After forty one years, I have finally discovered the career for which I am best suited: television show juror.
You know what I mean, one of the people who sit in the fake jury boxes on courtroom dramas like Law and Order and The Practice. They pretend to take notes, listen to fake testimony and deliver a pre-determined verdict.
Why would I make the perfect TV show juror, you ask? Well, let me tell you.
1. I’ve served on two real life juries
I was just out of college when I was called for jury duty the first time. The case wasn’t a big one. A guy was accused of dealing drugs and leading the police on a high speed chase, or the Vermont version of a high speed chase anyway, with his two kids in the backseat.
Even though it wasn’t murder or anything violent, the case really shook me. Or, to be more precise, the jury system shook me.
I remember being dismayed by how casually the other jurors were. All they cared about was getting back to their lives. They looked like they were dozing off during the trial and they had already decided whether or not the guy was guilty before opening arguments.
Luckily, I came to the same verdict after listening to all the evidence so I didn’t have to be the hold out juror.
I walked away from the experience certain of one thing: if I was ever on trial, I would waive the jury trial in favor of a bench trial.
I just don’t trust my “peers” after seeing them in action.
I was called for jury duty again just a few years later and was chosen for another jury.
This one was a child abuse case, which was even more disturbing than the drug case.
Serving on two real juries is perfect for a television juror. It’s enough to know the procedure, and how real life differs from television, but not so many trials that I’m over-trained.
Plus one defendant was found guilty and the other not guilty, so I’ve had experience with both verdicts.
And, in addition to these trials, I was voir dired (that’s when they ask questions to see if you should be empanelled. See, I even know the lingo) for a third, so I have extra experience in that area, just in case a voir dire scene pops up.
2. I look like a real person.
Real juries aren’t filled with gorgeous blonde actresses and handsome men with six pack abs. They’re real people, practically yanked off the street kicking and screaming.
But many aspiring actresses are thin and beautiful, too beautiful to look like a real person without a lot of makeup.
The makeup artists wouldn’t have to do a thing for me to look real. Just stick me in that jury box and I’m ready to go, an instant element of realism to any legal show.
And viewers would relate to me, because I look like them. They’d buy into the show more, the plot would be more believable, because Juror number three could be their sister, their neighbor or their best friend.
3. I have a background in theater.
Although I’m not an actress, I have worked backstage and directed many shows. I even worked on a show set in a courtroom in college.
I know stage directions, know what “places” means, can find my light and read a script.
And as a director, I also know how important is for chorus members, or in this case fake jurors, to not pull focus.
If I were sitting in a pretend juror box and Sam Waterston was giving a closing argument, you wouldn’t have to tell me to not pick my nose, scratch my head or anything else that would make people look at me instead of Sam.
I also know that background actors shouldn’t pull focus by overreacting. When the big reveal occurred, I wouldn’t put my hands to my face and gasp loudly or open my mouth as wide as I could to express my shock. I’d be more subtle, allowing the stars of the show to shine.
Plus, as if I haven’t already convinced you, I know how to project so I could easily serve as the jury foreperson, if the need arose.
I would say, “In the matter of the State of New York vs. Criminal Dirtbag, on the count of murder in the first degree, we the jury find the defendant guilty” in a loud and clear voice.
I would stay on script and wouldn’t improvise. I’m a professional.
4. I have watched a lot of courtroom / legal television shows.
From Ally McBeal to The Practice, from Law and Order to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, I like my lawyer shows.
I even watched one season of Drop Dead Diva, but don’t tell anyone.
And because I watch so many, I know how they work.
I know which parts of a real trial are missing on television, like the closing statement rebuttals. And I know that there’s always a big surprise just before the case is given to the jury.
I know that television jurors never look at the defendant when they walk into the courtroom no matter what the verdict and that there will be a lot of objections throughout the entire scene, even if they don’t make sense.
And as a viewer, I even know the background stories of the show’s regular attorneys. Ok, so maybe a real juror wouldn’t know that, but I think it would be helpful in adding layers to my performance.
It’s important for an artist to be passionate about their work, and who better to serve as a TV juror than a fan of the genre?
So there you have them: my extraordinary qualifications to be legal show juror. What do you think, do I have want it takes to pass imaginary judgment on pretend criminals in front of fake judges after make-believe lawyers make their cases?