Oh, no. It turns out you're not allowed to drink when you're serving on a jury. Damn. A juror during the trial of Samuel Brandon (a firefighter accused of stealing objects from the WTC site) is at the center of the defense team argument that Brandon should be retried, since Juror John Anastas admits to drinking during deliberations. Anastas and the other jurors found Brandon guilty of petit larceny (and Gothamist always thought it was petty larceny), but Anastas had been drinking from a Poland Springs half-liter bottle, filled with water and vodka. Defense attorneys grilled Anastas on how much he drank ("I didn't count, because I just sip."), while the prosecution got Anastas to admit he ate "half a ham-and-cheese sandwich during lunch." He claims that he would have come up with the same guilty verdict and that he was in complete control - he just took a big swig after deliberating and then finished the bottle on the way home to East 4th Street.
Gothamist feels that jury duty is an important civil duty (more information from the NY State Unified Court System about NY Jurors). That said, here are some ways to get out of jury duty in the NY State court system. But iVillage says jury duty can help your career. And trials that could lead jurors to drink: The Tyco trial, the Martha Stewart trial.