First, I must apologize. I made no attempt to make a good picture for the 365 today, nor did I attempt to learn anything new about making pictures.

Second, I must apologize again, because this post will be rather lengthy. Given that few of you read my posts anyway, the uninspiring picture is unlikely to illicit much reading, and if you do read it all, it’s unlikely to provide much.

Third, the Jury Trial is a sacred institution, designed to protect common people from tyrants. This sacred trust is under constant attack from the rich and powerful (not to mention judicial overreach), and we must protect it.

Now, on to my observations.

1) There were about 30 people in the Jury waiting room. We were there from 1pm until 3:53pm, and many of us were there far longer. (I arrived at 12:10, and there were people already waiting.) Until the arrival of the cheerful bailiff to tell us that there was a good likelihood we would all be sent home early, there was absolutely no chit chat: the triumph of the introverts.

2) there was absolutely no visible security, the bailiff was rarely to be seen, and spent most of the time in some other part of the building. Imagine the havoc 35 people could wreak if so inclined! And, similarly, no one tried to sneak out early.

I almost commented on both of these aloud, but stopped myself, probably for the same reasons there was no chit chat and no havoc-wreaking.

Now, to my comments.

A) This was a jury summons for municipal court in the City of Dallas. That means, the trials all concerned traffic violations (under $200), class ‘C’ misdemeanors (under $500), code violations (under $2000), and rare cases of civil trials valued less than $2000.

[During the Congratulations on Being Selected as a Juror, Valued Citizen welcome video, the Municipal Judge, the Honorable What’s-his-Name, specifically mentioned Red Light Cameras and Water Restrictions (there are restrictions on when and how you may water your lawn in TX, and many other locales).]

They run two shifts of trials per day, 8 dockets, 80-90 trials per docket. That’s roughly 1,300 trials per day, and they call 70 people to serve as jurors for those trials.

That’s a fairly low turnover rate.

B) Take a look at the furniture and other accoutrement in this drab space.

If you removed the flags (or shoved them into a corner), you’d have a for-profit university lecture hall or megachurch meeting space or a community center multipurpose space.

If you removed the rows of chairs, dais, and flags, and if you added many more cubbies, you’d have an average office space.

What is this setting supposed to evoke?

Awe in the power and processes of the legal system?
Confidence in your powers as a Juror, in the Judicial system itself?
Comfort in the familiarity of the objects, materials, colors, and their arrangement?

Did anyone consider what this setting might evoke when they constructed it in this way?

The Patriotic part of me is dismayed by the soul-crushing dullness of it.
The Communist part of me is overjoyed in the proletarian-ness of it.
The Philosopher in me wants to go far deeper into all of this.
The Art Historian in me wants to take the conversation in a different direction.

Believe me, I could go on.

But I won’t. Kudos if you’ve read this far!

One last thing (largely unrelated): given that the iPhone 5 was announced today, I think it’s appropriate that I submit an picture from the iPhone 4, the camera that got me interested in making pictures in a serious manner. And I believe today marks roughly the second anniversary of my iPhone. Nice.

iPhone 4. 645 Pro. ISO200, 1/15th, f/2.8 (all controlled by the app). Minor tweaks to bring the image closer to my memory, and a tiny bit of straightening to bring the flag vertical.

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