Monday, April 21, 2014

Jury Duty- My LA courthouse experience... so far

I received my jury summons in late March for a week in early April.  According to the summons I was supposed to register or mail back the form, then call in to see if I would actually have to go to court.

I have to be honest, I wasn't that upset to receive it.  I've never sat on a jury before, always living outside of the county that's called me up.  Not to mention that they probably had my parents address listed as my address, and they probably threw a few of them away.  (my dad always says they can't prove that you got the mail...)

This time I knew I would have to serve.  I work for a semi-government entity, in the department of Government relations.  It just didn't seem right to ignore the summons.  So I registered online, and showed up Monday for my day in court (hehe)

Here's what happened and what I learned:

1. I parked at the Walt Disney Concert Hall as instructed. This was very easy, and they clearly have a routine for the whole thing.  However, it was also VERY far from the courthouse itself.  At least a 3-4 block walk.  Good thing I gave myself extra time.

2. Checked in by my 9:30am deadline.  What a joke!  I could have easily been there by 10/10:15am and not had any problems whatsoever.  They made me fill out the form (despite registering online) and then I got to hang out.

3. Found the bathroom/checked out the snack place.  These are two places you can go without needed to sign-out of the jury assembly room.  Bathrooms are okay, prices in the snack shop are a bit higher than your local 7/11.

4. Found a comfy seat.  I would definitely steak out a piece of territory sooner rather than later.  I even put my handbag on the seat next to me to get a little extra space.

5. Good books!  Everyone comments on it, and it really is SO important.  They do have Wi-fi, which worked great, so I took a bit of advantage of that as well.

6. They finally called us for a panel.  And informed us that it was for a possible 40 day trial, and that it would start on April 22nd.  He read a list of additional exemptions and then started calling names randomly.  I was towards the bottom- which I'm hoping is a good sign for step two.

7. Being pregnant and having doctor's appointments won't get you off the long trial.  No luck on that one.  I did try though.  However, you want to know what will?  Take a look at this document which studies the Jury Selection process throughout CA.  My favorite is the chart on page 36.  Turns out the best way to get off of jury duty is to know a someone personally involved in the case.  Second best excuse, be up on the news and know facts from the case.  If neither of those work, then knowing a victim of a similar crime might be helpful or better yet knowing someone else accused of a crime works well.  Not having time, or having financial hardship- not so much. 

I'll let you know how it goes- if I get called back and what the jury selection process is like.  I know it's a felony case, that I'm one of 150 people being called back for possible selection. That makes me think my odds are good, since they only need about 15 people...

Do any of you have Jury Duty experience?

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