Monday, January 28, 2008

Jury Duty is Relaxing...

This past week or so seems to have flown by in a whirlwind of activity. I was summoned in to jury duty last week and decided that jury duty, as a whole, isn’t half bad. Most of the first day I spent hanging out with my new friend Lorna. We chatted, had lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant, took a walk and bonded over our fondness for swing dancing and and dogs. Lorna is most likely in her late 60's if not into her 70's. We had an incredible amount in common- including the fact that to pass the time I whipped out...wait for it.... my needlepoint. She was, quite possibly, the kind of old lady I would like to be. She was spunky and her eyes sparkled when we talked about traveling, her husband, dancing and trying to train stubborn dogs. If it hadn't been for the dates she talked about (moving to Los Angeles in 1959...etc.) and the subtle shakes she would occasionally get, I would never have guessed her age. By the mid afternoon I was pulled into a courtroom where I was also ordered to report the next day for further jury selection.

The case was a three-count charge: driving under the influence, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher and child endangerment (allegedly there was a child in the car). I thought I was off the hook until I was called into the jury box and asked a wide range of questions regarding my own personal use, views and history with alcohol. I listed my experiences and knew I was off the hook when I went on a mini rant about how irresponsible I think it is to drive under the influence when there is a child in the car. Yes, it's ALWAYS irresponsible to get in a car and drive, but people make mistakes (doesn't mean they shouldn’t be punished for them) and I can see how easy it would be to go to a dinner or a party and think you're fine to drive and you get pulled over for a broken tail light (or something unrelated) and oops you're over the legal limit.... people make mistakes, but there was a baby involved! Not a teenager or just another passenger...a baby! While other potential jurors commented on how seeing the defendant playing with his daughter in the hallway during recess made them sympathetic to him, it made me mad. Even though I know I'm not supposed to assume anything here, based on the charge of driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, I had to assume that the breathalizer read .08 or higher which means the asshat had more than one drink and was like, "hey! i'll put my baby in the car and go for a drive!". His daughter couldn't have been more than a year old and I know I'm supposed to presume this man innocent until he is proven guilty, but please, you took one look at this guy and could tell he did NOT have his shit together. I think my outward display of judgment made me a less than desirable candidate for this trial.

Now I have to say that based on testimonials from friends and coworkers, jury duty is one of the most wretched activities you can be forced to participate in. Sitting in a room filled with a random conglomeration of some of the foulest members of society doesn't sound pleasant to me, but I did actually have quite a nice experience. The jurors at the Hollywood Courhouse with seemed, for the most part, to be fairly normal and pleasant smelling (except for whoever was wearing too much perfume and whoever was burping up bologna). The courthouse was clean and the juror assembly room manager was pleasant, accommodating and, at times, borderline funny. The judge was respectable, articulate and occasionally amusing. If my company would pay for me to serve my country's judicial system I really wouldn't have any qualms with actually being on a jury. I think it might actually be fairly interesting. That said, they don't pay and for me to not have to take any vacation days I had to go into work after serving the full day. Now THAT is unjust.


1 comment:

Dave said...

Unfortunately, jury duty is metted out in such a way that some people get paid to be there while others have to "pay the price for living in a democracy" (that's what a judge told me when I asked to be rescheduled to the month of September, when I'd be paid, rather than serve in August, when I wasn't covered by the school). Until that little "glich" is resolved, serving on a trial will always be an unfair burden on some...