In the Fall of 2008 I served on a jury for a civic trial for 6 days. I was happy to take days off from work to do my duty, and participate in the pinky finger of democracy. It was right before the election. Shepard Fairey’s “HOPE” was everywhere, and the first round of Prop 8 yard signs were on display. After enduring a full morning of sitting in the holding pen at the LA Superior Court office in Downtown L.A., I was called into a room with 11 other strangers to fill the seats. The selection process began. After stating our name, age, and profession, each prospective juror had to answer the question to the tune of “How do you feel about the porn industry?”
Among us there were teachers and mothers, a William Morris agent, a retiree, a construction business owner, a programmer, a lawyer, a couple of students, and a barista (me.) Only one man spoke up to discuss that his judgment would be biased. He delved into his experience working as a cameraman in the porn industry for several years, speaking to the despicable practices of lying, cheating, and of general nefarious characters. He was booted out immediately. Here was my chance to get out. I didn’t take the Larry David route, letting loose slurs and profanity, or perhaps creating a story about my intense moral objections due to a conservative upbringing. (Not the case.)
The story: One late night in the sparkling San Bernardino Valley, between 10 or 11pm, there is a car accident. Right in front of the Starbucks, the ex-porn film actor “Jodi” is struck from behind in her parked car.
The claim? Brain damage and loss of work due to physical injury from the incident.
“Jodi” had done over 30 films in the MILF (Mother I’d Like to Fuck) category. The defendant, “Mr. Smith,” was not present for the entirety of the trial, so we got to listen to his handsome attorney. The accident evidence was submitted, including a photo of Jodi in a neck brace, and subsequently a series of bills for hospitalization, medicine, and psychiatric care.
By the time we had the pleasure of meeting her royal highness, the courtroom theatre had amped up as to appropriately and effectively receive her testimony. This woman was “unstable, irrational, ridiculous!” She is tall, busty, and has bleach blonde hair with tan, orangey skin. She’s wearing white pants and a leopard print top. It’s safe to say that she met my expectations as to what an aging, ex-porn star would look like. She speaks in quick bursts, and immediately launches into her case, her attorney failing to hold her back. Those hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills need to get paid.
There’s no telling who this woman was before her car got hit. There’s no telling how fast “Mr. Smith” was going. For the force of a multi-ton vehicle to cause severe whiplash and damage to the car in front of it, it should logically be moving at more than a pace of 10 mph. Either way, her iced latte was most likely spilled all over the dashboard, and her career was ruined at that moment. She lost her flexibility because of neck and spine injury. And flexibility is key.
So what could a defense attorney do? What ace could he have up his sleeve to make his client’s case? How about one of her films made after the date of the accident? Yes, that’s perfect. Let’s watch porn in court! I’d love to do that with complete strangers in front of a judge. It is so very sexual to me.
And so, we watched “Soccer Mom.” That’s right, Soccer Mom. All the implications of MILF came crashing to reality. From the first I’d heard of it at the tender age when American Pie came out, here was the fine story of an older, hot blonde referee trying to teach a coach a lesson. We had been warned about viewing the film the day before, so we were all mentally prepared. A projector and a 10 by 10 screen had been wheeled in for the viewing. The DVD was passed around to us jurors for inspection, and as it started, Jodi left the room, embarrassed. As we watched, the defense attorney who stood between us the jury and the projector screen, would periodically glance and then glance away, carrying on with his act, feigning disgust and propriety. It seemed in the film that Jodi had no problem with her back or neck. She carried on, “looking quite comfortable.” It had been filmed a month or so after the alleged brutal accident. So there goes that argument.
We heard the closing arguments. We turned into the deliberation room. It was the William Morris who spoke first, then the lawyer, then all around nods in agreement. It just didn’t seem damn logical for a guy hitting a parked car outside of a Starbucks to create a whiplash so severe as to cause such serious bodily harm. Mr. Smith’s car would have had to crash into the car at a much higher speed. Based on her erratic behavior and personality, there’s no way to prove that this woman didn’t need psychiatric help prior to the accident. Perhaps the years making skin flicks took their toll. So she got hit, didn’t know what the do with all the medical bills, and started fishing and fabricating. Part of me sympathized with Jodi because of her massive amounts of debt. Her histrionics were coming from a real place, and I’m sure her life has been a little difficult since the accident. She should just sue Starbucks instead, for staying open until 11pm, enabling her addiction.
So we sent Jodi home with a few thousand dollars, barely scratching the surface. The defendant’s handsome lawyer looked quite pleased once the verdict was announced. Court was adjourned and we were released. In a matter of minutes the whole experience vanished. The lawyers invited us to talk with them afterwards if we had questions, but most dispersed at the end of the escalator, and back onto the street.
A while back I saw one of my juror mates boarding a metro car. Maybe it was better to not say hello.
“Hey man, remember that one time we watched the movie about the Soccer Ref on a big screen with 10 other people in a fully lit room?”
“Yeah, I didn’t expect that either.”