I, Not the Jury

Jeffrey Cohen
4 min readNov 29, 2021

I narrowly missed serving on a jury about a gangland-style assassination that happened in a nightclub bathroom. For whatever reason, the lawyers discharged me, for which I am eternally grateful.

Every few years, I get a summons for jury duty. Every time, I dutifully make my way to the courthouse. Except for one experience, I’ve been dismissed in one day. This was the lone occasion where, by the lunch break, I panicked about what to say that could get me sent home or back into the jury pool.

The first inkling that everything was not as it seemed was the defendant, who appeared to be a nice young Black man, dressed in a button-down suit with his hair professionally braided. But upon closer inspection, you could see tattoos covering his hands and snaking up the back (and front) of his neck. For that reason, he never removed his jacket or unbuttoned his white shirt.

I was in the initial group selected to randomly sit in the jury box, eighth out of 12, in the second row. We filed into our seats and were addressed by the judge, followed by the prosecuting and defense attorneys.

A couple of buzzwords in their introductions to the case stuck out like sore thumbs, including “gang activity” and “autopsy photos.” There was a murmur in the courtroom and the judge admonished everyone to be quiet and listen closely.

From what I ascertained, there had been a confrontation in a bar in downtown Flushing, New York around 3 AM on a Sunday morning. The defendant followed an unnamed person into the bathroom and asked a friend to “watch the door.” Before the defendant could leave the facilities, the sound of gunfire attracted witnesses, who pushed into the rest room and found the (alleged) murder victim dying on the floor.

The prosecuting attorney informed us that, with the advent of CSI as the country’s number one drama, perhaps we were familiar with forensics pathology. He seemed to be preparing us for the macabre treat of witnessing crime scene evidence.

The judge granted a lunch recess. When we returned, one person had already approached the bailiff and been dismissed, for reasons unknown. I had run into potential juror nine in the bathroom and confided that I planned to use autopsy photos as my exit strategy.

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Jeffrey Cohen

Longtime writer and crank. Articles come from more than 30 years in journalism and corporate communications. Follow my podcast at MrJeff2000.podbean.com.