Jury Duty is a party. Kind of.

16m.jpgUh oh! Time for another jury duty post! That’s right, I spent most of last week (and a bit of the week before) on jury duty down at the Metropolitan Courthouse. At first I thought it’d be a fun little adventure away from work but it quickly turned into a little thing our bailiff called “the longest trial in this court’s history. No, really.” 8 days doesn’t seem like that long, but I guess in terms of traffic/DUI trials it’s quite some time. It felt kind of like a month. Anyway, I come to you, loyal bloggers LA with some hot tips for your time should you be called to jury duty in our fair city.

1. Of course, the first thing to remember is jury duty is your civic duty and without reasonable people on juries something bad is gonna happen to you and you’re gonna be SO PISSED because the jackass jury members weren’t smart enough to let you off the hook. So c’mon, let’s not all be jackasses. I can’t even tell you how many people told me “Oh, just tell them you hate black people,” as an easy way to get out of jury duty. Really, people? Really?

2. Bring something to do. Holy crap. I finished 2 and a half books and watched 2 movies. The court isn’t exactly set up with your valuable time in mind, so bring some extra stuff to do.

3. Take notes. There’s something about sitting in the jury box listening to lawyers fight it out that makes the little things that happen hilarious. Treasure these moments because odds are the rest of the time is going to be the same 4 questions asked repeatedly.

4. Be nice to the parking guy! One wrong step and he will glare you down every time you pull into the ramp in the morning. He is unforgiving and doesn’t care if you’re sorry for your accidental transgressions. Be nice to him and do as he says.

5. Finally, make friends with your fellow jurors. Especially if you’ve got kind of a contentious case, deliberations are gonna be intense. Odds are someone is gonna get all mad as hell at someone else and sparks are gonna fly. Also, let’s not forget that these people are your peers. They come from all walks of life and you probably don’t get a chance to interact with people so different from the folks you normally run around with, well, at least the half of your jury that doesn’t work in the film industry.

Ultimately, jury duty was one of the most boring, scary, rewarding, soul-sucking, enriching and awkward things that’s happened to me in some time. I’d recommend it to anyone. Sure my boss wants to light me on fire for missing so much work, but that’s a small price to pay to enable our judicial system to continue chugging along.

9 Replies to “Jury Duty is a party. Kind of.”

  1. :thumbsup:

    My experience with jury duty was similar, and those are all great things to remember.

  2. Call me a romantic, but I’ve always thought that jury duty and democracy went hand in hand. I’ve always wanted to be on a jury (is that a hangover from my love of courtroom drama?), and now that my kids are old enough, I can. Just got a summons for the week of June 25th. Thanks for the hot tips!

  3. Many of us never have the opportunity to visit a courtroom, which jury duty allows, seeing how our justice system actually runs.

    I served on a panel some twenty years ago in Norwalk, it was a gang shooting trial, and I still vividly remember the pictures of the murder victim with his eyes wide open, but dead nonetheless. As the trial proceeded, the sheriff’s explained how to read graffiti, which I always thought was just nicknames painted on walls. Graffiti is the newspaper of the gangs; marks one gangs territory and boosts which gang member killed someone and who accompanied them in the shooting.

  4. Ah…one of the biggest pain in the back side have to do things in the whole world. When I was a cube dweller it meant I got out of the office, but I never got on a panel as my occupation (claims manager) left me tainted in the eyes of the plaintiff.
    After taking more stuff to trial and monitoring their progress I can’t help but think there has to be a better way than the current jury system. Voir Dire pulls out the ones capable of independent thought and potentially can be lead down the merry path. Sorry if this sounds cynical or insulting but its just my frame of reference.
    Other than that your fellow jurors in the pool can be entertaining and enjoy that part of the eperience.

  5. the other good thing about jury duty in downtown LA? A relatively long lunch break with lots of yummy options nearby (Little Toyko, downtown Central Market, etc).

  6. To piggyback on Erin’s comment, there’s also lots of things to see, especially if you don’t often get a chance to run around downtown. There’s the library, Union Station, Olvera Street, museums….. Gosh!

  7. downtown: just got assigned to a trial at the last bit of my last day on call. possibly lasting 2 weeks.
    many lunches.

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