WASHINGTON—Recently appointed justice Sonia Sotomayor told reporters that, despite making dozens of excuses, she was selected for jury duty this week, causing her to miss a landmark Supreme Court case addressing campaign finance reform.
"I probably threw away four of those letters before I got one that said I had to appear or 'face serious penalties,' whatever that means," said Sotomayor, who was forced to appear at a nearby municipal courthouse Monday. "I just got a new job, for Christ's sake. I can't afford to be sitting in some dingy courtroom all day. God, what a waste of time."
"The guy is totally guilty, by the way," Sotomayor continued. "You can tell just by looking at him."
Sotomayor speculated that a recent trip to the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles to renew her driver's license was the reason her name was put in the jury pool. Though she reportedly tried a number of tactics to prove that she was unfit to serve—including inventing an infirm grandmother, claiming she had "psychological problems," and even citing some of the more inflammatory allegations leveled against her during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings—the prosecution and defense still agreed upon Sotomayor as a juror.
"I wore my tattered old Dead Kennedys T-shirt, and I told the judge I didn't really think I could be fair and impartial if the defendant was white," said Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent. "When that didn't work, I said I had sciatica and couldn't sit in one place for long periods of time. But then they said they'd make the necessary accommodations, and now we have a mandatory recess every two hours and all of the other jurors hate me."
"This all just goes to show what a huge joke the justice system is," Sotamayor added.
The high court's first Hispanic justice also complained about having to sit through an "unbelievably stupid" instructional video on the importance of jurisprudence, and that the $80 daily stipend was not nearly enough to cover living expenses. Sotomayor refused, however, to comment on her failed bid to be elected jury foreman, a position that instead went to an unemployed locksmith.
"It's so boring," Sotomayor said. "I'm totally daydreaming most of the time. Honestly, I don't know how anyone could possibly pay attention to all that testimony and evidence and legal mumbo jumbo all day long."
This is not the first time jury duty obligations have kept a Supreme Court justice from his or her post. Most notably, Clarence Thomas was forced to serve on a malpractice case in early 2002, but a mistrial was declared after the 61-year-old refused to participate in deliberation, claiming that he'd rather not vote one way or another.
Other justices who have proven themselves more adept at getting out of jury duty reportedly offered their advice to Sotomayor before her scheduled appearance in court.
"Sonia should have told the judge that she would take a strict constructionist interpretation of the law and make her decision accordingly," Justice Antonin Scalia said. "That gets me dismissed every time."
Although irritated by her situation, Sotomayor said she has resigned herself to serving as a juror, and just hopes the trial will be adjourned as quickly as possible so she can return to work.
Said Sotomayor, "I just pray to God this thing doesn't make it all the way to the Supreme Court."