Back in June, 2007 I received a Jury Duty summons. It was one of the pain-in-the-ass kind where my report date was for a Friday, and it was my duty to call in on each day during the course of the week to determine if it was necessary to report on that day. If I made it through the following Thursday without my group being asked to report, I was in the clear for the next year, and wouldn't have to go back.
I ended up being told I had to report on Wednesday at 7:45am. I found this out on Tuesday night at about 11pm... yeah, that wasn't going to happen. Besides, I had company coming into town later in the week and didn't want to be stuck on a jury for that. So, I called to postpone. I picked October 10 as the day to report, and promptly forgot about it. While on my Oregon vacation last month, the new Summons came in the mail. I was not pleased when it arrived. It told me to report to the Hall of Justice downtown at 7:45am on 10/10/07.
Fast forward a few weeks to October 9. I'm out until 11pm bowling (I bowled a 160 in my second game, so I'm happy about that) and had to get up the next morning at 6:00am to make sure I'd be there on time. Earlier in the day I had done some research to determine the best way to get to the courthouse downtown, and opted for driving halfway (to Old Town) and taking the Trolley from there. My other options were to drive to downtown and attempt to park for the day (not even remotely cheap) or to take the 30 or 150 buses from UTC. I would've had to get up at something like 2am to take the bus, so that option was out. Anyways, here's my morning schedule:
06:00 : Alarm 1 goes off.
06:03 : Alarm 2 goes off, to make sure I heard the first one.
06:05 : Stumble out of bed. Hear my roommate making breakfast.
06:06 : Wonder why my crazy roommate gets up so damn early.
06:06 : Wonder why anyone gets up so early.
06:45 : Leave apartment for Old Town Transit Center
07:01 : Park at Old Town Transit Center. Make beeline for Trolley tracks.
07:02 : This is not the way to the Trolley tracks.
07:04 : Arrive on trolley platform. Wait in line behind 1 person using the ticket machine.
07:05 : The person in front of me does not know how to use the ticket machine.
07:06 : My turn. Fare: $4 round trip. Not enough to let you use a credit card. Shit.
07:06 : Ooh! I have a $5 bill. Insert bill. Machine spits out ticket and a Susan B Anthony dollar coin. Useless.
07:06:40 : I run to Blue Line Train
07:06:50 : I sit down on Blue Line Train
07:07:00 : Blue line train departs for San Ysidro. Made it with 10 seconds to spare. Damn ticket machine.
07:14 : I arrive at the Civic Center trolley station and get off the trolley.
07:23 : The security line was shorter than normal. I'm early. I find a chair close to one of the only power outlets in the room and whip out my laptop.
From here, it's a bit less interesting. Nothing is happening. at 8:00am, a cheezy "You'll love jury service! You'll make friends to last a lifetime! You'll learn interesting things! You'll serve Justice! Thanks for volunteering(*) to come today!" video starts playing on the projectors.
(*) Note: My summons didn't say anything about volunteering. In fact, it said (in not so many words) that they'd arrest me if I didn't show up. Hardly sounds like volunteering to me.
After the video stops playing, some judge from one of the courtrooms comes in and gives a little speech about how glad they are that we could make it (again with the thinking we volunteered for this) and how much they aim to make our service as enjoyable as possible. Then some clerk comes in and starts instructing us on how to fill out our forms, which boxes we should check, etc. etc. I am forced to check the "LC" box because my employer will pay up to 10 days for Jury Duty, but I am exempt from checking the "VLC" box for the same reason, which gets me out of the 6 week case they're picking a Jury for. From now until about 10:15am, they're calling single jurors one to three at a time to the Jury Services office, probably to clear up issues with the folks who lied on their forms and didn't check the boxes they were legally supposed to.
Some time around 10:30 and in around the second or third group of people they called out to assign to an actual courtroom, my name came up. Out of a panel of 35 people, I was number 26. After all the interviews and lawyer challenges and whatnot, my spot as Prospective Juror #26 won me a spot as one of the four Alternate Jurors. Number four, to be exact.
What does this all mean? It means I get to sit in a courtroom until probably Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and listen to an entire trial. When it comes time for Jury deliberations, I most likely don't get to participate. As one of my fellow jurors quipped to me, "It's like going to a suspense thriller movie... and being escorted out of the theater by the usher 5 minutes before the end."
Once the trial is over and I'm allowed to actually talk about it, I'll tell you what I think of the whole deal. I've already struck a bargain with one of the actual jurors: If I don't make it to the bitter end, he'll tell me what happened. Woohoo!
EDIT: So, The trial was a civil case in which a doctor was suing his former partner for slander. According to the plaintiff, the defendant made statements of a defamatory nature, including that the plaintiff treated patients while impaired by drugs. Problem is, the star witness for the plaintiff was a hostile witness (and a lawyer who was suing the plaintiff in another matter) and as such, he had "no recollection" of anything. Everything else he could remember was "protected by attorney-client privilege." Bullshit. Long story short, the Jury didn't buy it and said the defendant was not liable, and that any sort of burden of proof had not been met. It reeked of a frivolous lawsuit. And now I know of at least two doctors not to go to.
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