Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jury Duty- it's finally over

I said I would come and give you a full rundown of my jury duty experience, so everyone out there can be a little more informed about the process, and what it means to be called to Jury Duty.

As we went over here, I had already shown up for my first day and was assigned to a case.  Day two took place on Tuesday, and I was the back half of 150 people.

D'oh! My first jury summons after 4 years as an LA resident Andy Sternberg cc

1. They wait for everyone to show-up.  We started almost an hour late (after 11:30am!) despite most of us being on time.  However, they wait for everyone to come before they do practically anything.  So, do your other jurors a favor- overestimate the amount of time it will take you to get there and be on time.

2. They assigned us different numbers.  We all had Juror ID numbers, but to make things simplier they gave us numbers 73-147.  I happened to be either really lucky or really unlucky and drew number 147.  Lucky in that the chances of me serving on the jury were low, since they go in order of your juror number to keep you or kick you off.  Unlucky in that it means you are the last one the judge talks to, and the last person who gets called in for questioning.  Until they get their 16 people, you aren't going anywhere.

3. The prosecution isn't allowed to talk to you.  Not in the hallway, not on the bus, not in a restaurant.  They might seem like the most unfriendly people, but don't bother to wave, because they won't acknowledge you or say hi.  That's the law.

4. There can be multiple juror selection processes.  In my case it started with a questionnaire that was basically about the death penalty.  How many times can you ask the same question more than once?  5 pages worth, it turns out.  Once we filled that out anyone who said they couldn't weigh the evidence and decide to give either a life sentence or the death penalty was out.  So, if you are in this circumstances strong emotional thoughts anti-death penalty are in your favor.

5.  The judge will not care about your excuses.  According to the judge if you are sitting there you have no excuse for getting out of jury duty.  There is no place, nor any opportunity to say things like "my due date is the same date the trial is supposed to end" or "I don't have childcare" or "my daughter has cancer."  She is assuming that if you are before her the lower jury selectioners have done their job and gotten rid of anyone with a valid complaint.  However, not speaking or understanding english well will still get you kicked off.

6. You will spend a lot of time sitting in a hallway.  Don't open the door for virtually any reason.

Jury Duty Hallway 2 cc
This hallway will probably have access to restrooms, but don't hold your breath for water, at least not at the downtown LA courthouse.  Additionally there will be tons of people shuffling through, and the court clerks don't talk very loudly, so listen-up.

7. You will be questioned by the judge, the defense and the prosecution.  The judge will likely question everyone, if only to be sure that what you wrote you actually meant.  However, the defense might only question one person, or two.  The prosecution is going to be the hardest- they are most likely going to make you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  If you are pregnant, they might make you cry (or at least they did me).

My case was a case from 1984 that was apparently being retried.  The defendant was also being his own lawyer and it was a rape and murder trial.  Honestly glad that I'm no longer on that trial, but it was an interesting experience never-the-less.

Here's to being able to write 'breastfeeding' on my future summons next year!

Have you been on jury duty?  What happened?

1 comment:

  1. Someone sent me this article to contribute to the discussion. Thanks! http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-breastfeeding-jurors-20140518-story.html


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