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Thursday, October 7, 2010

On Justice, in Downtown Brooklyn

Courthouse, Brooklyn
Photo by myself in Cadman Plaza, in Downtown Brooklyn.

A fountain within a large plaza, surrounded by plants. On sunny days, the steps are crowded with people taking lunch.

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The most fulfilling thing about jury duty was not the long periods of waiting or listening to medical testimony or searching for a decent place to eat in downtown Brooklyn.

It was meeting the other jury members, all of whom were genuine people who believed in doing good, most of them long-time New Yorkers. I imagine if a subway car broke down and the riders had a chance to talk, the experience would be similar.

There were six of us, three men and three women. The roster reads a little like the Breakfast Club - there were working mothers, a musician, a fellow who worked nights and had trouble staying awake during the trial, a local celebrity who spoke six languages, a shy first-generation Polish woman and me.

Our animated conversations involved Cuba, Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, I Love Lucy, President Obama and most of all, how hard it is to get by in New York. There was much loud laughter and a feeling of camaraderie.

We were deciding whether to award a man money for injuries sustained from a hit-and-run accident five years ago. These are tough times for accident lawsuits, by the way. If you have a history of suing people or claiming disability based on little medical evidence, I would not start another lawsuit just now. You're not likely to have a sympathetic jury.

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell. The money will stay in the pot for someone who truly deserves it. It's kind of nice to make a decision not for self-interest but for a common good. We jury members parted ways, walking a little taller, with a feeling of shared hopefulness.

Related posts: Going Postal, in Midtown, On the Market and On Manhattan Buildings and Brooklyn Beer.

7 comments:

Alistair said...

Not sure about the pic unless it's just showing the Courthouse but it's deeply encouraging that the fellow jurists are "just" ordinary folks which of course is just as it should be. The whole experience seems to have been reaffirming for you. in current times justice is so tarnished so your experience confirms that it remains an ideal worth setting at the core of our values.
Alistair

L├║cia said...

This photo is so cool Kitty!!!
It's fun to see the guy holding an umbrella "under the fountain.
And you always have something interesting to tell us too...
Kind regards

Lily Hydrangea said...

so touching to hear your jury duty story Kitty! Very inspiring.
& I love how you framed this shot btw.

Chicken Underwear said...

That building is actually Borough Hall.

Kitty said...

Thanks Alistair
It was my first time on a jury, and I'm sure most experiences are similar. At least, I hope so.

Still waiting to view your blog!!

Thank you Lucia!
That's cool you noticed the figure with the umbrella. It was a drizzly cold-ish day, one in a string of drizzly cold-ish days. Yuck.

Hi Lily
Thanks!!

Thank you for the clarification, Chicken, I have revised the title of the post.

I knew from my fellow jurors there were a few courthouses in the area (we were in the Supreme Court building). Silly me. I should know better!

Chicken Underwear said...

There is actually a room in Borough Hall called "The Court Room". When the building was built it was all the courts for Kings County, The City of Brooklyn and the traveling Federal Court. It also was where the City Council met.

Tours are given every Tuesday at 1pm. Stop in the Tourism and Visitors Center.

Ken said...

Terrific BW.