O'Malley Reports for Duty, But as Juror, Not Governor
By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 28, 2006; B01
Juror No. 368 arrived at a Baltimore courthouse early yesterday morning
with two paperbacks to read and one member of his Executive Protection
Unit in tow.
With 51 days until he is sworn in as governor, it perhaps wasn't the
ideal way for Mayor Martin O'Malley to kill a day. But duty called --
jury duty, that is.
As did several hundred others called to serve yesterday, O'Malley spent
much of his day confined to the drab juror assembly room of the
Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse, whittling away the hours between
excursions to courtrooms as movies -- "Monster-in-Law" and later
"Akeelah and the Bee" -- played on multiple television screens.
By the end of the day, O'Malley had been passed over for two Circuit
Court panels. But the possibility of serving kept him confined, aside
from a lunch break, from shortly after 8 a.m. until he was dismissed at
4:40 p.m. on a day when aides were searching for Cabinet secretaries
and talking about his agenda for his first legislative session.
"I think I'm a very fair and reasonable person," O'Malley told a
television reporter who greeted him on the way to his first of two
rounds of jury selection. "I think I'd make a good juror."
The small media contingent that tagged along was hardly the only sign
of the governor-elect's celebrity.
O'Malley, who spent a good share of the day banging out messages on his
BlackBerry, encountered many well-wishers among fellow jurors as well
as lawyers in the halls, who congratulated him on his recent victory
over Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).
One juror identified herself as a Baltimore schoolteacher and said she
grew tired during the campaign of Ehrlich's bashing of the city's
schools. Another juror requested the installation of a speed bump near
her Baltimore home. O'Malley referred her to the city's Transportation
It was not O'Malley's first summons to jury duty as an elected
official. In 2002, he was a jury foreman in a case involving a flutist
who complained of being squeezed in a bus door
O'Malley, who declined his $15 in compensation yesterday, said he also
recalled sitting on another case while mayor.
He sat mum in both rounds of jury selection when a judge asked if
potential jurors had "a compelling reason" they could not serve.
Others offered excuses: a grandfather's funeral, college classes to
teach and bills that would be hard to pay if additional work was missed.
O'Malley's first opportunity to join a jury came at 11 a.m. as Judge
Wanda K. Heard sought to empanel six jurors and two alternates to hear
a civil case stemming from a February 2005 auto accident.
Greeted by another juror's exclamation of "well, well, well," O'Malley
took a seat in the middle of the first of five pea-green pews.
The case, Heard told jurors, would probably take two to three days to
The immediate task was to whittle down a pool of 35 jurors, and
O'Malley stood in response to a couple of questions from the judge,
including one about whether any prospective juror employed any of the
likely witnesses -- including a Baltimore police officer.
"I head a municipal corporation that pays city police officers every
two weeks," O'Malley volunteered to some laughter.
Ninety minutes later, it became clear O'Malley had been struck from the
jury pool, but it was not disclosed why. About 3:30 p.m., he was
steered to the chambers of Judge Kaye A. Allison, where he seemed quite
taken by a large mural depicting George Washington's arrival in
Annapolis in 1783. Once again, he was spared service.
In between, O'Malley was granted a 90-minute lunch break, which he used
to meet with Michael Jacobson, the author of a book about prison
The book, "Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass
Incarceration," was one of two tucked under O'Malley's arm. The other:
"In An Uncertain World: Tough Choices From Wall Street to Washington,"
by Robert E. Rubin, Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company