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Jurors Take A Holiday

Are you picking a jury on January 5? Be glad you won't have me on the panel.

If you're still picking jurors by demographic profile alone, you might think you want someone like me. I'm fairly educated, a lawyer, a parent, a blogger, pretty senior at my office and thus used to leading project groups — that's not the right juror for every case, but I might be a good candidate for yours.

Bread from a cold oven!

Except that during the holidays, I look nothing like that profile. Over the last few weeks, the burning issues in my life have been questions like these:

  • Will I ever find a recipe for pourable royal icing that's right for the fruitcake recipe I love? The cookbook author doesn't give one because she says you can find it in "any general cookbook." That might have been true when she wrote it, but times have changed. (Answer: I think I've got this right now. And the fruitcake really is good, I swear.)

  • Can you really bake bread in a clay pot starting from a cold oven, so the bread bakes while the oven preheats? No more trying to fill the hot oven up with steam when you put the loaf in? (Answer: you really can. I am unduly excited about this.)
  • Will the gift book I made on Blurb.com turn out all right? (Answer: It was pretty spectacular. Huge thumbs up for Blurb.com.)
  • Will my relatives get in all right? And will they get out all right? (Answer: They did, through snow and fog and storm.)
  • Where the heck did I find the recipe I used that one year when I got the sweet potatoes right? (Answer: My old copy of The Joy of Cooking, but I didn't figure this out until I had messed them up yet again.)
  • Will I really finish, for the first time, the Concept 2 indoor rowing "holiday challenge," joining three of my family members to row 200,000 indoor meters (at my slow pace that's close to 45 minutes a day) between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve? (Answer: I did!)

I kept up on client work, of course, but the rest of my lawyer/blogger life was far away. If I were in your jury box next week, I'd try to listen to you, but you'd be competing with the bread recipes in my head. Not just baking

I'm not the only one who's distracted over the holidays, in ways that may not be predictable from a "profile." This time of year is hard on relationships, for example. I'm convinced that I see more requests for referrals to divorce lawyers between Christmas and Valentine's Day than in the entire rest of the year. Jurors who need to "do something" about their elderly parents' living situation or their college student's mental health issues are thinking harder about it right now. What was just financial anxiety the rest of the year may be closer to financial panic this week — in any year, and especially this year.

If you're picking a jury in the next few weeks, try to remember that — now even more than usual — you are not the most important thing in their lives. Find non-obnoxious ways to keep their attention and to make sure your key points get through. Ask them how their holidays were, and listen to what they say.

And speaking of holidays, I hope yours have been great.

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