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Pity poor New York Giants CEO John Mara: he reportedly was selected as an alternate for federal jury duty, despite attempting to excuse himself on the basis of being busy with the upcoming NFL draft and his role as a lead negotiator in the league's ongoing labor-management dispute.
"For now, I am going to leave you on, but keep us informed if problems arise," U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff told Mara, adding that he would reconsider in the case of "a real emergency."
Here's the thing about jury duty: it's noble, just and downright patriotic to serve. Oh, and just as American to try to weasel out of having to show up. Indeed, Mara's misstep wasn't in trying to escape the jury pool; it was in trying to do so with such a reasonable, honest and utterly artless excuse. A busy, can't-miss month at work? Welcome to the do-more-with-less post-Recession party!
Similarly, the key to bailing on jury duty isn't to lie outright during the selection process -- note: that would be illegal, something judges generally frown upon -- but rather to shade facts and massage the truth. The same way any attorney worth his or her billable hours does as a matter of course. It's all about presentation. Being selective with what you reveal.
When speaking with Rakoff, perhaps Mara should have gone with the following:
• "The only thing Plaxico Burress is guilty of is loose waistband elastic."
• "Fine, I'll serve -- but you tell Coughlin I'll be missing a scheduled meeting."
• "Tiki Barber is talking about a comeback. Does that count as a real emergency?"
• "Of course I'm mentally and emotionally fit to decide the fate and freedom of my fellow citizens. I also think that this is the Jets' year."
• "I am close, personal friends with Lawrence Taylor."
• "The sooner I personally negotiate an end to the NFL lockout, the sooner the American public doesn't have to get by on a diet of team-owner-has-jury-duty stories."
• "If I'm required to serve, then I'll have to appoint someone else with extensive local sports management experience to oversee our draft. For instance, Isiah Thomas."