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February 08, 2019


Oh, how I feel for you, Janie!

As a fellow night owl (or, as I suspect, an alien who evolved on a planet with 27-hour days) I too was most worried, when summoned for jury duty, about how I would manage to sync my sleep-wake cycle to the blue-collar schedule of MA courts. (You'd think judges and lawyers might keep bankers' hours, but no.) I live just outside Boston, about half an hour south of the court in Lowell; the only bright side was that I'd be traveling opposite the rush hour commute.

Here in MA, we have the "one day or one trial" system, so there was a high likelihood that I'd only have to do the wake-up-with-the-chickens bit once. But it was a close thing, as you can learn below.

For some reason, I had not been called to jury duty for almost 20 years, so I found the experience novel and interesting enough to document in a (long) email to my sister, who had done her jury duty a couple of months before. I append it below, at the risk of boring you and the rest of ObWi with a wall of text.

Good luck with your own jury service,


I got to the courthouse about 7:45 on Thursday. Good thing I double-checked the invitation on Wednesday night: I had in my head the courthouse on Gorham Street, near the final exit ramp of the Lowell Connector, which is Lowell Superior Court; I was actually summoned to Lowell District Court on Hurd Street, across the way from what was once the Lowell Sheraton of PAA fame and is now the UMass Conference Center.

First thing inside the door, of course, was the “security” checkpoint, featuring a scanner portal so sensitive that it went off in response to the spiral wire binding of the little memo pad in my back pocket, after I had taken off even my belt in addition to dumping my keys, pens, cellphone and loose change into the little basket. While I was doing my reverse-striptease on the other side, a voluble, genial, and enormously fat court bailiff came to escort us to the holding room.

It was hot, of course, and the air conditioner was not working, but according to the bailiff’s repeated assurances the new courthouse is under construction and should be open in 2-3 years – so that was some comfort. He explained that there were 3 potential trials on the day’s docket, but any or all of them might yet be settled out of court. There were about 25 of us potential jurors; in District Court juries are composed of 6 or 7 people.

We were shown the juries-are-great-and-Jurors-are-wonderful video that you probably saw as well. I learned one interesting thing from it: women only became eligible for jury service in 1950, in this our Commonwealth. Fun fact I did not know! A very nice lady judge dropped in to welcome and thank us, as promised. Then we waited for a couple of hours. I read my back issues of the New Yorker. For excitement, a bumblebee wandered in through the open window and the bailiff coaxed it out again.

Around 10 o’clock, we were led through a series of corridors and staircases, reminiscent of Hogwarts, to a courtroom. The nice judge who had welcomed us was presiding over a criminal trial – a 70ish man with white hair and an Irish surname was charged with DUI in Tewksbury. The judge’s clerk swore us all in en masse, with the inevitable “so help me god” codicil. We were asked the usual screening questions – do you know any of the parties? have you heard of the case? Then they started calling us individually, in numerical order, to the sidebar with the judge and the lawyers for voir dire. The courtroom was equipped with a low-tech cone-of-silence: speakers creating white noise to drown out sidebar conversations.

For this particular case, the judge had particular questions to ask. Including, “do you have a moral or religious objection to alcohol?” Well. “None, your honor,” I replied, “but since you brought up religion, I have to tell you that I mildly object to the ‘so help me god’ bit in a group oath situation.” One of the lawyers mumbled something like “oh, the 1st Amendment” in a tone that suggested he had never made the connection before. The judge, to her credit, made contrite noises and looked suitably apologetic. I was invited to take the last open seat on the jury. A couple of minutes later, the judge and the lawyers having conferred some more under the cone of silence, I was invited to return back to the prospective-juror seats. Don’t know which of the lawyers rejected me; don’t know if it was a peremptory challenge; don’t know whether it was on account of my being uppity, or old, or an engineer, or what. But 2 or 3 previous, and at least 1 subsequent, jurors were likewise rejected.

When they filled out the jury, the clerk swore them in again as a group, WITHOUT the god-bothering language, I was pleased to note.

The bailiff, like a jovial assistant to David Copperfield, immediately led the rest of us back through the off-stage maze and presto: we reappeared, diminished in number but undaunted in spirit, inside the holding room. We might get to go home soon, the bailiff said, but he had to check whether a second judge might be needing a jury. Another hour or so of waiting and sweating.

Then we were herded to a second courtroom. Another criminal trial – a young man with a Hispanic surname charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. Similar procedure, same damned group oath, same general screening questions. Then the individual sidebars, although this clerk kept forgetting to turn on the cone of silence. They picked up where they had left off in the numerical sequence, so there were about 15 people available before the rotation would come back to me again. They filled the jury without me, and I thought I was out – but every time you think that, they pull you back in. I asked the bailiff whether I could stay and watch part of the trial as a spectator (I would have been the only one) but he said we might still be needed for a civil trial.

Sure enough, half an hour later the remaining 9-10 of us are rousted from our home-away-from-home bullpen and trooped to a tiny little courtroom presided over by the first male judge we had encountered. He had curly gray hair, a stentorian voice, and an air that he no doubt considers efficient and matter-of-fact but which had a touch of the bully in it. The trial was a personal-injury case arising from a minor accident in June of 2016(!) in which a young(?) woman named Keri something, driving a Nissan mini-SUV, rear-ended a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by a 50-ish licensed massage therapist named Mr. something Posima. I was neither glad nor sorry when, after it came down to 3 remaining prospects, I was the one picked to take the last seat on the 6-person jury without any individual voir dire. As it was almost 1:00, the judge invited the lawyers to submit their exhibits (a folder of medical records, a folder of medical bills, and a few poster-size photographs without circles and arrows or a paragraph on the back of each one) to be marked as evidence, and suggested we all come back at 2:00 for opening arguments.

Our jolly bailiff offered us suggestions for where to grab a bite of lunch in the neighborhood, heavily promoting the UTEC café in the basement of the former church building across the street. You’d almost have thought he was working on commission. Despite my suspicion that it might be some religious cult, UTEC turned out to stand for United Teen Equity Coalition and be a cheery sandwich-and-salad place, reminiscent of every suburban industrial-park lunch eatery I’ve known over the years. The staff included several tattooed young people who all seemed clean, efficient, and polite. The girl at the register recommended their ginger lemonade to go with my BLT wrap; I had to compliment her on it afterwards, it was so delicious. I shared a table with a guy I recognized from the jury pool, who had been enlisted in one of the criminal trials. We exchanged a few sentences – the first and only social chit-chat I had with any of my fellow jurors all day. Good grief, how unsociable people are these days! After lunch, having gone through the strip-tease routine again, we crowded into the little courtroom and the opening statements began.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, a man about my age named Donohue(?) that may once have been a City Councillor, laid out the facts of the case. We had already been told by the judge that Ms. Keri whatever, defendant, was (still is, I suppose) deceased, but we were not to take that into account That explained why the defense lawyer was alone at his table. We never learned how old his client was. Anyway, according to Mr. Donohue:

The accident happened at the intersection where the Rourke Bridge ends at Middlesex Street, right at the Market Basket where Dad used to work, at around 10:30 on a sunny morning. Plaintiff was driving to a business meeting (nature unspecified) with a colleague (never named and not present) in the passenger seat. They waited behind 1-2 cars at the red light. When the light changed, the traffic started to move, but almost immediately stopped again. Plaintiff, his hands still on the wheel, felt a tremendous bang and was thrown forward against his seat belt. He pulled into the Market Basket lot, followed by the defendant. They got out of their cars, defendant apologizing (but more on this later) and saying that her flip-flop had got stuck under the gas pedal. They exchanged info, and took cellphone pictures of the front of her car and the back of his. In the blown-up photos it was hard to see the damage to either car. Neither car’s airbags deployed. Nobody called the police or medics. If insurance claims were filed we heard nothing about it. Plaintiff and his passenger drove on to their meeting.

After the meeting, plaintiff began to feel pain in his right shoulder (presumably from the shoulder belt), right wrist (steering wheel), and right heel (huh?) and went to the ER at Saints Memorial. He was examined, assessed for range of motion, etc., and prescribed some high-dose ibuprofen, a week’s rest from his strenuous occupation, and a follow-up visit with his PCP, who ultimately referred him to an orthopedist. X-rays revealed no bone breaks, but possible soft-tissue damage. The orthopedist prescribed him a “heel cup”, a wrist brace and a week’s rest; later, also a cortisone injection in the right shoulder. Plaintiff, being self-employed, lost a certain amount of income due to all this, and still suffers occasionally recurring shoulder pain. For his medical bills, loss of income, and pain-and-suffering, plaintiff requested money damages from defendant.

Then the defendant’s lawyer got up. Picture a larger version of Alexi, with a somewhat blank look and wearing the most ill-fitting suit I have ever seen in court or out of it. His opening statement was fairly short, and focused on the blown-up photographs which (being enlarged from cellphone pics) were a bit less focused than he was. But they were clear enough, he argued, to show that the barely-visible damage to the cars could not possibly account for plaintiff’s injuries.

Plaintiff took the stand. Well-dressed and well-spoken, he testified to the facts as laid out by his lawyer. He estimated his weekly income before the accident at $270 and said it was still below that now, due to inability to perform deep-tissue massage on some days. Defendant’s lawyer cross-examined very briefly. The main point he brought out was that plaintiff, in previous deposition, had mentioned nothing about defendant apologizing or admitting fault at the scene, when she said her flip-flop had got caught under the gas pedal.

Closing arguments. Defendant’s lawyer harped on the photographs, arguing they showed the cars “touched” too lightly to have caused plaintiff’s injuries, and that anyway accidents happen that are nobody’s fault. Plaintiff’s lawyer went to town on the “touched” business, demonstrating the difference between a touch (by caressing the table) and a crash (pounding on it). He used a homely metaphor: when your mom would buy a dozen eggs, he said, she would check if any of them were cracked even if the carton looked undamaged; you probably do too, he added, and sometimes find a cracked egg, don’t you? Plaintiff did not come before you wearing a brace or feigning agony, but you have in evidence his medical bills and his testimony about lost income and the pain he suffered and occasionally still suffers. He doesn’t ask you to award him excessive damages, he said, and finally got down to the amount at issue: $7500.

The judge then instructed us on the law. He led us through the verdict form, each of us being supplied with a copy. It listed 3 questions we had to answer: 1) was defendant negligent; 2) if yes, did her negligence cause defendant financial or other damage; 3) if yes, how much money should plaintiff be awarded? The judge then explained (finally!) that we did not have to be unanimous: only 5 of the 6 of us had to agree on each question, and it did not have to be the same 5 each time. After the bailiff collected the forms (only one copy is allowed in the jury room) the judge appointed the one woman on the jury to be foreman, and sent us off to deliberate. It was 4:00 by now.

Our friendly bailiff led us to the court’s library, since both regular deliberation rooms were in use. (So, no bathrooms; do your business first.) He left us the evidence and a phone number to call if we needed him. If we could not reach verdict by 4:30 we would have to come back in the morning.

Aside from the 30-something woman and my 60-ish self, the other 4 were guys from 21 to 40-something. I’m guessing; we did not even exchange names, but got right down to deliberation. I had assumed, and was on the verge of saying so, that of course we all agreed on Question 1: of course defendant was negligent. Wrong, as usual. Only the youngest juror, inexplicably dressed in suit and tie, even wavered. We all seemed to be aware that whosoever rear-ends a stopped vehicle is presumed “responsible” – ask any insurance company. But, the majority argued, “responsible” in an insurance claim is different from “negligent” in a lawsuit. (Never mind that both are civil matters, where preponderance-of-evidence and not guilt-beyond-doubt is the rule.) It wasn’t defendant’s “negligence” that caused her flip-flop to get caught under the gas pedal, which presumably prevented her from reaching the brake pedal in time. The forelady asked whether any of us knew whether MA is one of the states where it’s illegal to drive wearing flip-flops; none of us knew, so nothing came of it.

I told them that defendant was negligent, as far as I was concerned, but that I would not get into a long argument with them about it, because I probably would end up having all sorts of doubts about plaintiff’s case on the 2nd question – how do you get thrown forward by a rear-end collision? how does the driver’s seatbelt interact with his right shoulder? So we took a vote, the waverer voted not-negligent, and we were done just as the bailiff poked his head in to say that time was running out. The foreperson checked the No box on Question 1, wrote 5 in the blank for number of jurors agreeing, and signed the document. It amused me that the signature line was on page 2, which was printed on a separate sheet of paper stapled to the first; they must not know how to print on both sides of the paper in Lowell District Court. The bailiff gathered up the folders and the posters (to be filed for 7 years) and, after getting word that the parties were back in the courtroom, led us there through now-deserted corridors.

The parties stood, the judge looked at the verdict form, the clerk read it out, we affirmed that 5 of us agreed on the verdict (without individual polling), and the judge dismissed us with his thanks. The bailiff hustled us out. I didn’t even have time to see any reaction from the lawyers or the plaintiff.

And thus ended the somewhat pathetic case of Mr. something Posima versus the late Ms. Keri whatever, and their evidently low-rent lawyers. Was justice served? Maybe. But juries are more or less infallible in the eyes of the law, so officially yes.

We jurors all went our separate ways without any chit-chat. Well, I headed for the Dunkin Donuts around the corner on Central Street for a desperately needed coffee slushie and the rest of them headed the other way straight toward the parking garage. So maybe they did exchange a few words about their lucky escape right at the bell.

Postscript: when I got home – back in the connected world – I went on-line to fill out the “Juror Survey” at the Jury Commissioner’s website. In the “Comments” box I mentioned my distaste for ‘so help me God’, adding “Mildly worded letter to follow”. Which I wrote that night and mailed on Friday morning to Pamela J. Wood, Massachusetts Jury Commissioner, with neither a demand nor an expectation that it will make any difference whatever.

TP, that's wonderful. Why don't you write a post for this blog now and then?

I just laughed and laughed at some points, like the bumblebee's arrival and the lawyer mumbling "1st amendment."

My juror's handbook says this: "After voir dire, the selected people, who will make up the jury panel, are given the Juror's Solemn Oath. Jurors who do not wish to swear the oath may request to affirm their support of it."

Arguably hair-splitting, but I'm grateful for at least a nod in the direction of the godless.

Like Janie, I am what I like to call "a real morning person." That is, left to myself, I will sleep until 10 or so, and then stay up (reading) until 2 or 3 AM -- i.e. the start of the morning.

Unfortunately, I haven't been left to myself since I got morning, rather than afternoon, kindergarten. School started at 8 . . . but, for those of us way out in the country, the bus dropped us at school about 7:15 so it could make a second run for the kids who lived closer. (Totally unsupervised while waiting for everybody else to arrive, of course. It was a less paranoid time.) And in college, when most people avoid "8 o'clocks" like the plague, engineers don't get the option.

Finally, after half a century of enforced early rising, I now finally get to live on my natural schedule. It's hard to overstate how nice it is.

Second Janie's suggestion.

Just out the door, and no time to properly read what looks like a great thread so will come back to it later. But just to say, my body clock is the same as JanieM's and Tony P's, so I am full of fellow-feeling. I wonder whether that's something lots of us at ObWi have in common, along with (as revealed in a past thread) the fact that none of us fulfilled our (supposed) potential?!

wj -- I like the co-opting of the term "morning person." I've often had occasion to say, when someone invites me to something early in the morning, that it would be easier for me to stay up for it than to get up for it.

TP -- When I was in grad school I knew two guys who were trying to live on a not-24-hour cycle. I don't know how it turned out, but I think the notion of, say, a 27-hour cycle would account well for my tendency to stay up later and later if I don't make a strong effort to rein myself in.

In general -- Since I feel like whining, I'll add that not only does no one care about the plight of night people in a morning people's world, there are a lot of folks who find it necessary to actively cast aspersions on night people, as if we have some sort of character flaw. It's the "different is worse" theory of life.

I had brunch with some friends yesterday and asked them if anyone had ever done jury duty. One of them had gone to the courthouse every day for a week (or maybe two) and never been put on a jury. She said she thought the lawyers didn't like having people with a lot of degrees. ;-)

Between that and Tony P's story, I'm reminding myself to bring a good book along with the tea.

My natural thing is like Janie's. Way back when I worked as a contractor and could keep my own hours, my typical work-day was basically 11AM until about 8PM. Then, stay up until about 3AM.

Late nights, after the world goes to bed, is a cool time of day. Focus, no interruptions, no distractions, let your mind go where it wants to go. A great time to practice a musical instrument, learn a language, read something meaty.

I just started a new job that's in kind of an odd corner of Cambridge (by Alewife MBTA, for you Boston locals). From where I live, there is no really direct route there, so if I don't want to spend 3 hours a day going to and from I have to leave early enough to beat the rush hours.

"Early enough" for the morning rush hour in the Boston area means before 6:00 AM, preferably more like 5:30. For the PM rush, it means hitting the road by 4:00 at the latest. Actually, 4:00 is too late, 3:00 or 3:30 is better.

I could also go in late, after the rush hour, but then I'd have no place to park - the lot is full by about 9:30. I could also take public transportation, but given the geography it would be a commuter train, then two different subway lines, all of which works out to almost 2 hours each way.

So I'm trying to turn myself into a morning person. It's actually not that hard to get up at 5:00 if I go to bed by 9:00, but it's just a really bizarre change of lifestyle. I feel like I'm living in a different universe. Getting out of bed before the sun is up is just bizarre, my brain is simply not engaged, and my body responds like something is profoundly wrong.

I have to do everything the night before - take a shower, lay out my clothes, set up breakfast, organize my stuff for work - so that I can navigate the morning without having to think. Because thinking is just not on offer. I put my work stuff in front of the door so I can't forget it on the way out.

My wife is the opposite. She hits the ground running at 5:00 AM, but by 9:00 PM she is a zombie.

We'll see how the work thing plays out. Most likely when I know my way around enough to work more independently I'll negotiate some kind of partial work from home thing.

I will say that commuting at 5:30 AM is pretty cool, there is almost nobody on the road. And it's nice to see the colors of the sky when the sun comes up. I just wish I wasn't in such a stupor when it happens.

Jury duty - I did once get tossed off of a jury during voire dire. The defendant was on trial for dealing coke. I asked the judge if he would be subject to mandatory sentencing if found guilty.

"Not your business" says the judge, and I go back to the bench. A few minutes later, "Juror #7, you may leave".

Somehow, at age 65, I've only ever been called for jury duty once. That time I got off because I was going to be delivering a paper at a technical conference the week they wanted me. My hypothesis for why they've never called me again is that the county has been growing so rapidly for so many years that they never get to the end of the list of "people who have never been called." Probably jinxed myself now.

There are a number of night owls in my life. I don't disparage them, but I do think there is something unlucky about this sleep pattern, in the sense that it can rob you of daylight hours. I truly need to be awake whenever the sun is up, because daylight is energizing, calming, and just all-around beneficial. And there are things you can't do (or not easily) in the dark, even with artificial light. Maybe it's because we all evolved before there was any effective artificial light.

There are a number of morning people in my life. I don't disparage them, but I do think there is something unlucky about this sleep pattern, in the sense that it can rob you of nighttime hours. I truly need to be awake half the night, because nighttime energizes my brain, calms me, and is just all-around beneficial to my well-being. Also, there are things you can't do (or not as effectively) when the rest of the human world is bustling like a mad thing all around you.


Hi EB, I'm afraid I'm going to land on you a little hard, but your comment is exactly what I'm talking about when I cite the "different is worse" attitude toward people who are different from oneself, and/or different from the statistical norm. You've taken the way you thrive, defined it as the norm, and framed those of us who don't function in that way as somehow inferior, or lacking. ("Unlucky." Which in some sense I don't disagree with, but for the most part precisely because the morning-person world refuses to see that some of us actually do thrive best in different circumstances from others.)

What russell describes, that's me, too. I'm fairly useless in the morning, even if "morning," as defined by when I get out of bed, is several hours into the daylight part of the day. I have another pit in the late afternoon, when I get sluggish and logy. My brain really gets going at eight or nine in the evening, and I work far more effectively at midnight than at noon.

Yes, we evolved before there was effective artificial light, but lots of creatures are up and about at night, not just night-oriented humans.

Different strokes.

Great story, Tony.

Some years ago I too was called for jury duty in Middlesex County, and was instructed to be in Lowell, about an hour from my home in Cambridge, at 8AM.

I called and asked whether I might instead do my time at the courthouse in Cambridge, ten minutes away, but this was not possible, so I set my alarm. When it went off the first thing I heard was a news report that said something like, "The trial of so-and-so, accused of beating his three-year-old daughter to death, is scheduled to begin today in Lowell."

Oh dear.

I went through the routines Tony describes and was the first to be called up. I was rejected, and went home. I never learned how the whole thing came out. I couldn't find anything in the news, and so presume there was a last-minute plea deal.

Yikes. That would have been a nasty thing to get in the middle of.

What I understand from a friend who is mostly a criminal defense lawyer is that the state generally assigns people to courts in districts other than their own, to make it less likely that you'll know the parties involved.

Makes sense, but not convenient for jurors.

I read somewhere that humans, if kept away from clocks and access to daylight, go on a six hours awake, six asleep cycle. I think a cycle like tha twould suit me.

Let me not neglect to mention the heart-stopping glory of a starry night (one of the reasons I live where I live), or the exhilaration of a walk in the woods by the light of a big moon shining off new-fallen snow.

Dawn can indeed be beautiful if you can get your eyes open enough to see it, but there are compensations for missing it.

there are a lot of folks who find it necessary to actively cast aspersions on night people, as if we have some sort of character flaw.

I blame Ben Franklin.

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise.
Talk about coming down hard on those who are different!

Of course, he was just riffing on Aristotle:

It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.
I suppose there might have been some merit in the approach, in the days when the only source of illumination was the sun. Getting up at dawn means more hours in which to work. But in the modern world? Not so much.

What russell describes, that's me, too. I'm fairly useless in the morning, even if "morning," as defined by when I get out of bed, is several hours into the daylight part of the day.

I'm certainly not at optimum early in the daylight hours. But I learned long ago (of necessity!) how to run on autopilot during the first part of my day. Not great, but adequate. Even when "the early part" is a job starting at 6 A< -- because I was working on the West Coast for a brokerage, and we had to be up and running for Market Open in New York (9:30 Eastern). Most East Coast chauvinism, there.

Our county courts are some of the busiest in the country, so I've been called a few times and made it into jury selection twice. First time I was not one of the selected jurors. Second time I made it into the box and was dismissed during the first challenge after telling the prosecutors that I had a Ph.D. in rhetoric and taught classes in argument.

Thank you for your time. Good-bye.

I had one stint as an alternate juror back in the 70s. (Avoid being an alternate if you possibly can! You sit thru the trial. Then, while the real jurors deliberate, you sit on a chair outside the jury room and twiddle your thumbs. Possibly for several days.)

Then got another chance a year ago. (Yes, I got selected both times I was called. Advanced degree notwithstanding.) I may be wrong, but I would give odds that it was the first trial for both the ADA and the Public Defender.

After we finished, the judge invited us all to the lobby to chat with her and both counsels. I did that. But also went home and write a multi-page email critique, which I sent to them. Everything from jury selection (one juror was a fireman: "If the police arrested him, he must be guilty of something.") to how they did closing arguments (slides should not feature paragraph long blocks of text) to critical evidence (If a witness says he was chasing the defendant away across the parking lot, why was the hammer thrown at him out in the street, as the evidence photo shows? The physics don't work. You should mention that, as it imputed the witness credibility.).

I don't know if it helped the going forward.

cleek has a really cool math article on his blog about generating the digits of pi by colliding ideal frictionless blocks.

I think you can also generate a calculation of pi by having a blind person play darts.

Just be careful where you're standing.

Dropping a needle on a wooden floor will also do.

I got bounced from two jury pools due to the wrong answers during dire voir or noir voir or whatever it is called. I was asked if it seemed like a threat to me for someone to go on to another person's property while carrying a loaded gun. Still it was an interesting experience.

Laura, was the "wrong" answer "Yes" or "No"? (I'm guessing it would differ, depending on where you were....)

I must be doing something wrong, cuz I get called for Jury Duty every 5 years like clockwork. My experience has mostly been in Brooklyn Supreme Court, but I was called for Southern District this summer. 15-20 minutes to the train (and parking), an hour to Grand Central, another 30 minutes or so on the subway down to Pearl St, then security...

And they want you there at 8:30AM. ProTip: If you get there before 10, you're fine. This is true of both places.

One big difference between Brooklyn and SDNY - no electronic devices in Federal Court. In Brooklyn, phones & laptops were allowed. They even had a coffee station and computers to check email. It's been a while, so maybe that has changed.

No go at SDNY. They explicitly tell you not to bring your phone in the notification, but everyone ignores it. So there's another queue to check your phone after the initial checkpoint. Which means another queue to get your phone for lunch. And recheck it again. So that gets built in to the lunch hour. And we can't go to the fancy cafeteria where the lawyers and judges hang out because we might take photos and put them on Instagram or something. Understandable, but annoying. But you're cut off from the world for your stay, excepting lunch. Frankly, asking me to travel 2 hours one way and not bring a phone is absurd.

Anyway, the phone system beats the hell out of actually having to show up every day. I only had to show up one day, and I was given the all-clear/time-served by Thursday night.

Another ProTip (NY): If you postpone, you are asked to choose a date to serve. I've had good luck scheduling around the 4th of July. The judges and attorneys want to get to their beach houses for the holiday, so they're inclined to let everyone go early. That's been my experience twice, FWIW.

Unlike TonyP, I've never been empaneled (impaneled?). I got close once, for some Taxi-accident personal injury thing, but I questioned the number of specialists on the defendant's list and may have uttered the words "frivolous lawsuit". I feel a little guilty about that. I like to think I can be impartial. I've seen "12 Angry Men". Alas, that was apparently sufficient to substantiate my lack of qualification to participate in the justice-meteing-outing. I like to think I can mete out justice. Or mete justice out. Or one of those permutations.


But this is about sleep.

So, I'm sorry. If you're still reading, you are beyond my ability to dumb you into unconsciousness. You need clinical help.

I'm also a night guy. There's a peace of mind to it - the probability of interruption diminishes as the night goes on. I don't know what it is, but there's always one more thing to see or read or do before shutting it down. It's not entirely rational.

I enjoy the early morning as well, for many of the same... ok, not reasons, but the solitude, I guess. And that promise of a new day. Like going out in a fresh snow, before the pristine is spoiled by the churned grime of plows and shovels. Or being first in the peanut butter jar. I'm bad at metaphors.

If I had to hazard a guess, it might be that the night is mine. The events of the day are settled, as much as they can be, and I can extend time as I see fit. The morning, with all of its promise, carries the weight of what one needs to do. There's a certain anxiety/anticipation to the morning that evening escapes. I dunno. YMMV.

Really? Still awake?

Ok, 4:50 EST.

Anybody awake?

Are you just getting up, or haven't you gone to bed yet?


...but I think the notion of, say, a 27-hour cycle would account well for my tendency to stay up later and later if I don't make a strong effort to rein myself in.

You are clearly a lunar person, JanieM (which is nothing like a lunatic).

I'm a night person. My experience is that, at some point on most nights, I find myself looking at the clock and telling myself I really should go to bed. Sometimes I do what I tell myself at a reasonable hour (according to the prevailing paradigm), and sometimes I resist until a not-so-reasonable hour.

Every so often, I have the crash night, when it catches up to me and I fall asleep - without trying to - at 9 PM.

Without going back (no time) my impression is that almost everyone who has commented on it has confirmed that they too are night people. I wonder what proportion of our population(s) is composed of night people? And if this blog has an anomalous proportion, that's interesting.

I had noticed years ago that a disproportionate number of folks in IT seem to be night people. And the folks here seem to be, disproportionately, in IT. Which would go a long way towards explaining what we see here.

When I use to keep regular sleeping hours, if I didn't go to sleep before midnight, I would become wide awake and have trouble going to sleep.

wj: true. In a blog where someone can post \m/ and be understood (but not by me!), your comment is pretty persuasive.

I was a morning person until I was 55 years old: almost incapable of sleeping through sunrise unless ill or exhausted.

Then at 55 I suddenly started to find it difficult to get up and get going in the mornings. More and stronger coffee helped for a while. Then I started needing naps. Eventually it became a complete drag to arise before 9:00.

In December I finally went in for a sleep study. In the night they observed, sleep apnea completely prevented me from entering the deepest phase of sleep, and almost completely shut me out of the next-deepest.
Apparently I've been dealing with toxic levels of sleep deprivation for years.

So I got the recommended continuous-airway-pressure machine. It's not fun to use, but it's tolerable.

And now I wake up refreshed at 6:00 AM, my energy level his higher throughout the day, and my emotions are much less likely to shade into hopeless depression.

If you snore, or if seven hours of sleep doesn't seem to get you rested, and especially if you sometimes feel an overwhelming need to sleep while sitting up ...
you might think about having sleep study done.

GftNC, imagine \m/ as a symbol one would make with one’s fingers, perhaps at a concert - an especially loud concert most likely.

Joel, after a decade it does one other thing. It's the trigger to my brain that it is time to sleep. 5 minutes to sleep almost always.

I've done one day's jury service in my life, on 8th December 1980 (a date I can readily look up). I wasn't offered the option to affirm, but when I asked the request was readily granted.

The policeman who was the main prosecution witness in the trial for theft made a mess of his evidence, the prosecution then agreed to drop most of the charges in exchange for a guilty plea on the cannabis found growing in the defendant's garage. The judge sentenced him harshly for that, perhaps because he, quite reasonably, thought him guilty on all counts.

I'm the only morning person I've ever known. If I sleep past 4 it's a welcome miracle. All my family, everybody I've known from college until today - night people. It used to be incredibly frustrating, especially in shared room situations, but I've long since adjusted to it, you slugabeds.

john (not mccain): if you have no objection to answering, what is/was your profession? And what do (most of) your friends/family do, if there is a most common category of profession? College may not really count, because apparently most teenagers sleep late given the chance....

hsh: I can't seem to make that with my fingers - so none the wiser I'm afraid (although thanks for trying to explain!). But from what you say it looks like the original comment may have been the IT reference, not this mysterious symbol.

I'm a legal secretary working 8:30-5. I could sleep until 7 and still get to work on time, but nope, not even with a sleep aid. My body wants to be up early and will not be denied.

There really isn't a common profession among my friends/family. The only one of them that it makes sense they'd be a night person is my SO, who is a punk rock drummer. I wish I'd been one of those late sleeping teenagers. I really do love to sleep!

hsh: I can't seem to make that with my fingers - so none the wiser I'm afraid (although thanks for trying to explain!). But from what you say it looks like the original comment may have been the IT reference, not this mysterious symbol.

Look at your palm. Bring your ring and middle fingers down and hold them there with your thumb, leaving your index finger and pinkie pointed straight and spread apart about as far out as they can go comfortably. Keep your hand like that and raise your arm into the air. Then imagine you're listening to Iron Maiden and really, really liking it.

Oho, that's the hex sign! Or, in Italy I believe, the sign of the cuckold or cornuto. Got it!

Yes. In fact, Ronnie James Dio, who was of at least partly Italian descent, got it from his Italian grandmother and popularized it within metal culture.

And now there's a \m/ emoji on smartphones which is associated with 'Rock On'. But if you type 'Metal' or even 'Slllllayyyyyyerrrr!' ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy2qUkLJA6Y ) you don't even get prompted for it. The wimp-rock bastards stole it from us metal-heads. But I digress.

I have found, along the lines of what Pete suggested, that if you ask for a rescheduling of jury duty to a Friday, you may well not be called up on the new date. Not that I object to jury duty qua jury duty, I just hate the idea of all the work I would have to catch up on afterwards.

I am neither a morning person nor night person. I like being awake because there's stuff to do so it's easy to stay up late, but I do love seeing the sun rise, and I enjoy the quiet of early morning. Also 1) I am approaching middle age and 2) I like doing tai chi outside, and 3) you're sort of an a-hole by definition if you're a middle-aged white man who does tai chi in public. So if I get up early enough that it is still dark, I can get my tai chi on without feeling like a moron. (n.b.: at least I don't have a ponytail.)

And now I see it's bedtime. Cheers!

(n.b.: at least I don't have a ponytail.)

But your man-bun is exquisite! \m/

I'll see your \m/, and raise you a Cthulhu ☬

(assuming my html-fu has not failed)

By the way, john (not mccain), thanks for answering!

When I did a turn at jury duty in Lowell, we jurors got to wait in Daniel Webster's old courtroom. They still had the old iron potbelly stove. I didn't get called. My number was too high, so I got to head home around one.

You interest me strangely, Kaleberg. Were you at Superior Court on Thorndike Street? I ask because I've never set foot in the place, despite Lowell being more or less my home town for half a century.


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