Jury Duty

I was called for jury duty the first week of July. I was displeased, but instead of complaining - OK, along with complaining - I saw the people-watching opportunity for what it was. I grabbed a sketchbook and some pencils and arrived at the Supreme Court in Downtown Brooklyn promptly at 8 AM. An hour later, people were still trickling in, and nothing was happening.

This guy had the snazziest suspenders / haircut / color combo going on.

This guy had the snazziest suspenders / haircut / color combo going on.

Essentially, it was hours upon hours of waiting in "central jury" before being shown a cheesy informational film about how AWESOME and FUN jury duty really is. Most people had something to read or were on their phones and tablets, which made secretively drawing them a breeze. When people notice you drawing them they generally either a) get really uncomfortable and glare at you or b) act like they don't notice and start posing. 

Next we were ushered into the courtroom for a few more hours of waiting. Except this time, there were no books, beverages (i.e coffee) or recording devices allowed, and all cell phones/tablets had to be shut off. This is when the juror's body language (boredom and fatigue) started to get really good. I wish I had drawn more during this part, but wasn't sure if my pencil counted as a recording device. The police assigned to courtroom security were NOT the friendliest, and I was pretty intimidated...

The guy above gave zero f**ks. He would nap for a while, pop his head up briefly, look around, then resume napping. He also was an amazing shape and a lot of fun to draw.

Some guys sneaking onto their cell phones in the court room before the judge returned from lunch (30 minutes late).

Some guys sneaking onto their cell phones in the court room before the judge returned from lunch (30 minutes late).

I think the body language of the guy below pretty much sums up the entire jury duty experience:

The Duffield Street Houses

This past March I learned about the case of the Duffield Street homes in downtown Brooklyn and was compelled to honor their history with a drawing before they are eradicated by the city. The whole row of historic wood-frame houses on Duffield Street are believed to have played an integral part in the Underground Railroad, and many of them have already been demolished. 

227duffieldst

Previous owners of 227 Duffield Street, Harriet and Thomas Truesdell, were known abolitionists who worked with the likes of William Lloyd Garrison and Henry Ward Beecher. There is a sealed off tunnel in the basement of 227 Duffield Street which is believed to be a part of the Underground Railroad. Regardless of a plethora of evidence indicating that 227 Duffield Street and the surrounding homes were an integral part of the Underground Railroad, the city denies that the buildings should be landmarked and the Economic Development Plan (EDC) plans to use eminent domain to knock them down and build a park, two luxury hotels and an underground parking garage - just what we need. The fight to save the Duffield Street homes is still ongoing, and you can learn more about it here.