Runaway Justice or Face the Music

By Judy Berman

Few things can speed up your pulse quicker than jogging, a one-third-off sale on designer jeans, or an order to appear in court.

I, of course, got the latter.

Imagine my surprise! I was being fined $25 for failing to license my dog. Only one problem – I didn’t have a dog.

Our neighbor called to tell us that she saw a summons had just been taped to our front door. I wondered how she could tell from that distance that it was a summons. One look outside explained it all.

There, prominently displayed was a summons nearly the size of a billboard. Discreet! I ripped it off the door and slinked back inside our house.

Should I contact the best criminal lawyer in town?

Judging from a scenario in the suspense thriller, “Runaway Jury,” that doesn’t appear to be the go-to option. Gene Hackman (as Rankin Fitch) is a ruthless jury consultant who will do anything to win in a court trial involving a major gun manufacturer.

Hackman sums it up this way: “Trials are too important to be left up to juries.”

Despite the millions spent, there is a hitch, as Hackman battles Dustin Hoffman (as attorney Wendell Rohr) for the hearts and verdict of the jurors.

A juror on the inside, John Cusack (as Nicholas Easter), and a woman on the outside, Rachel Weisz (as Marlee), conspire to manipulate the outcome.

The tension in this film pales compared to my own dilemma. It appears the odds are stacked against me.

So, should I ignore the summons? I began to visualize the following scenario … (key daydream sequence gone awry).

I return to our neighborhood after a blissful afternoon of window-shopping. The block has been cordoned off. Patrol cars are lining the street in front of our home. A hail of bullets is riddling our home, and a cop is on the bullhorn shouting, “All right, scofflaw, come on out. We know you’re in there.”

I’d been the victim of a computer foul-up before. So, I debated with myself: Should I retaliate? After all, it was the principle of the thing. They’d besmirched the family name.

Briefly, I weighed the odds of challenging not only the bureaucracy, but a computer as well.

Only one question nagged at me.

Should I plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy of the court?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Video clip: “Runaway Jury” – trailer

  1. 😀 This made me chuckle, Judy. How on earth could they have got it so wrong! Of course Kate is right: a dog would make things much simpler. If a little smellier.

    1. At one time, I did have a dog. (Heidi died.) Then, our cat, Tumbleweed, was our furry companion.You’re right, Kateshrewsday. Katecrimmins’ advice is sound.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Hyperbole is my best friend.

  2. Perhaps you have a stray dog acting as a squatter in your home while you’re out…
    Hopefully, it won’t be too many phone calls and piles of paperwork to reveal the truth of your dog-free life.

    1. My kitties have tried to tell me that some doggie came into our home while we were away. Until now, I have questioned this. I believed they were only naming a scapegoat for their misdeeds. After your comment, I’m beginning to rethink this.

      Thank you for visitng my blog and commenting.

  3. Mom, I have a hard time believing that any of my furry siblings could be responsible…it could have been a rogue dog like L. Palmer suggested…yes let’s go with that. Love you!

  4. Hi Judy,

    Loved the story, specially the ‘ tongue in cheek’ colouring you have given to the tale. The aspect of challenging the omnipresent computer is so hilarious. So, when do we get th read the Part -2 of the tale?



    1. Thank you, Shakti, for your kind words. I did have great fun writing this. Computers are such an easy target. About a Part 2 … you may have to read Mark Armstrong’s eloquent pitch for the “wronged woman” defense. It’s just below.

  5. Totally outrageous!! I suspect Gene Hackman is behind it, the guy is clearly a psycho.

    Don’t do it! Don’t throw yourself on the mercy of the court!! You can fight City Hall and the Dog Pound!!

    Daydream sequence: You’re speaking eloquently in court. Jurors are dabbing at their eyes. You’re defending the Constitution and the Rights Of Man. Suddenly great orators from history materialize behind you: Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan, Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, Jimmy Stewart as Mr. Smith… The judge slams down his gavel!

    “Case dismissed! I order the City to pay Ms. Berman $2 million for wasting her valuable time, throw in a box of chocolates, and send someone over to shovel her driveway this winter!!”

    Now that’s my kinda justice… : )

    Hang tough, stay the course!!

    1. Mark, you had me at the “box of chocolates.”Hmmm … chocolates.” If I still lived up north, I’d also eagerly accept the show shoveling offer.

      I wept as I read you eloquent plea on my behalf. I love the dream sequence. Maybe, I’ll just have you go in and convince the judge that they’ve got the “wrong (wo)man.”

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