"The Deep End of the Jury Pool"

© 1999
J. Mitch Hopper

Things have changed. In this work of fiction, Carle 37 Metzger is about to come face to face with a future version of a jury of his peers. Here is just a taste!

"Please, Lynda, not now. This is all so crazy. There's nobody to sit down and talk straight with. My father always talked about the simpler times, the better times, but his little speeches went in one ear and out the other. Maybe he was right, I don't know."

Lynda leaned in and made closer eye contact. "He made a lot of that stuff up, didn't he? I mean, really... juries made up of only twelve! How was that supposed to work?"

"Yea, he made up a lot of stuff. Walk twelve miles to work - in the snow? That was a load! But, he was right about the courts. I've seen some of the old books. Before the change, in the before-times, they had twelve people decide a case. I'm not sure how they kept that honest - they probably didn't. I guess that was the point of changing it. I mean, think about it, so few people to handle such an important thing? I can't imagine."

John got up and moved closer to the vid-wall and sighed. "But this, this... isn't right."

"What? You mean the time?" Lynda remained on her chair-arm perch.

"Yea. They used to do this in a separate place. It wasn't part of the vid-wall... wasn't part of the program. I don't understand how the Commonwealth thinks. I mean, the same case is decided differently depending on what time it is."

"They say it all balances out in the end. I don't know. I've never thought about it before." She looked up from her hands to Carle's face and then reflexively spoke up to the ceiling. "I trust the Commonwealth to do what's right."

Carle moved back toward his wife. "A court house for the court. That's the way it should have stayed. I think dad may have been right on that one."

The soft electronic voice returned. "Attention please. Attention. I am the Commonwealth."

Again, the disembodied human baritone followed. "Hear, ye. Hear ye. Hear ye. Case number 77-0-91, Herbert W. 92Armstrong versus the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. All those with business before the court come forward and be heard. The jury will have one additional minute with which to review the facts of this case before rendering a verdict. Failure to recognize your duty will be dealt with severely in civil court. Come forward and ye shall be heard." The painfully rehearsed voice disappeared into the apartment walls.

"I hate this. I haven't even been paying attention. Am I still a unit-jury? Can a defendant be a unit-jury?" He was asking a rhetorical question and directing it to mid-air. Carle had never had to consider this line of possibility before. From the moment of his birth into this world he was destined to be a worker-bee a drone. In real life, there are soldiers and sailors, whores and celebrities, but Carle was an accountant a fly-speck in the human population. Menial tasks for the millions. What does the legal system really want with a fly-speck, he wondered?

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