Mayo: Don't bash Marino for jury duty mixup

Sun Sentinel

Unlike countless others who get called for jury duty, at least Dan Marino showed up.

So even though he might have gotten some help from an out-of-bounds judge, I'm not going to bash Marino for a mixup that ended his service before he made it to his assigned courtroom.

In football referee terms, here's my call on the situation:

--I throw a flag on County Judge Ed Merrigan for interference, because he mistakenly thought Marino had been dismissed from a case and then walked Marino back to the jury assembly room and personally signed a dismissal card. That doesn't happen for everyone.

--I throw a flag on courthouse and BSO administrators for illegal procedure, not because deputies were assigned to escort the Hall of Fame quarterback, but because they apparently took him to a special elevator for judges and separated him from other jurors who had been summoned to Broward Circuit Judge Matt Destry's courtroom.

--And for all those beating up on Marino as being some prima dona celebrity with a sense of entitlement, I throw a flag for roughing the passer.

Let's look at the facts here: Marino apparently showed up bright and early, at 7:45 a.m., for his jury service. And he apparently didn't get dismissed until 1:30 p.m. So it's not like he totally ducked out.

Jury duty usually entails one day or one trial. If you don't get picked for a panel, you're supposed to return to the assembly room. But if it's already past lunchtime, it's not unusual to be dismissed for the day.

The big questions in Marino's case: Why was he taken to the judges' elevator, and why did Merrigan get the impression that Marino had already been dismissed from his case?

But in the scheme of things, this is not something to get too worked up about. In all likelihood, Marino wouldn't have been picked to serve. My guess is lawyers would find him too big a distraction or might too easily sway starstruck/fawning jurors with his opinion. That said, celebrities and other high-profile people (including lawyers and politicians) have served on juries.

For those of you who've never done jury duty in Broward, the day starts by waiting with hundreds of others in the third flood jury assembly room. You wait until your lucky number is called, and you get assigned to a judge's courtroom. Jury groups are then escorted en masse to that courtroom by bailiffs/deputies, sometimes having to break apart when they're too big to fit in one elevator.

When you're taken inside the courtroom, you get subjected to intensive questioning by attorneys (the voir dire process). Some jurors are picked for a case, and others are dismissed and sent back to the jury assembly room. Depending on the time of day, you either wait some more for another possible case or you're allowed to go.

Next time, I hope Marino gets to complete his route.

Happy weekend.

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