Melissa recently initiated a series of blog posts about Crazy Juror stories. In writing these posts, I was reminded of another crazy juror story, which wasn’t really that crazy, but it is now in our company folklore and we continue to chuckle about it. A number of years ago, we were working on a large legal malpractice case in Detroit. Millions of dollars were at stake and the mock jury research we designed involved 4 groups of mock jurors who participated over 2 days. The mock jurors were instructed to report to specific meeting rooms on the morning of day 2 for deliberations. This was a unique hotel and the meeting rooms were located on different floors from each other. Early on day 2, our research associates went to the individual rooms to finalize their set up, most of which they had completed the evening before. One of our research associates was a young man named Rob. As is our practice on projects of this sort, I am up early also, and I go from room to room to supervise and ensure that the set up is going smoothly. When I got to Rob’s room, he was flustered. His face was flushed, he could hardly speak, and he was behind schedule on his set up. I also noticed that there was an early bird juror already in the room – about 1½ hours prior to “show time.” I asked Rob what was wrong and he pointed to the hall. Realizing he wanted to get out of the room to talk, we quickly moved to the hall. It turned out that, when he showed up and entered the room about 7:00 a.m., he entered a dark room. When he turned on the lights, he discovered the juror I had seen, a rather full figured young woman, napping on the floor with her pants off. She worked a late shift at a factory as a security guard. When she got off work at 5 or 6 a.m., she drove to the hotel and talked the security officer into opening the door to the room she knew she was supposed to be in at 9:00 a.m. so that she could sleep a bit and not be late. (She evidently removed her pants to sleep more comfortably.) She was missing her pants but she wasn’t late! Rob recovered, the show went on and the story lives on forever.
The expression, “caught with your pants down” has, for many years, had a literal interpretation for those of us at Magnus. (The Detroit experience was memorable for several other reasons, including hearing one of my employees inform our client that she wished she were a princess living in a castle, but that has been covered in a prior post.) Poor Rob; turning on the lights in his deliberations room, only to find a sans a pants mock juror, was not the way he planned to begin his work day! However, from the mock juror’s perspective, she had no time to go home between the end of her midnight shift at a factory and the start of the mock trial; she did not want to arrive late for the mock trial; she was sleepy; and it is uncomfortable to sleep in heavy pants. So, she did the best thing she could under the circumstances. She removed her winter coat (it was 20 degrees and snowing outside), placed it on the floor to use as bedding, removed her pants, and napped until her rude awakening when Rob turned on the bright lights in the conference room. I sure would have liked to have been there to see who was more surprised and embarrassed, Rob or the mock juror! According to Rob, it took what seemed like an eternity for the woman to wake up and struggle to put on her pants, all the while being stared at by Rob, who was in a state of shock. In the end, with her pants returned to their proper place on her body, the woman was a great mock juror and a nice person. For Rob, it was more than he bargained for but for me, things like this are all in a day’s work as a social psychologist!