Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My jury duty questionnaire: "Do you agree that a corporation is a person?"

It was time for me to serve on jury duty again. It's easy to get out of jury duty but frankly I think the jury system is the backbone of America. Serving on a jury is the most patriotic thing I can do -- aside from protesting election fraud.

So there I was in the courtroom. Jury selection. "This trial is a civil trial. A corporation is suing a corporation. Does anybody have trouble with the belief that a corporation is a person?" There were 58 people in that jury pool. Not one of them raised their hand. Except for me. I went OFF on that poor sweet judge.

"What do you MEAN that a corporation is a person!!!! A table is not a person. A chair is not a person. And a corporation is not a person either!" Me and that guy on "Law and Order". I was on a roll.

"Your Honor!" I expounded. "In 1886, in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, a lowly LAW CLERK by the name of J.C. Bancroft Davis -- a former employee of a railroad, mind you -- SNUCK a headnote into a decision, saying that a corporation is as good as a person. That headnote was not legally binding! And for the last 118 YEARS, America has been PRETENDING that corporations were living, breathing persons! Your Honor! That's just wrong."

I paused for breath. The judge paused for the bailiff. The Plaintiff looked worried and the Defendant looked worried too -- but by golly I was going to have my day in court! "No judge has ever ruled on this issue. You can't even cite case law on this. Can a corporation die? Can a corporation father a child?" And can a corporation receive welfare? Don't answer that.

I find it very hard to believe that every day, across this great nation of ours, thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of perspective jurors are being asked this very same question and yet the whole nation-wide jury pool hasn't stood up in open rebellion when asked this stupid, cheesy question. "Does anybody have trouble with the belief that a corporation is a person?" What are we? A nation of sheep?

Needless to say, I was excused from jury duty. A corporation, however, did not step up to take my place. Why? Because a corporation is not allowed to serve on juries. Why not? Because at least someone somewhere has the good sense to realize that A CORPORATION IS NOT A PERSON!

PS: Even if this case hadn't been a legal battle between two corporations, I still wouldn't have been able to serve because the trial would have taken place during the exact same three weeks as the Girl Scout cookie selling season! My daughter's troop takes cookie selling very seriously. They have already sold 50,000 boxes and need to sell 5,000 more boxes this year.

"Your Honor, I need to be excused," I could have said, "so I can stand in front of the Berkeley Bowl for three weeks and sell Girl Scout cookies." Your Honor! It's the law! SOMEBODY has got to keep UC Berkeley students supplied with Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints!


Disclaimer: My political views are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Girl Scouts of America, an organization devoted to helping girls reach their full potential. However, every single person under (or over) the age of 25 should be deadly concerned about George Bush's dogged determination to bankrupt our great nation. Why is he doing this? Because poor people work for cheap. That's just the way the cookie crumbles -- and, if Uncle George has his way, we'll all soon be working for crumbs.


Buy cookies! If you live in Berkeley and need cookies between now and March 21, let me know! And our troop will be selling on March 4, 2005 in front of UC Berkeley and the downtown Berkeley BART station. After that, we will be at the Berkeley Bowl Marketplace. Bon appetite!


If corporations are people, why aren't they paying taxes? In 1955, corporations paid 40% of American taxes. Now they only pay 7%. We the People get to pay almost all of them.


From "Amy goes to Probate Court": Everything you'd ever want to know about probate court -- and much much more.