Thursday, September 15, 2011

Full Court Press

***9/20 UPDATE: I just received my check from the city and it was for $34.08 for three days service plus one-way gas mileage.

I've had a drivers license and been a registered voter for many years, but until this week have never been summoned for jury duty.  Most of my first (and what I was hoping would be my only) day was spent in the giant "Juror Assembly Room" in downtown Los Angeles which looks like an airline terminal with about 200 seats facing the same direction.  I appreciated that it was quiet so I could get some reading and writing done (thank goodness they have wi-fi.)  The silence was only interrupted by a random snore or two until someone would gently slug the offender...  One case they said was expected to last 25 days (yowza!), but it seemed like they mainly took people who would still be paid by their employers during the course of the trial.  In that case, being on a jury would be pretty cool I'd imagine -- a nice diversion from being stuck in a cubicle all day every day.

Finally at 3:30 in the afternoon (so close to making it out of there!) my name was called to be one of 30 people brought upstairs for a case.  It was amazing how many people didn't mind sounding ridiculous, stubborn, ignorant and/or downright stupid in order to get released based on their biases.  Thanks in large part to some people telling long-winded stories about their friend's friend's friend and how what happened to them precludes the potential juror from being able to impartially listen to the evidence, picking the jury wasn't finished by the end of day 1.  So most of us had to return the following day at 9 A.M.  As I was potential juror #29 (of 30), and they get rid of people essentially in order, there is really no way I should have been part of the 13-person panel.  But, thanks to so many tools in there, and my simply telling the truth ('no, your honor, knowing someone who was once evicted from their apartment for not paying rent has not left me considering all landlords to be Satan's spawn), I did indeed get chosen.

I won't go into all the details of the trial, but it was a tenant/landlord case and involved a witness interpreter who had a flair for the dramatic, a lawyer who couldn't stop rolling his eyes -- and one who got chastised by the judge for pounding his hand on the table -- and a jar of German cockroaches presented as Defense Exhibit 57.

The case took two days and the deliberation took about two hours.  It was actually pretty interesting although I found myself wanting to jump up and ask some questions that were for some reason avoided and would have made our job much easier -- admittedly some of the omissions were no doubt due to some legalese prohibitions.

Along with the thanks of the court and the generous $36.48 check I will soon receive from the city for my three days of service (which includes one-way gas mileage to the courthouse), I got a nice case of food poisoning from some $10 pasta salad I bought for lunch on Tuesday.  Ah, civic responsibility...

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