Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Using your analytical left brain to get out of Jury Duty

Usually a Ph.D. does it, but sometimes our city's courts are so desperate, or a particular panel of jurors too educated, for lawyers to peremptorily dismiss all those with advanced degrees. This was driven home to me several years ago when I served on my first jury.

A fascinating experience, particularly for me as a linguist.

But this time around, it was urgent that I get out, as I've just started teaching a graduate class for which there's no one who can substitute. While this doesn't constitute a "serious hardship," it was, in the end, this class that helped disqualify me. Among other things, I'm teaching conversational analysis--which includes, among other things, reading between the lines.

Things looked grim during the voir dire.  I had a low number--10 out of 40--and a half dozen others had already been dismissed.  But as soon as the judge asked me what I did as a linguist, my spirits soared.

Leaving out the other, more legally innocuous hats I wear, I replied, "I do pragmatics, which means I analyze conversations."

The judge looked bemused, and said, "You mean, you can tell me what I'm really thinking?"

"Exactly," I replied.

It took less than 5 seconds for them to dismiss me.

1 comment:

rightwingprof said...

I should have thought of that. Then, I'm a syntactician, and he didn't ask me what I did, just how many languages I spoke.