Hoang Jury

Junie Hoang, the actress who sued Amazon and its Internet Movie Database unit for posting her age, can take her complaint — or at least some of it — to a jury. In 2011, Ms. Hoang, who is now 41 years old, filed a complaint that said IMDb.com, a widely used film and television database, had illegally used her credit card information to obtain and post her age. – The New York Times

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, now that you have heard all the testimony, seen all the evidence, and not discussed any aspect of this lawsuit with your friends and families, all that remains is for you to retire to the deliberation room and decide whether you want to live in a world where a website—a website that in fact unabashedly holds itself out as a comprehensive online database of information... indeed, one of the single most popular online entertainment destinations, with over 100 million unique users each month and an Alexa rank of 48, whatever that means—that anyone with a computer or smart phone anywhere... nay, everywhere in the world, with the exception of China, unless one uses a proxy server, something else I don’t entirely understand, can access and... hang on, I seem to have lost my train of thought... well: Do you want to raise your children, if you have any, in a world where a website brazenly displays actual facts, regardless of what misinformation has been provided to it in falsified documents? That’s what you need to ask yourselves, and each other, and what you need to imagine asking your family and friends, if you were not prohibited from discussing this lawsuit with anyone outside the jury deliberation room to which you will shortly retire.

It will be your charge, your responsibility, your burden—but also your privilege!—to decide whether the plaintiff—an actress not one of you, I’m certain, had ever heard of before this trial began—is entitled to a monetary award to compensate her for damages to her career caused by the defendant’s reckless revelation online of her true age—41. I might as well remind you—since the lawyer for the defendant is going to anyway—that your award may not include any compensation for so-called “emotional distress” suffered by the plaintiff as a result of her true age—41—being revealed online, since the judge has already ruled that, as a matter of law, such a claim is “without merit” and “stupid,” opining that “no grown [that is, 41-year-old] woman should be allowed to complain, in essence, that her feelings were hurt because someone remarked that she was no longer in her thirties.” And do you want to hear something funny? If you take more than a day to deliberate, the plaintiff will be even older when you return your verdict. That’s right: My client’s birthday is tomorrow! She’ll be 42. There might be a cake, depending on what you decide in the meantime.

As you deliberate, I think it would behoove you, if behoove is the word I want, to try to put yourself in the plaintiff’s shoes—size 11—and consider how you would feel if certain facts about yourselves were made public, notwithstanding that you attempted to mislead others by providing fraudulent documents, as my client innocently did. How would you feel if someone, without your permission, did independent research to determine the truth that you’d taken pains to hide? Juror number 3, for instance: Would you want the world to know that your adjusted gross income in 2011 was actually $162,350—and not the lower amount that appears on your tax return? Juror number seven, you used to be a woman. And then you were a man. And then, for two years, you were a bookcase. And now you’re a woman again.... And juror number eight: You have a whole second family that your first family doesn’t know about! You’d like to keep that a secret, I’m sure! My point is that each of you can, I’m sure, sympathize with the plaintiff. We all have skeletons in our closets. Oh, juror number one: You keep skeletons in your closets at home!

You might be tempted to punish the plaintiff for her own alleged wrongdoings, but resist this temptation, especially if you don’t want me to move for a mistrial and render pointless the week you’ve spent away from your husbands, wives, kids, cats, and jobs so you could be here doing your civic duty. The judge has already ruled that my client’s misrepresentations—omitting her age when first subscribing to the online database... then providing a false date of birth to make herself appear seven years younger than her actual age... then asking the database to remove the false date of birth, submitting a fake identification to “prove” that the date she’d given was wrong—these actions are not sufficient to bar my client’s claim—that the truth, discovered by an overzealous database employee exercising unnecessary initiative and searching another public online database, caused her harm. A wise man or woman once said, possibly, “The truth hurts.” Another wise man once famously screamed, “You can’t handle the truth.” Today, in this courtroom, I implore you to consider that, in fact, the truth does hurt, always, and that none of us can handle it. And the truth certainly should never be made available for the public to find. When people can learn the truth about trivial things, then the truth itself becomes a trivial thing. And this must not be allowed to happen.

Thank you.

Update: [A] jury in Seattle handed a loss to Huong ["Junie"] Hoang, the actress suing IMDb for revealing her age. The verdict in favor of IMDb came after a trial... that lasted just over two days. [The] jury... determined... that IMDb [did not] breach... any legal obligations to the 42-year-old actress. – The Hollywood Reporter

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.