September 06, 2003

Jury Duty

Did my duty as a citizen today and went downtown to the court-house for jury duty. It was a first; I've never been summoned before.

I was running late, and the stern warning on the summons had said all jurors must appear at 7:45am at the Hall of Justice. It was 7:35 when I parked my car a few blocks away, and walked to the Hall of Justice on Broadway. When I crossed the street, I noticed, embedded into the curb on the island median in the middle of the street, was a marker indicating this curb had been constructed by "L.R. HUBBARD CONSTRUCTION CO." I thought for a moment, and then muttered, "nah..."

The Hall of Justice is a relatively new building (1996) with all the amenities, at least in the not-quite-accurately-named "Jury Lounge", of a recently-built high school cafeteria. Imagine a 10,000-square-foot room on the first floor of a downtown office building, with the room full of row after row of chairs, all facing the same direction, all permanently mounted to steel beams so that people can't but face forward. At the "front" of this room is a small podium with a bright brass official seal, the words of which I didn't read but I'm sure were official. Two flags, a U.S. flag and what might have been a California flag, hung from flagpoles behind the podium.

I noticed as people streamed into the room that they were all heading towards a far countertop area where a man kept repeating the same things over and over again: Take one of each, start with the plastic badge, take a timesheet if you're employed, there's nothing to fill out, just go relax until eight o'clock when orientation begins! over and over, with no variation. At 8:05 a woman holding a microphone walks to the podium and begins the orientation by introducing Judge Meyer, who offers platitudes on the great service we're doing here today for our fellow citizens, protecting the right of the people to trial by jury, yada yada. Then we're instructed how to read and fill out and sign the various forms we collected before, and how to tear off the perforated corner of our summons and slide it into the plastic badge holder so we'd all be identified as JURY. We were then told to wait until ten minutes to nine. It was 8:20.

At ten minutes to nine, nothing happened. Occasionally a woman's voice would come over the loud speaker (emphasis on loud) asking for one or more jurors to please come to the "Jury Services" office. 9:00am came and went. 10:00am came and went.

I brought TUXEDO PARK and managed to whiz through several more chapters, which was a great accomplishment as I've been wanting to finish this book for months and the finish-line will now be this weekend.

Lots of people talking on cell-phones during the long wait. Eventually people went and got magazines or books (the room had a shelf full of DANIELLE STEELE type books, none of which looked interesting).

11:00am came and then the voice appeared over the P.A. again, saying the courts did not require juries today and our jury service was completed and we could go. Swell.

I was disappointed I didn't get to serve in a real trial jury, or even go through the jury selection and voir dire. I had this whole script ready:

PROSECUTOR: Have you had any recent interactions with police officers?

ME: Yes.

JUDGE: Were they positive or negative?

ME: Positive. I was walkin my dog, and the officer said hello and told me he knew all about the breed, and it turned into a nice conversation about English Bull Terriers.

PROSECUTOR: Who is your employer?

ME: I'm self-employed.

PROSECUTOR: What line of work are you in?

ME: I'm a blogger.

JUDGE: Excuse me, a, a what?

ME: Blogger. I blog.

JUDGE: You mean you cut down trees?

ME: No, I blog, you know, blogs, blogging? I'm a blogger. I blog.

PROSECUTOR: Do you mean web log?

ME: Yeah, that's it. Web log. I write in a web log.

JUDGE: Is this an income-generating activity?

ME: Sure thing. Google AdSense. Don't leave homepage without it.

JUDGE: Excuse me?

PROSECUTOR: Juror number 4 dismissed.

Posted by brian at September 6, 2003 09:50 AM

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