My work as a trial consultant has taken me to many places. When people ask me where I have worked, I always say, “I’ve worked almost everywhere from Alaska to the Virgin Islands.” When it comes to traveling for work, I’ve been there and done that. This being said, my home state of Florida has some of the wackiest mock jurors in these United States! And, where else but Key West has the wackiest among the wackiest! I write a script (we call it a screener) for our mock jury recruiter to use when calling people to invite them to participate in one of our mock juries. The questions are standard issue questions that allow our recruiter to obtain a representative sample of citizens in the place where we are working (in attorneys’ lingo, the trial venue). However, when we are working in Monroe County, Florida, with Key West as its county seat, we have to include two important sentences in our recruiting screener: “PLEASE be sure to wear shoes. You will not be allowed to participate without shoes (flip flops are acceptable).” This is no joke! And I learned the hard way that, when working anywhere in the Florida Keys, we cannot assume the mock jurors will report for duty while properly shod. My research assistant and I spent one memorable day, many years ago, working in Key West with several mock jurors who arrived wearing no shoes, sandals, socks, or other foot coverings. It was quite an experience and one which, needless to say, made an unfavorable impression on our client. I asked these shoeless mock jurors if, just by chance, they happened to have any shoes, flip flops, etc. in their car that they could obtain, then wear, for the duration of our research. (Keep in mind that we were working in an upscale hotel with a “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policy.) Can the reader guess their answer? Their answers were similar: “Dude, I walked here after going to the beach”; “I rode my bike, man, and I never wear shoes while riding my bike”; “Sorry, but I got rid of all my shoes when I moved to Key West”; etc. (Yes, I am sometimes called, “Dude,” “man,” and “buddy” even though I am a woman!) This experience may seem funny now, years after it happened, but it was bordering on crazy when it happened. Oh, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen!
I missed this one when it happened, and it wasn’t because I was in Key West at the beach! But, it is apropos of the Keys to have barefoot mock jurors. I don’t know if it is still the case, but lawyers regularly handled matters in court in Key West in short sleeves and with an open collar. Ties are just too hot! We’ve heard these stories from lots of “old time” “Miama” (pronounced this way by the old timers from Miami) lawyers. So, no shoes, what’s the big deal, except to some heartless corporate hotel from out of state? No shirts, no shoes… The good news is that, especially for those who drove to the research facility/hotel, they probably have a pair of flip flops in the car. Everyone in Florida knows to keep some flip flops handy in case the pavement is just too hot to go barefoot. Perhaps you’ve seen the dance – barefoot on hot asphalt. It can make people break out into a run. So, along the way, we put a note in our records, when recruiting in the Keys, remind the mock jurors to wear shoes. Of course, it’s a different story if someone has a footwear emergency along the lines of the one suffered by Jimmy Buffet (who famously, blew out his flip flop but can now afford to buy gold ones if he wants! And, so it goes.