Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jury Duty Jury Duty Jury Duty!!! (And Vegan Greek Salad with Lemon Oregano Dressing)

That has been my life over the past week and a half.  And seriously is has not been fun.  I had to be in court Monday thru Friday, plus these last two days as well.  The schedule is from 9:30 am-4:30 pm, but it really isn't as bad as it seems in regards to time.  We were given an hour lunch break from 1-2 pm, which I have not had since I was working in Michigan, which was nice, because it's the first time I've been able to decently chew my food during lunch in about five years!  The worst thing was all the waiting.  And the waiting and the waiting .......

Being in the physical courtroom only occurred a couple hours out of the day, but sometimes it was the most boring and/or uncomfortable thing in the world.  Several of the jurors fell asleep, which I almost did yesterday.  When I first got the notice in the mail, I was horrified and angry to say the least.  This was several months ago and my schedule was beyond crazy, so I postponed it.  On the exact date I said would be ok to send me another notice, I received my notice.  So, I went to the Supreme Court in Brooklyn, and saw hundreds and hundreds of people in the main room and felt pretty confident that I would be sent home soon.  Then, the announcer came to the podium and told everyone that Brooklyn Court was one of the busiest courts and everyone possible would be needed.  I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Several different groups of people were allowed to be excused: those ill with doctor's notes, unemployed mothers with children under 7 that happened to have their child's birth certificate with them, and people who could not speak English.  There were several people I overheard saying in clearly spoken English that they would go and fake it.  And inevitably, they came back scowling, arms crossed over their chests.  It was quite funny.  Because prior to them leaving with the group to be tested, I remembered several of my friends' suggestions to get out of jury duty: claim you are racist or against whatever type of person the case is against, tell them you don't want to play god, tell them you couldn't be held responsible for sending someone to jail.  And honestly, I was thinking about the chances of any of these excuses working, even though I clearly did not agree with the statements my friends told me to make.  I just wanted out of it.  But even then, I was hesitant.

So, they called my name, and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of waiting later, I was chosen as an alternate juror.  When I asked what that was (I had absolutely no idea!) one of the attorneys told me that in the event of one of the main jurors calling out, I would replace them.  Ok.  He did not, however, tell me to come in the following Monday, or at least did not verbalize it clearly.  So, in my way of thinking, I would be called at home if I was needed as the juror.  So when Monday rolled around, I stayed at home and received a call from the court at about 10 am. I was horrified when I was told I had to come in immediately!  Frazzled, I ran around the house, getting dressed, brushing my teeth while putting on my shoes, etc!  I took a cab, which I thought was a great idea, but ended up taking me 25 minutes, and costing me $15.  The train by the way, took 15 minutes and only cost $2.50!  Boo!!!

So I got there late and looked like a moron.  Everyone else was up to speed, and I showed up with a red face, out of breath and feeling completely frazzled!  (One good thing that ended up happening, was that two of the jurors were vegan  - not sure how that's even possible!  And on three of the days, I brought in breakfast-y treats for everyone, and got some great feedback from non-vegans, which is very important!) So the day went on and we learned what our roles were.  I got it, but I didn't really think about the end result of me being an alternate juror vs. a true juror.  The case was about malpractice being brought about in a gynecology & obstetric case where a woman was given a hysterectomy at a young age to stop excessive bleeding she was having after a post Cesarean delivery hemorrhage.  It was quite graphic and disgusting at times and made me really happy about my future choice in a birth plan.  Absolutely no hospital and with a midwife at home.   I feel positively sure about that more now than ever!  We were given so much technical information, which was exhausting.  With the addition of the different methods of questioning by the plaintiff and defense's lawyers, it was even more exhausting and sometimes just completely ridiculous. 

As the trial went on, I felt better about the entire situation, even though I did have to put my life on hold completely and came home everyday in a weird mood towards my husband.  I needed at least 30-45 minutes to chill out as soon as I got home so I could process everything.  I can't stop saying how it was exhausting - that's the only way I can describe it.  So yesterday rolls around and it is the day when the judge is supposed to tell us the law and we are supposed to deliberate and come up with a verdict.  I assumed my vote would not count since I was an alternate, but I didn't really think beyond that.  When we were brought back to the deliberation room, the alternate jurors were told to take all of their belongings and were led to a separate room than the jurors.  We were told we had to wait until a verdict was reached.  So for almost four hours we were sitting twiddling our thumbs, coming up with our own verdict amongst ourselves.  I was really surprised by how upset I was at not even being able to give my thoughts on the verdict to the other jurors or even hear their thought process.  When it was 4:30, we were told a verdict was not reached and we would have to come in again tomorrow, to sit in the room by ourselves while the jury determined the verdict.  Unfortunately, I had a doctor's appointment this morning (seriously true, and I have had it for a couple weeks), so I couldn't come in.  Once of the jurors told me she would text me the result the next day when it was all over.  I felt like I was really missing out!  But the verdict just came in, and I feel very relieved and happy about how it ended up turning out.

So, absolutely needless to say, food did not cross my mind in the least when I was at home - what a crazy week!  However, I do have a hungry Hubby at home, so I needed to do something about it.  Most of the time, I prepared something that was at least partially pre-made, or frozen, which I don't usually do, but I felt the need to for this period of time.  I was just emotionally exhausted!  So, most of the evenings I would also make a gigantic salad, which is what I would eat for dinner, and also take for lunch the following day.  And silly to say, it was the same kind of salad everyday - a veggie laden Greek Salad.  It hit the spot, and I'm actually thinking about making it as soon as I'm done here.  So, my thoughts on jury duty have changed, and if you haven't had the opportunity of doing it yet, I think you will ultimately feel the same, even though it does take a huge chunk out of your life.  So, enough about that, and onto the food:

Vegan Greek Green Salad:

So tasty!

Yields: 2 very large salads

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped, washed and spun dry
1/4 green pepper, chopped
1/3 cucumber, quartered and sliced
1/2 small red onion, cut in half and sliced
1 small tomato (not overly ripe), quartered and sliced
1/3-1/2 cup vegan feta, homemade or store-bought, crumbled
5-10 green olives, sliced
pickled jalapeno pepper slices on top, optional (if you're brave!)

Lemon Oregano Dressing:
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons agave
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
fresh black pepper and sea salt to taste

1.  Prepare the dressing first:  place all ingredients in a glass jar and shake until completely  mixed and emulsified.  Place in the fridge to chill while making the salad.
2.  Place the lettuce in a large bowl.  Begin placing the veggie topping on top of the lettuce.  The order doesn't really matter, just start layering everything on top.  Place the peppers, cucumber, onion, tomato, feta, olives and optional jalapeno slices. 
3.  Place a generous serving of the salad on your plate and top with the dressing.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy with crackers if desired.


- Koko

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