Would You Volunteer for Jury Duty?I’m one of those people who get called for jury duty over and over. I get called so much that I have been excused twice because I had served within the prior twelve months. That’s the rule here in Massachusetts. They require you to serve one day or one trial when called and they promise not to call you for another twelve months. That doesn’t explain how freakishly often my name pops up. If only my lottery numbers came out that often. Every time I get a summons I wonder if the courts have figured out I’m a law-and-order guy. I understand why they’d be glad to have me. I take jury duty seriously. I weigh the evidence, but I’m not afraid to convict someone if I believe they are guilty. Maybe there’s an asterisk next to my name. I’ll never know for sure.
You are probably shaking your head and thinking I’m making this up because I’ve written a book about a virtual jury, but guess what, I’ve got jury duty again on Wednesday, June 16th! When I tell people I’ve got jury duty, they invariably offer suggestions to get out of serving. One of my favorites is to mutter guilty under your breath when the defense attorney looks at you. I’ve never tried it, but I’m betting it would earn you a quick challenge and a trip back to the jury room. As strange as this may sound, I don’t mind serving. I actually go to court voluntarily some days to learn about the process.
I know, I know, I should get out more, but at least I’m not at the defense table.
Today I’m selecting you for my virtual jury. To answer your summons, pick up a copy of The End of Marking Time. Settle into the virtual jury box wherever you are and listen to Michael O’Connor’s story. I’ll give you two buttons (on the back cover of the book). One red. One green. Michael is desperate for you to press the green button. He believes that if you do, he’ll get another chance. While you are listening to his story, remember Michael has been a criminal since he was six years old and he’ll say about anything to be set free. He’ll tell you some horrible things about Wendell Cummings, the man who is trying to show Michael how to live on the straight and narrow.
One of the mysteries of the book is how you can serve on a jury when the action has already been written. Michael is trapped in a hallway before a one-way window and he talks to you directly about his life. He believes Wendell Cummings has brought you there and hidden you with twelve other jurors behind the glass. While you deliberate over Michael’s sentence, you can try to piece together who is seated in the room with thirteen chairs and what they will decide.
When you’ve finished the book, you can bring your jury experience online. I’ve created a Facebook group called, I pressed the (RED) (GREEN) button for you to share your results. Stop in, tell me what you think should happen to Michael, and see what other readers are saying. There is also an experiment you can try with the cover.
You might be wondering why you’d volunteer for virtual jury duty. In virtual jury duty, there are no hard benches, no dress codes, and no outdated magazines. The End of Marking Time will give you a view into America after the supreme court has released two million felons. Imagine how eager you would be to serve on a jury then.
Enjoy The End of Marking Time and please join me for the virtual launch party on June 10th.