Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

31 Jul 2008, 22:12 p.m.

Further Reports

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

My jury seems to have settled into watching Adam Sandler movies while waiting for Assistant District Attorneys to show up and occupy our time. Better Sandler movies, which merely confirm existing prejudices, than vigilante/rogue cop movies. We've gone from Anger Management (wincertainment, in case The Office is too highbrow for you) to I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (why are Buscemi and Akroyd in this again?) to Reign Over Me (Cheadle pulling Sandler into respectable territory). I've threatened to bring in Punch-Drunk Love, which Roger Ebert called the key to all Sandler films.

Also watched: Charlie Wilson's War, aforementioned crime/cop stuff, and Hitch. One ADA immediately won my good graces by coming in, recognizing the freeze-frame of Hitch, and imitating a signature dance ("This is where you live").

Some ADAs are smoother than others. Some interview witnesses and have the knack of hinting and leading them along the right track. Others let jargon get in the way of asking questions in a way non-attorneys can understand. ADAs get into the habit of saying, "What, if anything, did you observe?" or "Would [piece of evidence] refresh your recollection?" We've heard those so often that they take on the flavor of religious ritual and infect our speech. "What, if anything, did you have for lunch?"

Grand juries have to watch out for fishing expeditions, vendettas, and mistakes.

Interpersonal stuff is still dicey, and I am really glad my jury does not run on a reputation economy or I'd starve. But I haven't been burned as a witch or anything. The earplugs and earmuffs help. When we're not on a case, I can listen to my ears ringing and read my Neal Stephenson.