you know the defendent or someone related to the defendent!!!!

charlie two crows said...

Maybe we can get the women dressed in black that stand out side the court house to protest your cause. I'm sure one of them can bake cookies.

kymk said...

Ernie, you should get a literature prize for that letter. I laughed out loud again and again.

Also, not that I'm bitter but I think that since north Humboldt has co-opted the courts, they should furnish the juries.

olmanriver said...

Ernie's excuse #16-- I ride around in antique fire engines in the rain... without wearing a hat.

Ernie Branscomb said...

After reading your comment, maybe I should demand a jury trial, then hold out for a really good plea bargain, but then I would miss out on the cookies in jail. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

If YOU were in jail I would make you homemade cookies! Would you like a recipe?

I agree that if they wanted the courts to be in Eureka, they should provide the juries. It doesn’t make sense for everybody to have to travel all the way to Eureka. I seems to me that it would be simpler for a judge and a couple of lawyers to get on the bus that they provide for Southern Humboldt and come on down. It wouldn’t cost the county a penny more.

Santa’s sleigh blew a head gasket. We were able to get one and put it on. We were out taking a test ride. The reason that the hood was off is that we have to re-torque the head two more times after warm-up and cool-down. We will be hauling Santa around Redway on Saturday the 18th of December. Old flat head motors were famous for blown head gaskets and burned valves. The people that we got the head gasket from said that we should re-torque it every time we change the oil. Hummm… Are we supposed to change the oil???

Glad that you were worried about me. I just talked to somebody that wrote a four page letter requesting a dismissal. He had a lot of the same reasons that I had, but he lacked humor. He called the next week to ask about his request for dismissal. They told him that it was denied. When he asked if anybody read his letter and asked about their reason for dismissal, they told him that they didn’t know, but it was denied.

Anonymous said...

Jeeezzz...Ern. That was a lot of wit!! Cracked me up. Our car once was in SF without us and also got a ticket. I called all of the numbers on the summons to explain this, but there was no human to answer the phones. I did not pay the bill and never attended. I later heard there was a scam and people were sending the fine in, but it wasn't legit.

Logical reason for serving on a jury was explained to me: If you're ever on trial, who do you want on the jury? Uh, I certainly didn't want some of the people I was facing in the selection room, lol... take it as a compliment, lol.

After receiving numerous summons, I wrote my excuse on letterhead asking them to call me during the summer months. This worked until I finally was called and spent 5 days during ice and snow conditions, in Ukiah, on a trial.... that exempted me for a while.

You can get out of a trial by stating hardship as Ernie did, or that you know someone/something related to the trial but you still have to appear to tell them.


Anonymous said...

I am surprised you even responded, I normally take the summons and respectfully discard it at home, so no homeless folk take it to eureka and try to steal my identity for the five bucks a day.

Kristabel said...

Ice-cream has a habit of melting down in my dalliance.

This might be my favorite line you've written so far. I love, love, love your letter.

You know, I've only been summoned once - over twenty years ago. It makes me sad. And a little paranoid.

Robin Shelley said...

Cousin reminds me of the time our car went to Beverly Hills without us. Got a parking ticket from there in my husband's name & I demanded he explain to me what the heck he was doing in Beverly Hills when I thought he was working in Branscomb...hee, hee. A simple phone call cleared up that misunderstanding, though. (The same guy in BH shows up on our credit report once in awhile, too... luckily, he has a good address!)
I've been called for jury duty four times & excused each time: once because the selection was completed before they got to me; once because I had taken evidence photos for the CHP; once because of my association with the hospital & once because the case was settled before court that morning.
(I've been told that one can be excused for announcing that the defendant must be guilty or else s/he wouldn't be on trial but I really don't think I could ever say that with a straight face.)

charlie two crows said...

Ernie; If you go to the big house for christmas. I know you will enjoy turkey under lock and key. To work off the food(or pay for it) they will take you out to jacobs ave to cut weeds in those fashionable Cal-Trans coveralls. And don't worry about bath room breaks. They have an A-1 potty hooked behind the van. Please wear a red santa hat so we can honk,wave and throw cookies to you as we pass by.LOL

Ernie Branscomb said...

I wrote that line in complete innocence. Upon rereading, it occurred to me that maybe I should change it, but the sick humor side of me decided to leave it, even if I was the only one to be tickled by the double-entandre.
To those still confused, “dalliance” can mean “to have an flirtatious episode or an affair”, or it can mean to be, “a trifling waste of time”. In my particular case they would be the same thing

Skeptickle said...

An innocent Irishman?!