Jury Duty - Wednesday December 9th 2015. No getting around it. I was told my aunt's funeral yesterday was no excuse from this civic responsibility. Later, I learned that my cousin's son had been told the very same thing by the non-robot who answered the phones. Cousin Mike's boy was in the jurors assembly area with your humble correspondent.
Parking at the Leighton Branch of the Cook County Criminal Courts is a pre-ordained ticket bonanza for our revenue thirsty City and County. Parking has all but disappeared in Chicago thanks to the Democrats of Cook County and City of Chicago over the last twenty years. The big parking garage just east of the California Boulevard parkways is an expensive crap shoot and an absolute nightmare when court is dismissed.
Hours earlier, I did a few e-mail services at Leo High School and then headed down up Western Avenue to my strategically planned parking spot in the Heart of Italy neighborhood located just east of Cook County Jail and the Criminal Courts Leighton Branch on California.
I turned east of Western Ave. on Blue Island and turned at Oakley. I know this neighborhood as it is one of my absolute favorite dining locales in this diminishing city. There is island of hope for frustrated motorists seeking a parking spot here. There are no Green Parking Boxes and there is always a limited number of spots. Go and seek them out.
I parked, after scouting for any signs of City Ordinance Violations indicators and found it trouble free.
I walked east on 25th street, past the South Side Outlaws Club and several massive auto repair mega-plants and scores of kids heading to school from Lawndale Gardens.
I crossed California Boulevard and walked south to the courts. It was 7:30 AM and my summons told me to report NO LATER than 9AM.
Outside of the newish Leighton Building a young Black man in a Afro-Tricolor knit hat and shivering inside a very thin leather jacket was leaning on one of thick concrete blocks intended to stop terrorists from driving a car bomb into the facility grabbing a smoke.
I decided to grab one too.
" Jury duty,?' I asked with my customary south side Irish bonhomie.
" No, sir, a beef," answered the young gent whom Alderman Leslie Hairston and Mayor Rahm Emanuel would order racist and or race -traitor cops to brace if they got within twenty feet of him.
I have some street sense developed via empirical data stored over many years of not really giving a $hit about appearances. Some of the creepiest people I have encountered sport HartMarx suits, or Lake Forest doyen get-ups. The absolute creepiest are Sixty-Somethings costumed in Retro-hippie Bolivarista get-ups and are usually academics, or CPAs from Evanston.
This young gent had the looks of a working man, a family man and, like me, a guy who screwed up.
"What's the charge? "
" DUI - I can't take this one. I live in Merrillville with my wife and two kids. I work construction and need my car.'
" Where'd you get tagged?"
" 79th Street just west of Halsted."
Right in the Pat Hickey conversational (monologue) wheelhouse.
" I work at Leo High School."
" I know it says so on your coat."
Unabashed, " What happened?"
The young man told that his wife had gone to Chicago with a couple of friends from high school and had, as many a young lady in my circle of life, taken one too many Mojitas. The two kids were staying with an Aunt and my nicotine gulping fellow had stopped at the Alaska Pipeline for a few jars with the lads.
Perfect storm. He got call from his bride to come and get her at a pub on Vincennes not far from Leo High School - he had a couple of beers in him and drove from Schereville to the Skyway and eventually west on 79th Street. He noticed a CPD patrol car behind him and the fact that he was not wearing a seat belt. He pulled on the always, it seems, tangled safety harness and swerved a bit. Blue Lights.
We walked into the Leighton Building and were told to leave until 8:30 AM. I asked the young man his name. " Leon _____."
I took Leon for coffee - he declined breakfast on me. We walked west on 26th Street, in what seemed 'forever,' along the walls of Cook County Jail and arrived in the warmth of Milagro!
We had a great jaw. I learned that Leon's family had once been a political juice load of DNA, until Daley II turned his back on Leon's grandmother. He had grown up in Englewood, attended Amos Alonzo Stagg elementary ( former site of Leo High School's legendary Shewbridge Field) and CVS High School. As many a young man will do he got into a juvenile beef and was sent to the State of Illinois Boot Camp in Rantoul and learned a better path. Since then he had no further scrapes with the law, worked in construction in Belize, the Bahamas and now in Northwest Indiana.
We walked back to Leighton and went inside, I asked if Judge Thomas Murphy was working here in the hope that maybe, Leon would get a nonpolitical black robe for his beef. No luck, Murph is in Bridgeview Division.
We queued up in the males only line. Leon was told he had to lock-up his cellp-phone. We were parting, " I send up a flock of Memorares at 9 AM."
" What's that?"
" The absolute best prayer, I know, Leon. God Be with!"
" You too. Thanks,"
No, Leon. Thank you. I went to the third floor, was selected for Panel 6, saw my cousin Mike's kid and talked about Aunt Aurelia's wake at Sheehy's on 79th Street and said a good number of prayers for Leon.
Jury duty was a breeze.