Jury Duty 7-15-16

No 29 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury

Friday, July 15, 2016

Jury Duty

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The week before and after July 4th holiday I was on jury duty on a criminal case. When my jury summons arrived, I felt my heart sink. I was called to downtown LA court from Santa Monica and I tried many calls to change to change courts with no phone calls being answered. I gave in and registered to serve in Los Angeles.

Having just used the brand new Expo line to downtown, I knew that I could take the train to court every day. The pre-recorded message began to list the 5 downtown street closures so I knew the train was good for me.  I do not have a fear of public speaking or dancing in front of hundreds, but I have a problem driving somewhere I’m not familiar. The looking and listening to the lady on Google Maps drives me nuts, and how are you supposed to drive in downtown traffic looking at your phone?

Having to be downtown early the first day was tough, for I had called in each day just to hear I did not have to go, then on Thursday, the recording said YES! I dressed in my best Arthur Murray suit and went down.

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What an unhappy group of prospective jurors! We first waited, then we were called, then we went into to court for final jury selection. Some tried to get out of it. The judge warned us that if we acted trained from YouTube videos on how to avoid service, that he would send us to a 3-week civil case!

When I was interviewed, the judge asked what I did and I proudly answered that I owned an Arthur Murray Dance Center and had been dancing for 41 years. He asked if I liked my work and I said I loved my career!

After many hours of selection, I was one of the 12. The second day the Prosecution asked me about my one-word self-description that I had given the first day which was “Service”. She asked me why I said that, and I responded that at my funeral I want it to be said I lived a life of service for others.  Then, she commented on my attire of wearing a suit for the second day. I responded that I was an Arthur Murray professional and that is how I always dressed.

Two days of testimony wore us down, being a total of 4 days in court by then.  On the second day, on the breaks, I played Salsa music on my phone and started dancing in the main hall. Guess what, people smiled back at me. I openly danced and was asking everyone for a chance to teach a Salsa class to our jury.

We took a 5th day to finish testimony then go to the deliberation room. For the first time, everyone said on the break “Now we can have our Salsa class!”  We were all so tired from the stress that I openly danced in the corridor during every break. By the last and 6th day, I finally got my chance to openly dance with some of the jurors! The bailiff said, “I’m ready to dance with you as well!” but we were all then called in to court.

We ended up a hung jury and it was truly stressful. Leaving at 8:30 AM, returning to the school at 6 PM directly from the train and dancing to 10 PM or later had taken a physical toll on my mind, heart and body! What saved me was the dancing and the laughter. Yes, I took my Arthur Murray fun to court and shared the love of dancing with everyone I came in contact with.

Keep On Dancing!

David Woodbury

DavidEarlWoodbury@gmail.com (email me if you like my blogs!)

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