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‘The Ugliest Lady in Baltimore’
Jury Selection in Harm City, 9/27/17

In a room of over a hundred jury prospects for a murder trial, the short, mister McGoo-like judge, eyes and ears failing him in his old age, was tasked with calling on people to stand and answer certain things. And, finally, those of us who had committed crimes were asked to come forward and disqualify ourselves.

The categories that could get you exempted were:

1. Have been a crime victim

2. Convicted of a crime

3. Acquitted of a crime

4. Extreme work excuse

5. Religion

6. Police sympathy

7. Police antipathy

8. Are a cop or corrections officer or are married to, or otherwise closely related to one

When a woman claimed her Christian beliefs in not judging exempted her, the judge snorted, “If every Catholic, Christian and Jew was stricken from jury duty we would never be able to seat a jury.”

The only person excused on religious grounds was the Black Muslim.

I was astounded at how much elementary school ape herding prepared us for jury selection and after we 15 were selected, jury duty.

We had 18 cops, parole officers, corrections officials or relatives in the jury pool. The detectives and tactical guys had to approach the bench. The corrections officers responded loudly from the seats—all looking like NFL offensive line rejects. This one big fellow ahead of me, an ugly man, about 6’ 2” and 35, raised his hand and the judge pointed to him, “The lady in the brown t-shirt,” and the courtroom burst into laughter with such comments bandied about above the roar as:

“Oh, da judge be blind as a mofo!”

“That the ugliest lady in Baltimore”

“Shee, dats da ugliest bitch in all a B’more!”

And, my favorite, voiced by the pretty-faced, 6 foot 7 inch, 300 pound Amazon next to me, “Oh, yo know da judge be havin’ some monsta bitchez up in hea!”

After I approached the bench and told my story of hacking up Howard with a sword and having the charges dismissed, I returned to my seat to discover that the big brother, seated in front of the Amazon to my left, had been eves dropping on me as he was taken to the restroom in the jury chambers:

G: “Say, Ma man, I heard yo story—that was some righteous shit.”

JL: “It was a long time ago.”

G: “Shee, yo was layin’ down niggas way back in da day.”

We all three turned—as if by instinct—and looked at the special task force detective behind the Amazon, who looked like the next Michael Jai White, smiled at us with raised “I don’t give a shit eye brows” and we returned our gaze on each other and I concluded.

JL: “With all due respect, he was a Caucasian negro.”

G: “That what I’m talkin’ ‘bout—getting’ fo real up in dis bitch!”

The two inch eye lashes on the god-queen of some ancient West African empire of old, batted with white daddy fetish down at me to the point where I could have—if I had so chosen—had my pelvis cracked in some ambulation-ending tryst, if only I had asked for her phone number.

I was soon selected for the jury to the applause of my two-person fan base. Three days of work ensued, in which I thought all parties, save the prosecution, an ebony queen who said during closing arguments, “You know how you do when you come out you house?” and concluded her closing remarks with, “That’s facts,” and the corrupt Homicide detective in the pink bowtie, did the best possible service to justice available to us.

I will not discuss the case in detail, as it was a knife murder, which I will cover in the second edition of The Logic of Steel. However, the closing argument of the 5’ 4” lawyer, no larger than his twerp client, hinged partially on the size of the 5’ 8” and 208 pound female victim.

As I sat next to an Amazon who stood a muscular 6’ 4” and scaled an easy 290, and sat behind two normal sized black women, the defense attorney, who could have passed Quintillian’s oratory exam, during which he wasted quotes from Dickens and Steinbeck on the uncomprehending jury, gave up the gaff with this line:

“…let us remember that Sarah was an enormous woman!”

Back in chambers the mid-sized lady of color said, “I almost had to say something when that lawyer called that white girl enormous, when two-hundred en eight is barely normal—not even well-fed!

The giantess next to me quipped, “That little man don’t even wanna find out what big is, when someone enorminate his ass!”

In short, citing my admissions to the judge, I horrified my fellow jurors with a reconstruction of the stabbing based on the evidence which the coroner, detective and both attorneys were, none of them, able to arrange into a single coherent picture of death, managed to satisfy the various questions, so that the other white man, a smart young fellow who regarded me with horror, was able to quickly lead the jury to a second degree murder conviction [for he could not premeditate a sandwich] of a severely retarded, 60-year-old man, for the killing of the 40-year-old drunk gal who was using him for booze money and kicking him out every night.

The situation was sad all the way around:

A woman whose family was slaughtered in a tragic accident drinking herself to death at the expense of a retard who had not missed a day of work demoing houses since age 23, and had no prior record, did not drink or use drugs, who should have been ruled incompetent to stand trial and is now going into the general population of a predatory prison system after being lied to and about by the two most reprehensible police detectives I have seen.

Yes, Billy did it, but not the way the cops said he did, after yelling at him for five hours until he said what they wanted him to say. [We had to sit through the entire interrogation video and every juror was disgusted with the detectives’ behavior.] This guy was so retarded that they did not graduate him from a school for the severely retarded until age 22 and both detectives and lawyers were able to get him to agree with whatever narrative they led him through, except that the defense lawyer could not get him to say anything negative about the victim, even to save his case. He spoke of the victim in the present tense and assured us that they both loved each other, in that hollow tone of the uncomprehending.

All the jurors, young and old, black, white, Middle Eastern and Latina, Christian, atheist and heathen, were all merely the confirming witnesses to a tragedy concerning two lonely people who did not have a single supporting person in court to witness the verdict.

Finally, as one of the black women bemoaned the fact that this tiny, old white man was going to be thrown to the wolves in the Maryland Corrections System and the others agreed with a murmured groan, I said the only thing I could to comfort them:

“At this point, his only other option would be living on the streets, if he got acquitted, and he wouldn’t make it through the first winter.”

I thought the system worked as well as something devised by man can, despite the incompetence of the prosecution and the detectives. Comedy, absurdity and tragedy—may I not be selected to condemn my fellow man again.


The form we had to fill out in chambers asked us four questions:

1. Murder in the first degree. If yes go to 4, if no go to 2.

2. Murder in the second degree. If yes go to 4, if no go to 3.

3. Involuntary manslaughter. If yes go to 4.

4. Violation of the Maryland statute on carrying a knife or other prohibited weapon with malicious intent.

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Jeremy BenthamOctober 4, 2017 12:37 PM UTC

“Lawyers are the only persons in whom ignorance of the law is not punished.” - Jeremy Bentham, English Philosopher (1748-1832)