A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.


By Nina Pajak

I think I’ve mentioned before that the New York Jury Duty Deities have been tailing me for years. And that I don’t appreciate it. And that after two weeks spent six years ago on a tedious, aggravating, and somewhat frivolous trial which featured a largely illiterate jury, equally whiny defendants and plaintiffs, and lawyers who give lawyers a bad name, I am not too eager to repeat the performance. And yet, they keep calling me. And now I am down to zero deferrals. My next time up, it’s either the courthouse or the bighouse. Or like, a penalty fine or something.

susan a cole Nina In New York: Jury Duty Is Probably Preferable To Being Convicted Of A Felony, But It Isnt As Funny

Susan A. Cole (credit: Denver Police)

I’ve resigned myself to a future of resumed civic duty, though I’ve been actively working on my pitch, strategizing ways to make myself look unappealing as a juror next time around. I mean, how much could they really want someone who blogs for a local news site every day? How much could they want someone who watches this much crime procedural television? I definitely fancy myself an amateur detective based on utterly untrustworthy, fictional information. Come on, bring out the big hook. You can’t possibly want the likes of me. I stink. If all else fails, I will not hesitate to explain in detail the negative impressions I formed of our nation’s justice system after my previous experience. It’s all true!

I think we all learned a valuable lesson last year after that dumb girl branded herself a repugnant racist in an effort to worm out of jury impanelment. But I’ve always felt it a disadvantage that I don’t have it in me to just go in there and boldly play the part of a lunatic or a narcoleptic or a compulsive sex addict liable to seduce a witness or third-string law associate or something. Because when it comes down to it, I suppose it’s a little ridiculous to go to such lengths to weasel out of a civic duty everyone is expected to perform every so often. And besides, if I have any self-respect at all, I should be rejected for who I am, and based on my own shortcomings. They should dislike the real me. Not some fake me. Women’s magazines taught me that.

However, if I were to psych myself into going in there all Liz Lemon with a Princess Leia costume claiming I could read minds, I now know not to go and brag about it on a local radio show. Because, as it turns out, judges listen to the radio. Also, they do not necessarily suffer short- or long-term memory loss.

Enter Susan A. Cole of Denver, CO, courtesy of our partner station. Susan pulled a fast one when called for jury duty, and then, pleased with her little story, called in to retell it on the airwaves. Here’s what she said:

I decided not to put my makeup on and I put black eyebrows on. I put bright red lipstick on. I left my hair in my curlers and I put on a t-shirt that said ‘Ask Me About My Best-Seller,’ When they asked me about mental issues I got up and said, ‘Yeah, I have some mental issues.’ Then the judge said, ‘Does anyone care if she leaves?’ And everybody else said all at once in a great big voice, ‘No.’

I give her credit for not going the unrepentant racism route. All she did was humiliate herself in front of a room full of strangers. Heck, I do that all the time! Unfortunately, the judge was listening, he got all mad and started yelling things mad judges do, like: “This whole court is out of order!” and “I hold you in contempt!” and “Harumph!” and “I sentence you to . . . DEATHHHHHH.”

No, not that last one. Sorry. He got carried away.

Anyway, now Susan has to serve 40 hours of community service and will probably get called for jury duty every six months for the rest of her life. She’s also on probation and has a felony (attempt to influence a public servant) and a misdemeanor (second-degree perjury) on her record, which will make it difficult for her to hold office, get a new job, or finally take ownership of her monthly book club. Let’s hope all future employers find marginally insane, self-published authors funny.

Watch & Listen LIVE