He stared into space. He drummed his fingers. He slumped into his pinstripes. Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent a day cooling his heels on a...
NEW YORK — He stared into space. He drummed his fingers. He slumped into his pinstripes.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent a day cooling his heels on a Manhattan Supreme Court bench Monday as a prospective juror, stifling yawns amid the droning voices of clerks and lawyers.
“I plan to have a nice, quiet day and catch up,” he said as he walked up the courthouse steps in the morning, a binder full of magazines and briefing papers under his arm.
But he was soon slumped on a chair in the jury assembly room with 124 of his fellow New Yorkers, wearing the clearly impatient look of a man whose time was being wasted.
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Tina Goody, sitting in the row behind him, pulled a pink cellphone out of her cleavage and dialed her mom.
“The mayor,” said Goody, 48. “Yeah. He’s got to go through the same foolishness. I guess we’re going to be here all day, right?”
Bloomberg’s grindingly slow day generated hubbub in the court. Jurors asked for his autograph, and judges and supervisors who don’t typically bother with jury selections suddenly found reasons to visit the courtrooms where Bloomberg sat.
They repeatedly offered to give Bloomberg special accommodations in the courthouse, and he declined them all — though no one yelled at him for drinking coffee and checking his BlackBerry in the courtrooms, activities which are technically prohibited.
“He’s the same as any other juror, as you’ll now find out,” said Judge Eileen Bransten.
The mayor has done his duty before: He has served on several juries, and was called but not selected for service most recently in February 2001, months before his election.
His predecessor Rudy Giuliani was foreman of a 1999 jury that found a landlord not liable for hot-water problems that left a tenant with scalded genitals.
Monday, Bloomberg was quickly picked as a potential juror in the trial of Santo (Pat) Tessitore, a lifelong printing-press operator who died of a cancer linked to asbestos exposure. His widow, Emma, is seeking damages from a company that made printing presses. Her lawyer, James Long, seemed uncomfortable with the mayor’s presence on the panel.
He asked other candidates several times if they would be afraid to disagree with Bloomberg during deliberations. Then he asked the mayor if he would end up dominating discussions.
“I’d be one voice out of six, but I have a strong personality,” Bloomberg said. “You’d have to ask the other jurors what they’d think.”
In the end — after a lunch break and endless lawyering under a clock that had no minute hand — Bloomberg wasn’t picked, and quickly strode back to City Hall. He will return to court today for another round.
“It’s cool talking to the mayor,” Goody said. “But I want to go home.”