schussman.com logo

If it pleases the court

The letter to the jury administrator of the U.S. District Court looks something like this:

Dear Jury Administrator:

A summons to jury duty can be intimidating. The documents are very formal, with lots of severe bold type that is also sometimes underlined and in all caps. The documents carry with them various warnings about jail time and fines for failing to do the right things at the right time, and admonish jurors not to wear sandals or bring weapons to the courthouse. I, of course, would never think of doing either.

I take seriously my being called to jury duty, and I know it must be hard to coordinate people who really, really don’t want to show up. I’m honestly not one of them.

I did my best to fill in the form that you sent. I think I got all the circles properly filled in with my no. 2 pencil, and I wrote a nice note on the back asking to please be excused for just a couple of days. But I was a little flustered when writing it—the weight of my request for three days’ excuse heavy on my mind, perhaps—because, now that you sent me back the letter that excuses me for those three days, I see that I made an error.

I wonder if you laughed, maybe just a little, when you saw that I had asked for the weekend off. “Surely this is an error,” you must have thought. Still, it was nice of you to excuse me for that Saturday and Sunday, as well as the following Monday. Indeed, it was a mistake on my part.

So, if it’s not too much trouble and doesn’t identify me as a nincompoop, could I try that again?

Tell me what you think.