Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Court News

Yep, I went down to the court for jury duty today.

The jury parking lot was full, so I had to park in the overflow lot. It was not easy to find. The court gave us a little map of the area, showing the two parking lots, but the streets are nearly all one-way streets, and every time I'd turn a corner, I'd have to reorient the map. The problem with that was that the street signs would tell me which street I was crossing or turning onto but not the street I was on. Of course, there was nowhere to pull over and figure it out either. So around and around I went for about ten minutes before I finally figured it out.

After a four block trek from the parking lot, I reached the courthouse and didn't have too much trouble with security, although they DID run my purse through the x-ray machine twice. Sheesh! Then up to the third floor, where I found a sign posted on the courtroom door directing me back down to the first floor--the crowd I'd noticed by the security area when I came in were my fellow jurors.

After standing in line a few minutes, I noticed everyone had their juror badges clipped on, so I headed back up to the second floor to pick up a badge holder from the jury waiting room and then went back down to the first floor where we all waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally the bailiff came out and ushered us into a small antechamber and hallway where she conducted roll call. There were about 100 of us. The high temperature in Sacramento today was a bit over 80 degrees. The air conditioning in the hallway, antechamber, and courtroom was malfunctioning, although we were assured maintenance was taking care of the problem. And eventually they did.

We were to arrive at the courthouse at 9 a.m., but it was around 10:15 a.m. before we were allowed into the courtroom. The first 18 prospective jurors were seated, and questioning by the judge began.

I won't go over the rest of the day in detail, but there followed a morning break, an hour and a half lunch break, and another break in the afternoon. At the conclusion of each break, there was a delay before we were brought back into the courtroom, usually between 15 minutes and a half hour. By around 4 p.m., the court finished with the first 18 prospective jurors, dismissed 7, and called 7 new prospective jurors up to the box to began the questioning. At the end of the day, I was still sitting in the "audience" section with the jury not yet selected. Needless to say, I go back again tomorrow at 9 a.m. for more fun.

Seriously, it wasn't bad though. Other than the standing and waiting, it was a WHOLE lot less stressful than going into the office. And listening to the judge and attorneys question prospective jurors about their lives was kind of interesting. It seems that just about everyone is closely related to someone in law enforcement AND just about everyone is closely related to someone who has been arrested and/or convicted of a crime. Go figure! One juror's mother, brother, and sister had all been arrested at one time or another for driving under the influence of alcohol, and I believe the juror's father is a retired highway patrol officer. Most of the questioning, in fact, focused on (1) relationships with people in law enforcement and (2) prior experiences with crime.

The judge asked one juror to tell him about the time her sister was car jacked. As she related the story, the sister was stopped at a stop light when a man approached, showed her a gun, and told her to get out of her car. She promptly complied. The judge then asked whether the sister ever recovered her property. "Yes," the juror said, "the man got in the car and couldn't drive a stick shift, so he got back out again and ran off." Well, as you can imagine, we all had a good laugh at that one!

Oh, and did I mention? The defense attorney had really excellent shoes! (Yes, the defendant has a female attorney.) I think I might be biased as a result of good taste in footwear, but how do you bring that up during juror questioning? Well, maybe they'll select a jury before they call me up there to answer questions and I won't have to wrestle with my conscience. Or maybe the prosecution will have better shoes tomorrow, although the prosecutor is a man, so I kind of doubt that.

Well, enough chit chat. Time to get to sleep, because I have to be back in court in the morning. Thanks for stopping by!

7 comments:

Judy said...

It took ALL DAY? to talk to 18 people? Geez Louise do they know how to make something too hard. It's always the waiting that gets things messed up.

Sinta said...

Loved your recap of the day! I had gone to stenography school. I always thought it would be fun to listen to all of the stories.

Tracey in CT said...

WOW Hearing this makes me thankful that here in CT we have ONE DAY Jury Service. You are called for one day. You phone in the night before and you are told that either you need to show up the next day or you are excused. Then if you have to show up the next day, you go in. If they don't place you on a jury by the end of that day, you are excused for the next three years. There is none of this interrupting your life for weeks at a time unless you are placed on the jury.

Gran said...

Up, down, back and forth, hurry up and wait, and fashion watch to boot... - OK, were you able to do any hand stitching? I am kind of interested to know what you did on your hour and a half lunch break? All my best for tomorrow.

AND, thank you for doing your patriotic duty - you and a fine example to us all. ;0)

Hugs

Amanda said...

Thanks for the good lauch before I go to bed! I'm afraid the good shoes would sway my decision, too. lol

Cheryl said...

Quite the day you had...but good shoes to look at..nice!!!! I enjoyed reading about your girl and her band. One day we can all say we remember that band and reading about them on the blogs!!!!

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

Concernedly entertaining...if that is a statement!! Blows your mind what all this is costing the Govt and the legal world...and the defendant..and all of you!! But i know "due process' and all of that...but still!!!
Hope you can sew at the same time or I'd be going nutty!
PS LOVED the catch up on wild child...I love her, is the dog and man still in the picture (in that order??) or did I miss an update somewhere??
Love Tracey