The mailbox held a bunch of junk and one envelope with a portentous return address: "Circuit Court of the Second Circuit - The Judiciary, State of Hawaii." It took no imagination to guess the contents.
At the kitchen table, slice open the envelope. Yup. At the top of the first page was "Summons for Jury Service." Name, address, a bar code, "Participant Number" and a "Pool Number." Below that: "Failure to appear as summoned may result in the issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest and may be grounds for contempt proceedings under Section 710-1077(1)(i) of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes."
Once upon a time, such a summons would have evoked a mild feeling of dread. It meant missing at least one day of work, probably more. At The Maui News, work didn't stop just because someone was missing. The work was just added to someone else's load or taken care of outside of ordinary hours.
Ah, but not for those of us out to pasture. Who knows, it might be something of an adventure. There was always a chance the trial might be rife with personal drama and getting to know the other jurors might lead to something delightful.
Twice before, there had been a summons to duty. The first involved a criminal case. After sitting around in the hallway, prospective jurors, including a young woman of casual acquaintance, were ushered into the courtroom. It would have been great to serve on a jury that included Kat Hargis, a very attractive - in every sense of the word - sales representative for a west side radio station.
The memory of sitting next to her is vivid some decades later. Flowing auburn hair above wide-set, animated green eyes, high cheek bones, and a trim figure only slightly disguised on that day by a red, "I'm a serious businesswoman" jacket and skirt.
The prosecutor asked a couple of questions. Was I familiar with the defendant, the case or any police officers? Nope. The defense attorney asked if I could understand how a person might get caught up in situation involving drugs. Yes. The defense attorney smiled and sat down. At the same time, the prosecutor rose and had me kicked off the jury. See you later, Kat.
The second time was a civil case involving a personal injury at Kapalua Resort built by the Cameron family's Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Judge Joel August presiding. Walking over to the jury box, smile at Joel, a friend from back in the days when he was a public defender. It's a small island.
As soon as the prospective jurors sat down, Judge August said, "Would Mr. Youngblood approach the bench?" Not exactly standard procedure. Four attorneys joined the march. There was an air of expectant excitement. August smiled and asked the legal beagles if they had any questions. The answers left both sides satisfied. But not the judge.
"I believe Mr. Youngblood may have a personal interest in this case," His Honor said. What? "Isn't it true, you have been associated with a member of the Cameron family for some time?" he asked. Oh, boy, he's been listening to the Coconut Telegraph. It's a small island.
"Yes, sir." Oh, well, it's no secret my huapala was a member of the Cameron family, the sister, in fact, of the man who built Kapalua. The Camerons had little or nothing to do with the resort or Maui Land & Pine by that time, but Judge August wasn't taking any chances.
"I'm going to excuse Mr. Youngblood," Judge August said.
The summons for the latest chance to serve on a jury came last month. There was a Monday, 9 a.m. show-up. Plans were made to get to Wailuku no later than 8:30 a.m. and park in the municipal lot. The time before, The Dancer had been tucked into a cross-hatched section of on-street parking. Nice try. A parking ticket was stuck under the "Jury Duty Parking Permit" taped to the tank of the motorcycle. The fine was nearly the same as the $30 paid by the state to show up.
Part of the "required" routine is to call the court "after 5 p.m. on the prior business day" to see if the trial is still on. Punch in the nine-digit participant number. Find out the trial is now set for a half-hour and a day later. Make another call 24 hours later. "The trial has been settled."
Oh, well, there'll be another time. It's a small island.
* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.