Monday, January 25, 2010

Wouldn’t it be strange if a trial got caught in a hung jury because Obama held out?

I’m bracing my ears and my mind for the onslaught of rhetoric that will be tossed about by the conservative pundits who are always eager to trash President Barack Obama on the grounds that he thinks he’s above the rest of us.

The issue that potentially gives them factual material to distort? Jury duty.

I’M GIVING THE Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Mike Sneed the benefit of the doubt that she accurately reported in the Sunday newspaper (which I still enjoy reading) that Obama received a summons for jury duty.

According to the Sun-Times, Obama is expected to be at the Cook County courthouse in southwest suburban Bridgeview on Monday. Of course, that is not a guarantee he would serve on a trial. I remember the one time in my life I did jury duty, I spent the entire day at the Criminal Courts building, not learning until about 8 p.m. that my presence on a jury was not needed.

For what it’s worth, the newspaper reported that the summons was sent to the Obama residence on the edge of the Hyde Park neighborhood – the house where they haven’t really lived in just over a year. One has to admit, it’s not every day that a jury summons winds up having to be forwarded to the White House.

Now I don’t expect Obama to be at the Bridgeview courthouse on Monday, and White House officials on Sunday admitted he had asked for a waiver from duty. People who happen to be eating at the International House of Pancakes restaurant just a block or so away will not see the president stop by for a quick cup of coffee before proceeding to the courthouse.

I’LL GO SO far as to say what would offend me would be if Obama were to somehow try to fulfill the summons – which by its very existence shows that legally, Obama is still a Chicago resident. If he had truly transferred his address to the White House, it would be the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia that would be seeking his presence for jury duty.

I do expect that this particular president has more important things to do than to be sitting around a courthouse with a paperback copy of that novel he has been wishing he had time to read, but never was able to do until now. (That literally was how I spent my day of jury duty). Or maybe he’d have a copy of a health care proposal to try to amend into something (anything) that could get passed into law.

So I expect (although I don’t know for sure) that Obama already has had his staff file the legal request for him to get him out of having to be in Bridgeview. Not that Bridgeview isn’t a cute little suburb, but he has more pressing issues to deal with.

Although it would be a hoot if the Cook County sheriff were to have to show up at the White House some day to take Obama into custody for skipping out on jury duty. Then again, Rod Blagojevich’s arrest in late ‘08 on paper was hilarious – the reality was more pathetic than funny.

PERSONALLY, I THINK everything I have written thus far is pure common sense. You don’t try to drag a chief executive of the United States into a courtroom to serve on a jury. It throws the whole jury dynamic out of whack and also causes serious disruption to the nation.

Yet I seriously expect to hear from pundits who will complain that Obama is somehow being elitist by thinking he ought to automatically get out of jury duty. After all, they want to criticize him. It doesn’t matter what for. They just want criticism, no matter how illogical it is.

There’s just one thing I’d have to wonder of the people who are likely to try to use this jury duty incident as an issue – what did they have to say when Obama made that trip to Copenhagen to try to talk up the U.S.A. and his hometown of Chicago as a site for the 2016 summer Olympic games.

I still remember all the people who got all bent out of shape and claimed that making such a trip was a distraction for Obama from his presidential duties. Having to sit through a whole day of jury duty only to be rejected because some prosecutor doesn’t want anyone detracting attention from his arguments against the defendant seems like an incredible waste of time.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Does this mean that Barack Obama is still a Chicagoan at heart, if he’s getting jury duty summonses (,CST-NWS-SNEED24A.article) from Cook County. What I’d like to know ( is if he has mailed in his absentee ballot yet for the Feb. 2 primary elections.

What would happen if Obama did jury duty, got picked and had to remain in Bridgeview on Wednesday ( – the scheduled date for the State of the State address.

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