When Duty Calls...

So, what do you do with that jury summons you most likely get in the mail every year? I know a lot of folks who throw it away. I don't know that the government has the funds to track down and prosecute, but that being a possibility, and the feeling of civic duty, compels me to report. I'm not sure how it works in other states and counties, but here in Los Angeles County, about 10,000 people serve each week. We do have this nifty "one day-one trial" thingy, but that often ends up being kind of bogus in that you'll be brought into a courtroom, sworn in, and then told, "Oops, we're too busy and will get on with this jury selection tomorrow. Buh-bye." And that's after you've been through a jury selection in the morning. One day? Well, whatever.

Los Angeles City Hall aka The Daily Planet

As some of you who follow me on various social media outlets know, I recently served on an actual trial. I've been summoned many times in the past, randomly called to sit in the jury box, but always released during the voir dire, which is where the lawyers from both sides interrogate
question the potential 14-16 people (includes alternates) who will hear the trial. I was not kicked off this time and participated as Juror #4 in a criminal case in which the defendant was charged with three felonies. For the record, we reached unanimous verdicts fairly quickly, but took a lot of time going over and over everything just to confirm. Not guilty on two counts, and guilty on one is how we ruled. Though not necessary, our judge did agree with our decision.

If you were reading my tweets or Facebook updates, you saw lots of complaints. Overall, it was a great learning experience, one I think everyone should do if able, but there were a lot of inconveniences. There is a lot of "hurry up and wait," much like on a movie or tv set, but without the craft services, as a friend pointed out. It's completely understanding why so many people say the stupidest things to get out of it, especially if they don't get paid by their employer.

I get 5 days covered a year. I had to go for 6 days, but 2 of those were on Fridays, my day off (yay!?), so I only had to use 4 and no vacation time. You can insist that there is no way whatsoever that you can follow the law (defendant is innocent until the State proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt) and that "he HAS to be guilty since he was charged with three things" and ensure not being chosen for the jury. When your lunch buddy says the exact same thing during her questioning, you both just look like the frakking idiots you probably are.

So yeah, the traffic, the rain, the endless waiting and waiting were painful. But, the chance to sleep in some days, the time to read a book, and the chance to have lunch in the shadow of one of my favorite downtown landmarks (see above) every day made it more tolerable. Oh yeah, and seeing first hand how our justice system, no matter how inefficient, works was definitely valuable.


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