Spaghetti Squash, Chicken Parm & Jury Duty!

I always win the lottery every 3 years…no, not the Mass lottery or anything where I get money, but the juror pool lottery.  In Massachusetts we have a “one day, one trial” system where everyone 18 to 70 years old must report for jury duty for either one day or if you’re chosen for a jury, one trial.  Unless you’re in the hospital on life support it’s not easy to get out of.  I personally don’t mind being on a jury, except for the part about arriving at 8:00 am (7:00 if you’d like a parking space at only $10). Juries don’t get selected until you watch a movie about responsibility, the Constitution, and John Adams that hadn’t changed in 12 years that I know of, followed by a black robed judge who came in to give us the final locker room  pep talk.

Really, if you appreciate me so much Your Honor, then where’s the free coffee?  And if the judge had come out a little more like Sammy Davis Jr. on Laugh In, I wouldn’t have been such a Miss Cranky Pants.

After sitting for over an hour,  jurors 1 through 95 were asked to shuffle into a courtroom.  I’d never seen them call so many potential jurors for screening and figured it must be a major or controversial trial.  Of course holding juror #2 card, I followed the crowd to find out what this one was about.  The judge gave a quick overview of the criminal case  – a man accused of raping a 13 year old girl.  One screening question asked if you might have any prejudices or could not be impartial.  Juror #2 held up her card and was called for questioning at the bench – good-bye Diane and back to the juror pool.  To wait…

Once enough potential jurors had been bounced off the rape case, at about 11:30 am, we once again shuffled off to a different courtroom to hear about a civil trial. For some reason, they really didn’t ask any questions other than if you knew either of the parties or witnesses and before I knew it, there I was in the jury box.  Not wanting to waste time, the judge had each lawyer give opening remarks.  A quick synopsis:

Dope 1 walked into a local bar, saw Dope 2 kissing his girlfriend of 17 years (although they’d broken up 3 days before), and punched Dope 2 in the eye knocking him off his bar stool.  Dope 2’s lawyer said Dope 1 proceeded to kick Dope 2 while he was down, resulting in serious injury which required surgery and a metal plate to repair a shattered cheek bone.  Medical bills of over $35,000 (we do have state insurance here so I doubt that was out of his pocket), loss of work, pain, anguish… Dope 2 is suing Dope 1 for all that and hopefully a pile of money.  Open & shut, right?  Until you got to hear Dope 2’s lawyer:

No doubt about it, Dope 1 did punch Dope 2 in the face but the fight was quickly broken up as witnessed by 3 people who will also state that there was no kicking.  There would also be witnesses saying that Dope 2 had told them that he’d been punched in the face a couple months prior – sounds like Dope 2 has a face people love to punch.  Also, Dope 2, although he was in severe pain resulting in surgery and hospitalization, did not bother to go to the emergency room until 3 days later and never reported the assault to the police.  Okay, now we’ve got something to ponder…but it being lunchtime and the judge not available after 2:00 because she had to hear motions from other dopes, we were told to report back to the courthouse at 8:45 am on Friday.

As I looked at the jury, I thought to myself, we’ve got 2 on here with severe attitude problems.  One a dreadlocked, purple haired, nose ringed, tattooed young lady and the second, a slouched and shuffling kid who’d purposely dressed in droopy sweat pants, flip flops and a skull t-shirt to ensure that he wouldn’t be chosen.  Both looked to be the minimum age (18) but for some reason they felt the adults in the room cared about the the terrible disruption in their lives and spent the entire wait time whining about it  Sure, the adults in the room had some complaints – one guy had to drive over 50 miles each way, a woman who worked from home had to make special arrangements for a babysitter, pretty much all of them had to miss work although by law their companies are required to pay them for the first 3 days of jury duty … well except for the guy who has his own business who I guess is required to pay himself.  We all got to pay for gas and parking out of our own pockets.

Friday we were back in for 8:45 am sharp and put into a jury room until 9:00… except guess who didn’t show up?  Yup, Mr. Attitude whose life must involve things too important to stop by to join us.  I will give credit to dreadlock girl who did show up, but after waiting a half hour, asked to speak to the judge after which we didn’t see her again.  So, then there were 10…and it was now after 10:00 when we were told that they were trying to contact the ‘gentleman’ who didn’t show up (or call).  Really?  If you’re going to blow off jury duty, would you answer a call where the ID says “Worcester Courthouse”?

After cooling our heels for an hour and a half, we were shuffled back to the courtroom where the judge told us that due to the delay in trying to find our wayward juror, the fact that she had anticipated the trial to end that day (Friday), the holiday on Monday, her commitment to be in a different court on Tuesday, and problems rescheduling witnesses, that she would have to declare a mistrial and we were released.  No, there were no alternate jurors selected and since the trial had already started, she couldn’t pull new jurors from the Friday pool.  So, thanks to the bad attitude of one irresponsible kid, everyone involved in the trial – defense, plaintiff, witnesses, judge, courtroom personnel, jurors, all wasted 2 days and I’m sure much expense while the 2 dopes who decided to punch each other out will need to come back at another time to do it all over again.  And what did I personally get out of it?  A really lousy cold since everyone around me was coughing and spraying.

Obviously, I can use all of the above to not cook a real meal, but I happened to be very lucky.  I had plenty of left over spaghetti sauce, chicken fillets, mozzarella & parm cheese PLUS my daughter had given me a hot tip about spaghetti squash.  I’ve heard of spaghetti squash but never knew what to do with it until Niki explained that it was a self-cooking meal.  Get out!  This is what I’ve been looking for since leaving my mother’s home cooking.  Whether you’re tied up on jury duty or busy in court suing someone for punching you in the head, this is something you can put together with no effort at all.  If you don’t have your own spaghetti sauce hanging around you could use a good prepared sauce but if you’d like the secret family sauce recipe which should hold you for almost a week, try this link from a prior post.  Let’s start with the easiest thing in the world –

SPAGHETTI SQUASH with Browned Garlic Butter Sauce
1.  Take a spaghetti squash & toss it in the oven at 375° for about 45 minutes, until soft when you poke with a fork.  You don’t have to do a thing with it –  no peeling, oil, no pan…
2.  Cut squash in half, remove the seeds in the center, then pull out all the ‘spaghetti’ strands with a fork.  It will look like this:

3.  Mince garlic, saute in pan with 3/4 to 1 stick of butter until just browned, then pour over squash and toss to coat.

FAST CHICKEN PARMESAN

– Wrap chicken breasts in Sarah wrap, take out your frustrations by pounding it flat.  Quickly saute in combination of olive oil & butter, then remove to a lightly greased casserole dish.
– Layer slices of fresh mozzarella, then freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of that.

Coat with homemade spaghetti sauce (or jarred).  Put in the oven with the squash for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy with your choice of wine – after all…It’s FRIDAY!!!