Monday, October 26, 2009

Liveblogging Jury Duty

Today is my first time at jury duty. Not knowing what to expect, I came earlier so I wouldn't be late. After parking and going through security, I was directed to a huge waiting room with probably thousands of other potential jurors. We went through orientation already and now are waiting to be called for jury selection.

The first pre-screened jury duty call was for a 15-day trial. They're only qualifying those people with paid jury duty days from work. Since I get a grand total of zero days, I'm disqualified. The next case was called too and it's for 10 days. I'm surprised by the number of people standing in like to be pre-screened. They either get a lot of paid jury duty days (public employee) or are retired/unemployed. If all the cases are long, then I'm probably going to spend the entire day sitting in the jury assembly room. Maybe I can find a more comfy chair and take a nap.



Third case called was for 7 days and they're still pre-screening for financial hardship/paid jury duty days. Maybe our zero paid jury duty days policy at work was designed to keep us out of long cases.



Aaahhh! First random request and I got called.



Lunch break. I'm stuck in jury selection hell. Looks it will take a longer than one day so I have to come back tomorrow. I can't blog on anything about the case but it is a criminal case and may take the entire week. There goes all my accrued vacation... hope I don't have to start taking unpaid leave for this. :(



Lunch break almost over. I ended up grabbing a sandwich from the court cafe. Sigh... back to the courtroom. It's kind of surreal sitting there watching the judge talk to each potential juror and joking about stuff while the defendant is sitting right there. I wonder what he's thinking while listening to the light banter from people that will decide his fate for the next few/many years.



Afternoon break. Jury selection is way slow. We only went through one set of lawyer dismissals so far. Maybe they can get their 14 this round and we can all go home (except the selected jurors, of course).



I'm so tired. I got home at around 5:30pm, crashed, and just woke up. I got called up to the jury box at around 4pm and just got through introducing myself before the day ended at 4:30pm. This means I have to be back in the courtroom at 9am tomorrow for more questions from the judge and both lawyers. During my 15 second intro, the judge did ask me whether I knew Bill Ruehle, whose trial just started across the street in Federal Court.

The most frustrating thing for me is the fact that they have to end right at 4:30pm due to budget constraints on overtime. This is California state court so the cost comes out of my state taxes anyway (just raised this year). Instead of having state employees work a bit longer each day (like the rest of us in the private sector), they shift the burden to the taxpayers again by making us go back the next day.

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