Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jury Duty

Once again, the Superior Court tracked me down and drafted me for service. My initial reaction was the usual - "How can I get out of this?" But my secondary reaction was - "If I'm upset about the state of justice in this country, I should do it."

Back when I worked for a boss I refer to as The Hideous Troll, I was glad that I made the final cut for a jury. It gave me a week away from the office. It also gave me a glimpse into the thought processes of my fellow citizens. That trial ended in a hung jury - 3 to 9 - 3 of us dedicated to upholding a minimal standard for civilization, the rest willing to let it go. Scary. On the other hand - if I'm ever stupid enough to get caught at a crime, I want those people sitting in judgment of me. I know exactly what they'd let me get away with.

The last time I received a summons I had to serve in downtown LA. Now we're only supposed to do one day of service instead of a week. However, following the letter of that law, but not the spirit, at the end of that day, the court impaneled all two hundred people in the room and forced us to come back for two more days of jury selection. If the court itself bends the laws to its own whims, why should it expect me to value the law? It wasn't just me. Every person dragged back the second and third days was pissed off. If I was the defendant, I would have been worried that the jury would take that out on me.

I got lucky that time. I was one of the first twelve pulled into the jury box, so the lawyers had plenty of "without cause" dismissals at hand. I admit that I used every trick I knew to get dismissed, and when I was, I almost did a grand jete on my way out of the court room. Gang related murder trial? No thanks.

This time I vow to be a responsible citizen. If I'm dismissed, it won't be due to my negative body language. My job as an analyst pretty much disqualifies me anyway. No lawyer wants a juror who makes a living looking at evidence, digging under the hyperbole for the truth, and coming to an independent conclusion. If I really wanted to serve, I could tell them that I'm a business manager. I do run the operational side of the company I work for in addition to my analyst duties. But that would be a partial omission and deliberate shading on my part, and sometimes I'm starry-eyed enough to believe that in court truth counts for something.

No comments: