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From Ocean’s 12 to 12 Angry Men

soderbergh.gifLast week, I was fortunate enough — when called to jury duty — to have my jury pool dismissed before we’d even arrived to the courthouse. Whatever case we’d been assigned to had settled a couple of days before.

Hollywood big-shot and kick-ass director, Steven Soderbergh, wasn’t as lucky. Soderbergh was called to jury duty last week in New York City, and just to show how decent a guy he is, he didn’t phone ahead with excuses to get out of duty. Instead, he arrived and gave his excuses in person.

The trial was of Lina Sinha, a female director and teacher of a Montessori school on the Upper East Side. Sinha was accused of the statutory rape and sodomy of two teenaged boys. Sinha allegedly began an affair with a 13-year-old that led well into the boy’s college years; she’d even rid him of his pesky virginity on his 15th birthday. She also had an affair with another kid, as well, seducing him when he was 12 because she missed the other victim after he broke up with her.

Soderbergh answered voir dire questions seriously.

When the prosecutor suggested that some jurors might be thinking, “Where was that teacher when I was around?” several of the would-be jurors, women included, could not help giggling or smiling, but not Mr. Soderbergh.

Mr. Shargel asked the jurors if they were the type to make snap decisions — say, in “three seconds, five seconds” — rather than listen to the whole case.

“Mr. Soderbergh?” Mr. Shargel asked.

“Not in a trial,” Mr. Soderbergh replied, deadpan.

The judge overseeing the case eventually dismissed Soderbergh, over the defense attorney’s objections. The judge allowed Soderbergh to skip out because he was too busy filming Guerilla, a film about Che Guevera.

Damn. He took my excuse.