By Marci Vogel
The summons arrives through a slot in the door, boldface warning in the upper right-hand corner: Failure to respond may subject you to a fine, incarceration or both, as well as performance of jury service, a sequence of consequences I interpret as equating civic duty with criminality, only I can’t be entirely clear because there’s no answer at the number listed (213-972-0907); the assembly room may be open but no one seems to be assembled, and so I enter the virtual portal, two letters beyond another word for refuge, harbor, shelter, all hope abandoned as I work my way through My Info, My Summons, and the post-orientation video quiz: True or False: I am not allowed to discuss, text, e-mail, or post on social media sites any information about my experiences while I am serving jury duty, but there’s no way to ask Does this sentence count? or Is it really true that if selected we are triers of fact? because—to tell the truth and nothing but the whole truth so help me G—I’d rather try the lead in the water, the secret payout, the backroom deal; because the fact is Here for You | Safe for You couldn’t keep even death row safe for lethal injection; because I don’t ever want to forget that justice is what love looks like in public; because money may be the root of all evil, but the root of pandemic means all people: innocent until guilty, as charged.
Marci Vogel is the author of Death and Other Holidays (Melville House, 2018) and a potential juror for the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
Art by Linda Arreola.