14 July 2011

Jury Duty

[NOTE: Back in March of 2010 I had jury duty.  Here are some observations from that time.]

You know what's depressing? The two long lines of people with court dates wrapping around outside. Before the day is through, I may find myself sitting in judgment on one of the people standing on line. That's heavy.

How do you get to Superior Court? What sort of crime?

*     *     *

Overheard a judge:

"It's like a Punch and Judy show around here. People beating on each other."

So that's the sort of crime that makes it to Superior Court. That and traffic cases.

It's a light day today. According the the Jury Room lady, they usually have 20-30 cases going. Today it's 5 cases in 3 courtrooms. Usually there are around 100 jurors, but only about 65 jurors showed up today. Odds are pretty good I'll get selected, but that's fine. The court is closed for Cesar Chavez Day tomorrow, which means I can go to work and get some stuff done. The average case runs 5 days, so I'll be fully done (hopefully) by next Thursday.

There are posters around the room with pictures of celebrities ranging from Camryn Manheim to "Weird" Al Yankovic under the words "Jury Service." These noted celebrities served, and we should feel proud to be among their number! Well, whatever, but it is kind of cool to know that "Weird" Al served. (Can you imagine being up on an assault charge and seeing his curly mane in the jury box?)

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I checked in with my boss at lunchtime. The office is not burning down, contrary to her fears when I told her I wouldn't be there today.

I ran across to McDonalds for lunch. I'm fairly certain they haven't changed the grease in their fryer since the OJ Simpson trial. Fried food typically tastes ... well, fried. But it's a BAD sign when fried food all tastes the same. I mean the McNuggets taste like the french fries taste like whatever else they fry. There's an H. Salt Fish and Chips in the valley that has that problem. The hush puppies taste like fish and the fish taste like fries, etc. More accurately, everything tastes like a pastiche of everything. So I have a bit of the ol' "McBrick" going on right now. (Gah ... even the coke was flat. How does that happen with a fountain drink?)

Outside the courthouse is a plaque commemorating the start of Billy Graham's career as a street preacher on the corner of Hill and Washington. I tried to take a picture of the plaque for dad, but the writing doesn't register on my camera phone.

So I'm waiting again. It looks like the first batch of jurors they called were about half of us, so I suppose if they call for more (and don't settle the cases before trial -- a definite possibility) I will most likely get called up in the next batch.

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I'll be back on Thursday morning for more jury selection. A few observations:

1. Court reporters are saints. I hope they are well compensated for the non-stop, straining to hear mumblers, catching every word WORK.

2. People are freaking cagey when answering questions in court. We've been well trained by TV and film.

JUDGE "So you work in real estate?"

JUROR "Yes."


JUDGE "Tell me a little about that."


JUROR "I work in real estate."

That's an exaggeration, and not a real conversation that I heard today, but you get the idea.

3. Jury duty is like taking out the garbage. No one wants to do it, but avoiding it isn't really an option.

I don't think I'll get away with live blogging on Thursday, so I'll share my thoughts after I get home. Assuming I'm not chosen for the jury, that is. If I'm chosen I have to swear some sort of blood oath to not talk about anything until after the verdict is answered.

[Sure enough, I was chosen for a jury.  It was a case involving indecent exposure.  In the end, we the jury found that it was likely to have occurred, but the evidence presented did not prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  So, innocent was the verdict and the guy walked.]