One of my coworkers got drafted for Jury Duty last week. Poor girl. I’ve gone in for Jury Duty twice, and now I just ignore the early questionaires that they send. It’s not like they send them via registered mail, so they can’t prove that I got it. Yes, I know it’s my “civic duty” to participate, blah blah blah, but frak that. After I what I went through before, I’m not volunteering for that again.
The first time I got called, it was just about 2 or 3 months after I’d turned 18 and registered to vote (that’s how you get on the list for potential jury summons’ by being a registered voter). @ the time, the rules in my county were that Jury Duty service was either for either a minimum of 5 days, or service on one jury for a trial, whichever was longest. In that instance, I got picked for a jury the first day, which was a Monday, and that trial started that day, lasted for two days, and we deliberated for 3 days, deliverying our verdict (GUILTY) on Friday. So that was the end of my survice. But the part I hated was the inconvienence of travel. I didn’t have a car @ the time, so I had to get up early to take two buses into downtown L.A. and back everyday. And it was during the summer, so it was hot. I couldn’t stand that, and was so glad when it was over.
But the 2nd time I got called it was maybe 10 years later. This was much worse. Now I had a car, so I could drive there, but the problem is what happeed when I got there. First, now the rules had changed. Jury Duty was for a minimum of 10 days, period. Meaning, if this had been the rule the first time, then after my 5 day trial I would have still had to go back the next week. So this time, I go in, you have to be there by 8am, and you sit in a large waiting room with a bunch of other people. Periodically they’ll call out a list of names, and if your name is called you and all those people are sent to a courtroom, to be questioned for a jury. If you don’t get picked, you go back to the waiting room, and just sit there until 5pm, when you check out and go home. There was an hour-break @ 12pm when you could go out to eat, if you wanted. Otherwise, you just sat there in the waiting room all day long. Doing nothing. I only got called for a jury three times. The first time I called to a courtroom, I sat and was questioned, it was for a drunk-driver case. But @ the time I didn’t drink alcohol, and the defense attorney rejected everyone who said they didn’t drink. I guess they figured we couldn’t be fair to their client. The 2nd time I called, I was accepted, and the jury was selected, but it was right before lunchtime, so they told us the trial would start when we got back. But then when we got back they told us the trial was called off, because the defendant changed his mind and copped a plea, so we were sent back to the waiting room. The third time I was called, they told the group of people whose names were called to go to a certain courtroom. When we got to the room the door was closed, and a man told us to just wait outside. So we were all left standing there, just waiting in the hallway outside the courtroom door, for over an hour. Then finally someone opens the door and tells us all that we’re not needed and sends us back the waiting room. That really sucked.
The rest of the days, I was never even called. I just went in @ 8am, and sat there until 5pm, every day. What a waste of time. And this was the days before the internet and mobile devices took over. @ least now I could bring my iPad, to surf the internet, or read all the books on my Kindle, and text people with my Blackberry. But back then, I didn’t even have a mobile phone. I’d buy a newspaper in the morning to read, but that wouldn’t last long. It was just so boring. They’d let all of us who’d been called in go after 9 days, instead of 10, so @ least that was a good thing. But after that, I said forget it. Now I ignore all the summons. If they want me again, they’re going to have to physically come get me and drag me to the courthouse.
And the sad thing is, the people who really lose out, are the people in court who count on juries being fair. Because, let me tell you, I would be the perfect person to serve on any jury. If you’re ever on trial, and you’re innocent, you’d want ME judging your case. I can put aside all personal feeling and biases that I may have, if I have to. I swear, if my mother was on trial for murder, and I was one the jury, if the evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that she was guilty, then I’d vote guilty. Likewise, even if someone I wanted to be guilty was on trial, like, for example, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, the man who killed Trayvon Martin, I could be fair and vote Not Guilty if the prosecuter doesn’t prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
But until they make the circumstances of Jury Duty easier to follow, I’m not going back!