Welcome back to our mini-series set in Chicago, circa 2007. If you missed anything, you can catch up here.
Loyal followers, I am thinking of changing my blog to mob-mob-mob. Please stay tuned as this story unfolds over the next few weeks. I promise to return you to the everyday madness of laughter and bodily functions.
To new readers who found me through the trial: I hope you enjoy this rare inside perspective and our twisted sense of humor. It’s how we deal. And be sure to stick around after this story wraps up. I write a lot about crime and family secrets.
As potential jurors, were instructed not to tell anyone, watch the news, research online, and basically stay in a bubble until the selection was finalized. Not an easy task, but I did not research any of the details, although I really had the urge to rent Casino all of a sudden.
They gave us a number to call a few days later to let us know if we were to come in again. I dialed in and found out that my number was chosen to return for the next round. I recall they put us in shifts, and about 6 to 8 of us would walk into a large courtroom with the judge, the defendants and their attorneys. One by one, the judge would ask each juror questions. They stemmed from previous arrests, relatives in the police force, or if you preferred your bread with olive oil or butter. (Joking on that one).
I couldn’t imagine what he would ask me. I can BS my way through job interviews, but what if he asks about the adult entertainment or gambling issues? I started playing through my mind different scenarios. I know I’m supposed to split 8s and double on 11 if the dealer has a 10, but what else could there be? I’ve never been to the AVN awards, I hope that is an appropriate answer.
Finally, “Okay, #264 (still not my weight), you claim to know people in convention bureaus in Phoenix and Las Vegas, can you explain that?” Of course I grab the mic, feeling like a big shot, and tell them I book conventions in those cities but really don’t have any roots established there. And of course Your Honor, this would not deter from me being impartial.
Like any normal guy, as I sat there staring at the defendants, I wondered if I could “take” any of these guys in the room. These mafia guys looked old, but mean. In hindsight, I think I’d be able to take 3 of the 5.
We were then shipped to a jury holding room while I think they rolled dice to see who got chosen. Inside, the ego freaks were saying how they were too important to be gone that long. Other potential jurors put together puzzles. Me? I just hung out, tried to see if I could get a Diet Coke and maybe follow the Cub game on my phone. Again, why not make the best of a situation? I’m a glass half full guy.
At least I was at that time.
We are finally told to go home and call in tomorrow after 5 p.m. to find out if you will be required to report to trial. The next day was pretty long and it was finally time to call. Being honest here, I had a good buddy who was more excited about this than I was. He inquires, “Did you call?” I’m like, “No, you wanna call?” So he checks, and calls me back: “You’re in.” My initial reaction is, I gotta tell my mom, and she is gonna worry.
So that same night, one of the defendant’s sons, Kurt Calabrese, finds a pipe bomb in his suburban yard. My wife is freaking out every time a dark car drives by our house. As usual, the drama hits high gear with her. I’m pretty oblivious to the whole thing, and Opie speaking here, figure these guys are old and what would they want with me?
On the opening day, I head to work for about an hour or so, and report to Dirksen at 9:30 a.m. (mandated by the judge). I grab a Jamba Juice, walk into the lobby and enter a media circus. Every television network is set up along with reporters and sketch artists.
The place is buzzing. I go to security, empty my pockets and I feel like Beaver Cleaver. I got probably eight bucks in change, gum wrappers, receipts, a couple of crumpled napkins and a few singles hanging out of my pockets. I had “Dork Juror” written all over me. If you were waiting behind me in line, I guarantee you’re pissed.
I get into the jury room, and take the remaining seat in the corner next to Lindy who would become my buddy during the rest of the trail. The jury room is like a miniature (10 x 20’) purgatory. About 10 jigsaw puzzles and a small fridge stocked with water and some Diet Cokes. It had two bathrooms, but if I had to sit to do my business, I would not be very popular among my comrades. Mind you, there were 18 of us shoehorned in here. Needless to say, I held in any deposits until lunchtime.
First piece of action, like any red-blooded male, I look around and see if there is any “talent” in the room. I radar a cute redhead, who I so brilliantly nicknamed “Red,” who was putting together a puzzle of the Hancock Tower with some other jurors.
Finally, to break the ice, boredom and overall tension in the room, I throw out: “Hey Red, you happily married?” She looks at me, startled. I say, “I gotta feeling we are gonna be in here awhile, how about a little side action?”
Of course that went over like a turd on a witness stand, but I think I did loosen them up a bit.
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