Monday, June 14, 2010

Passing Judgement

I learned last night, much to my shock and dismay, that my presence was requested at the criminal court building in downtown Los Angeles in order to fulfill my civic duty and serve as a juror. My first response is not printable, my second response was "this cannot be happening to me!" My son was due to arrive from Israel in the morning and I would not be there to greet him.

To make matters worse, I was expected to check in at 7:45 AM. On my way there, I bumped into a classmate, who was also on her way to serve. Even thought it seemed like hundreds more would join us, I would not be alone.

We are both slated to start summer school next Monday, so when the presenter at orientation warned us that serving on a jury is a 5 - 7 day commitment, we knew we had to reschedule. When we tried to, the idiots in charge of that assured us that we would have no problem with starting school on time. Later, it was announced that Wednesday is a furlough day and wouldn't count toward the total days served. But it was too late to change our status.

My dear friend and I would either serve our time starting today or be excused for a year. Los Angeles, whatever its faults, adopted the one day/one trial format of jury service, an enlightenment that seems out of place with the pace of the jury selection process. In other words, you could die of old age either waiting to be or once your are selected to be en-paneled - the process is unwieldy and slow.

And chosen we were, for the same trial, with at least 50 other people. Forty-five minutes later, when we actually got into the court room, 22 people were chosen to take their seats in the jury box (needed: 12 jurors and 2 alternates). The judge explained our roles, asked questions (yes, yours truly did answer the big one from the side lines when the 22 couldn't or wouldn't: why can't you talk to the prosecutor or defense lawyer outside the court. Had my juror number noted much to my chagrin) and smiled a lot.

Finally, the defense lawyer started asking the jurors questions. But, thank G-d, before I could observe my July birthday, the judge called it a day and we were free to go, after we agreed to come back tomorrow at 10:30 am.

Creator of the Universe and the only Entity that knows what tomorrow will bring: I trust you. If I get put on that jury, I won't cry. I won't curse. I promise. But You'll owe me big time and I plan to collect!

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