by Micaela Shafer Porte
Welcome folks, and come right in,
An inspiring tale of civic duty I’ll spin.
But first, please, pass this way,
Our detector police must have their say.
Detector police scan us to get in,
“Off with their head, this one has a pin!”
“Off with their head, this one has a fork!”
Our X-ray machine is a great piece of work!
“Our large penal family embraces you now,
Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the court show.
We need your good common sense, and naïve civilian duty,
’Cause we’ve seen it before, and we think you’re all guilty.”
Obliged to serve justice and eat perjury pie,
Condemned to serve jury because we didn’t lie.
They walked us and talked us, and asked personal questions,
They knew all about us, but of themselves gave no introductions.
“Our lawyers and judges are like family,
To see one of our own challenged is blasphemy,
The suspects are measured by the weight of their file,
If you find any Whole Truth, add it to the pile.”
We jurors are numbered, the lawyers are nameless,
“We leave it in your lay hands to quickly condemn the shameless.
Please, just administer justice (before the weekend if possible)
Don’t give it a second thought, you won’t be held accountable.”
Numbered jurors in the hall,
Sit on benches against the wall,
Numbered jurors in the box,
Only listen, may not talk.
The criminal grand jury is a disgrace,
The lawyers all lie to your face,
With prosecution slanted,
Indictments are granted,
Numbered jurors just want out of that place.
Injunctions to silence, believable lies,
Covert deliberations, Machiavelli would not be surprised,
Swear in and accuse, admonish, excuse,
Give them some power and they will abuse.
Witnesses are subdued by waiting all day,
The police testifiers don’t care, because they get their pay,
Starting late, two hour lunches, and lengthy breaks,
Delay of game by the lawyers is all courtroom fair play.
Bore us to sleep with talk and long presentations,
Confusing the testimony and evidence mis-representation…
We’ve no clue of the law, but it doesn’t matter,
If you’re colored or poor, go straight to the slammer.
If you ask the wrong questions or have an opinion,
“Contempt of Court” is their final dominion,
As Thomas More in Utopia once penned,
“First ye make criminals, then ye punish them.”
“Soon,” say the Last Jurors, “There won’t be an un-criminal one
To serve on the Jury. The penal industry has won!”
As a fellow juror well said, “They’re all in cahootie!
Our civil duty is their judicial booty.”
And the great jury lounge, designed for the hundreds,
Will echo with the empty ghosts of the summoned.
And the judges and bailiffs, in their silent chambers will call,
“Summon us up some jurors, where did they all go?”
“Obliged to serve justice, the dutiful civilians,
But you can’t try a case now
Because they’re all in the new prison!”
Micaela Shafer Porte is a San Diego beach town native and artist-illustrator
Corey Martin says
Juries are one of the safeguards of democracy. Jurors originally did not have immunity and could be jailed for returning the wrong verdict. Jurors in the U.S. traditionally have this immunity; they can return a verdict the judge doesn’t like, and there are no adverse consequences. Jurors in Americas first century had the explicit power to decide on matters of fact and matters of law.
To gain more power for themselves, and control of the outcomes, corrupt judges and lawyers began to misinform, deceive, and forbid juries from deciding on matters of law. Juries, they said, were only to decide on matters of fact. This directly contradicts the expressed opinion of John Jay, the first Supreme Court Justice.