Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Case I Wish I'd Sat On

It was probably more than ten years ago that I served jury duty in Manhattan's criminal courts. The case featured an alleged drug dealer and quantities of cocaine we weren't able to hear about yet. I got as far as sitting in the jury box, answering the list of questions for the prosecution and defense attorneys.

I was eventually dismissed for what I assumed was one of two reasons:

1) The defense attorney didn't like me because I had an uncle who headed up a SWAT team.

2) The prosecutor didn't like me because I went to an exceptionally liberal, soft-on-crime sort of college.

The judge in the case was a fella by the name of Edwin Torres. He spent the Q&A portion of jury selection pacing behind his desk. I liked him a lot. He was no nonsense, funny, and totally badass.

When the lawyers attempted to ask us questions that spoke in circles around some delicate issues, they were tartly translated by Judge Torres.

Regarding the prosecutor's question: "What he's asking in his roundabout way is whether or not you hate cops. Correct?"

Regarding the defense attorney's question: "He wants to know if you're racist. Is that right?"

Both lawyers meekly responded, "Yes, thank you, your honor."

After I was dismissed from the jury box, I learned that Judge Torres was also the author of Carlito's Way. Busy judge. And again, total badass.

So it was with pleasure that I saw this little feature in the New York Times, discussing now-retired Judge Torres's latest screenplay.

Man, I really wish I'd sat on that jury. That guy is amazing.

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