On jury duty: Fighting over soaps

Stephen Baker

Jury duty in Newark. The administrator explains the process to me and about 100 of my sullen Essex County peers: You're performing a valuable service and duty to democracy. There's the coffee, there's the TV. None of it's surprising until she tells us one of the rules: No soap operas. Turns out that jurors in the past have come to blows over soap operas. Administrators have had to call in the guards to pull them apart. Soap operas are clearly too combustible for courts of law. So the TV watchers reluctantly tuned into game shows. Later in the afternoon, I noticed, soap operas were on. The mood in the jury pool, though, didn't seem too explosive. More like catatonic. We were dismissed en masse at the end of the day.

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