Just us

Lady Justice told us we were free to go.

While all y’all were hunting old welder’s masks, ski goggles and colanders with which to view the eclipse, I was sitting in room 127 at the Bernalillo County Courthouse, waiting to see if my wisdom would be required on a jury.

There was a sizable crowd of us, and three trials, the Duke City being something of a Russian novel, crime-and-punishment-wise. The first call missed me, as did the second, but the third hit the bullseye, and off I went with the rest of the remainders to the courtroom of the Honorable Beatrice J. Brickhouse.

We got the “All rise” and a cheery greeting from Her Honor … and that was pretty much it. The parties had agreed to settle mere moments earlier, and thus 12 angry persons would not be helping resolve their disagreement, whatever that might have been. Maybe it was about who got custody of the eclipse sunglasses.

It would be easy to get pissed over a morning down the judicial rathole, but everybody was just so darn nice I thought I had been magically transported back to Canada.

Plus I got paid $7.50 an hour for working on a Bicycle Retailer column and texting various cronies. Beauty, eh? Take off, you hosers. Go watch an eclipse or something.


21 Responses to “Just us”

  1. canamsteve Says:

    Geeze Louise!

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I’m sorry, I can’t resist. In honor of her honor.

    • Carl Duellman Says:

      that song makes me wish i could dance.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      It surely is a sexist song, and I probably should be reprimanded by Patrick for my comment. But, Carl hit the nail on the head. The drums and bass line on that song are irresistible to your feet. And it was 1977, yet the song remains popular today. I listen to it when I’m house cleaning or cooking.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I like that song too. Old white guys should not dance (and I was no great shakes as a young white guy), but every time I hear the Commodores, Temptations, Four Tops, Gladys Knight, Aretha, etc., I feel the urge.

  3. khal spencer Says:

    I was only on one jury. A second one was discharged prior to trial as yours was, i.e., the parties chickened out and settled when they found out a jury was being seated.

    I ended up elected foreman on the other one. Everyone worked their asses off to convince ourselves we followed the law and came to the proper conclusion. That was back in Honolulu.

    It was a difficult and painful domestic violence case. I tried to get out of it by reciting to the judge my parent’s all too often violent dysfunction, but that only ensured the judge refused to let me off the hook or as she put it, “You are a university scientist. Can you decide this on the evidence?” Guess I should have lied. For some reason the DA and defense attorneys didn’t voir dire me either.

    We acquitted the defendant on reasonable doubt but held our noses the entire time. As foreman, I got to deliver the news to the court. The judge, afterwards, told us we were spot on but also told us all the excluded stuff we could not have known for reasons of prejudicing the case.

    What I came away with was that the jury, made up of ordinary folks, took its job absolutely seriously in a difficult decision making environment. It was the most amazing “American Experience” I had ever had. Probably to this day.

    • Hurben Says:

      Not just an American experience, we do the same thing downunder & I’ve been called up several times.

      Given that most of the trials are dealing with Ratbags, my tactic is to wear my best business suit so that the defense lawyers always challenge my selection, hasn’t failed me so far..

      Patrick, I remember seeing ’12 Angry Men’, I’mjust don’t remember why.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s always an education, seeing how the golderned gummint works up close and personal.

      The default position for many of us is, of course, that gummint can’t do anything right … which is slightly foot-shooting, in that the gummint is us, or should be.

      But once you become involved in some way, you see that the gummint is just people, most of them trying to do the best they can.

      The court’s employees were cheerful and helpful, and the potential jurors I spoke with seemed ready — some of them even eager — to shoulder their burden.

      When I mentioned that as a self-employed scribe I didn’t earn if I wasn’t actually cobbling together some fake news, a young mother noted that not only was she missing a day on the job, she had to pay for child care, a double whammy.

      Herself served a tour of duty last month and drew a short trial. She found it fascinating, especially when a closer look at the evidence changed her initial opinion about whether the defendant was guilty or innocent.

      The bulk of my experience with the judiciary has been either as a reporter or a defendant. If it’s not a deadline, it’s “Will the defendant please rise?”

    • khal spencer Says:

      Not surprising, Hurben, since its actually a British institution that all us former colonies inherited.

  4. John O Says:

    Big Payday!

  5. canamsteve Says:

    I served on a jury once – but it was at the Old Bailey in London. I got off easy – one trial in two weeks of service

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Herself got one trial in three weeks, but I guess she dodged a bullet too. The court types said on average we could expect to get called down to the courthouse three times, or once per week. The novelty might wear off by then, eh?

  6. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Reminds me of the time they interviewed me for a case where the plaintiff was wearing a neck brace. One of the attorneys asked what was the first thing I thought of when he said “whiplash”? “Fraud” was my response to snickers from the spectators. Next up was “What do you consider a serious injury?” and my reply was, “Well, uh…I race motorcycles, if you can get up and walk away from a crash you’re not seriously injured.” which got me outta there. Found out later from a guy who ended up on the jury that they handed the guy $5K in damages despite the fact they HE pulled out in front of the other motorist in the crash! Lady Justice got mugged.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We should’ve drafted you and your skepticism into journalism, Larry. I can see you and BRAIN’s Matt Wiebe tag-teaming product managers at Interbike:

      “Nope … nuh uh … sounds like bullshit to me … you gotta be kidding me, amirite? … nope. Nope. NOPE!”

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Detecting bullshit these days is like trying to smell a rose in a perfume factory.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Yep, I made as many enemies in the bike and moto biz as friends with my low tolerance for BS disguised as marketing mojo. Back-in-the-day I remember a cigarette maker wanting to attach their logo to my moto racing suit, saying they’d pay prize money based on results. They weren’t too happy when I explained there was not enough $$ in the world to get me to endorse cancer-sticks, no matter who sold them!

  7. Charlie Versteeg Says:


    Sounds like your ‘jury duty’ experience was similar to mine. (somewhat entertaining and a waste of many peoples valuable time when you could have been riding or sleeping.)

    I very much enjoy your writing and bike knowledge and GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR. Recently reviewed your favorable reviews of the Specialized Sequoia and the Co-Motion Deschutes in consecutive editions of Adventure Cycling. I am debating between the two. I mostly do day rides and credit card tours. (Trying to avoid traffic.- taking backroads). I live 3 hrs. from the nearest Co-Motion dealer ( and also the company). I like the lower gearing of the Deschutes, but if you had trouble with the tire exchange, I’m sure many others including myself would too. I do have a local specialized bike shop.

    If I swear to never reveal where I got advice, which one would you recommend for your older brother or the long lost friend / cousin?

    Keep up the great writing and your excellent humor.


    Charlie (verstec45@gmail.com)

    On Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 4:44 PM, Mad Blog Media wrote:

    > Patrick O’Grady posted: ” While all y’all were hunting old welder’s > masks, ski goggles and colanders with which to view the eclipse, I was > sitting in room 127 at the Bernalillo County Courthouse, waiting to see if > my wisdom would be required on a jury. There was a sizable c” >

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, Charlie, thanks for enjoying my little clown act. Not everybody does, for some reason. The lawyers keep trying to explain it to me, but I can’t afford to listen for more than about 30 billable seconds, so it never really sinks in.

      I would be happy with either the Sequoia or the Deschutes. I favor the Deschutes because I know a few of the guys at Co-Motion and I like supporting their work (it helps that their work is stellar). They ride a ton and what they’ve learned gets built into every bike they sell. I really enjoyed their imaginative drivetrain — Wolf Tooth Tanpan, 11-40 cassette, 105 STI, FSA crank with 46/30 rings, SLX derailleur. That’s thinking outside the box, for sure.

      Dwan Shepard, one of Co-Motion’s co-founders, told me he was able to swap tires on a Deschutes wheel without any trouble, and without any tools, so the issue I encountered during my review could have been a problem with me rather than with wheel or tire. I’ve dislocated the thumb and middle finger on my left hand in crashes and have lost some hand strength as a consequence. Never had much to start with, frankly.

      Also, with so many gravel riders going tubeless, a tight fit is imperative, and we’re seeing the upshot of that craze in wheel and tire design, I expect.

      All this being said, if you like your local Specialized dealer, and the Sequoia appeals to you, it’ll certainly be easier for you to get a test ride on one, and your outlay will be lower if you go for the $1,350 model I reviewed. The midrange model goes for $2,000, so the financial gap narrows considerably.

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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