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On Friday, for the first time, I participated in jury service. It was a strange experience. Here is my rambling commentary on it.
In California, when you get a jury summons you have to call in every day for a certain week to see if you have to serve that day. My service was not requested on Monday through Thursday, but on Friday they called me in. (This was irritating because I had off work on Friday.)
I seriously considered not showing up and letting them reschedule me, so I could get a day off work next time I was called. But in the end I decided to go and get it over with. Also, I figured that it was possible I'd be selected for a trial and I'd get to miss some days the following week. (Things are slow-going at work right now; it'd be a good time to serve.)
The courthouse was located in Compton. Yes, the same Compton that has a reputation for being a gang-infested ghetto. I was a little nervous to drive there, and I was surprised that it was quite a nice looking city from the ground (even by LA standards), and there wasn't even much tagging. (Except for the courthouse itself; even though all the graffiti was painted over when I went, you could see that it had been heavily tagged. That's probably because it's a prime target for rebellious youths.)
The Compton Courthouse, surprisingly, had a reputation for being the best place in LA to serve as a juror, since the waiting room is large, clean, and comfortable, and I'd have to agree. I got there and got some work done on my laptop, before being called up to my first jury selection.
Then the strangest thing of all happened: the judge straightaway sent us home, telling us to come back on Monday. This was actually quite a good thing for three reasons. First, we got to go home at 10:30. Second, we don't have to participate in any other jury selections; if we aren't selected for this trial we are done. Finally, even if we are selected, it's going to be a relatively short trial.
And, no matter what happens, I will get at least one day off work.
After being sent away, I took advantage of the location to stop by the Ikea that was in nearby Carson, and got a bunch of needed housewares. So all in all, I'd have to say my first jury experience was pretty good.
Update, July 29:
The trial is over, finally.
I was selected as the alternate juror. The trial only took four days, as the judge said, but it could have been three if the jury didn't need extra time to deliberate, before the judge declared a hung jury. Driving or taking the train from Santa Monica to Compton every morning (20 miles) got on my nerves: and that was a trip with almost no traffic. People in LA who do that every working day (let alone those who do it in traffic) are nuts.
I won't share my opinion on the case (apart from agreement that it was close and I can totally understand the hung jury) but it was an interesting trial in that one of the jurors had a son who was a reserve in the NFL, one of the witnesses was a retired NBA player, and incident happened in the soccer stadium.
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