Jury Duty

The past 2 weeks I had been on jury duty.  On Monday, September 10, I was called to go to downtown LA to serve.  Now, I've never actually been called in before.  I've gotten summons maybe 3 times, but this is the first time that I actually had been called in.  Was I looking forward to it?  No.  Waste of time.  After serving on the jury as an alternate, I now know the one thing that can bind human beings together.  Whether you're old or young.  Black or white.  Male or female.  Mankind's disdain for jury duty brings everyone together.

So I get to the courthouse, and we sit in this big jury assembly room.  I, of course, get called into the very first group to go on a case.  They were telling us about the 9th floor, the high security floor.  To get in the courthouse, you have to go through a security checkpoint, similar to an airport.  But on the 9th floor, that's the high security floor.  There's another checkpoint there that you have to go through.  So our first group gets called and they tell us that we're to go to department 110 on the 9th floor…   Oooh…  A juicy case.  (Now I've always said that if I'm going to serve on jury duty, at least give me a juicy case.  Murder, Rape.  Something to talk about.  None of this civil stuff.)

We go to the 9th floor and wait out in the hallway.  After 15 minutes, they call us in to the courtoom.  I have no idea what to expect or do, since this is my first time.  But we go in and it's empty except for the judge and bailiff.  I sit down and look at the judge.  It's some Asian dude.  And then I look at his name.

Ito.  Judge Lance Ito.

No way!!!  I'm in Judge Ito's courtroom.  I was tempted to yell out "if the glove don't fit, you must acquit."

He goes on to tell us that he's sorry for bringing us down, but the jury selection had finished 20 minutes ago.  He continues to tell us that this would have been an 8 week murder trial.  Yikes.  I'm glad I didn't get on this jury.  But at least I got to see Judge Ito.  THE highlight of my day, if not the whole jury duty process.

At 4pm, if we're still in the jury assembly room, we're free to go and our jury service will have been completed.  So I get back to the jury room at 10:30am.  I sit and play my DS til noon, where we have a hour and a half lunch break.  At 1:30pm, I get back and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  2pm passes by.  2:30pm comes and goes.  3pm and we're almost home free.  3:15 announcement.  At that point I knew I was getting called in.   I started packing my things before my name even got called.

45 minutes and I would have been done.  But no.  I have to get on the case that takes 7 days at the courthouse, when this thing should have been done in 3 or 4 days, tops.

I know there are some of you out there who like our jury system and actually do think it's a "privilege" to serve on jury duty.  That probably means you're either unemployed, retired, or just plain like wasting lots of time. 

I'll be honest.  I enjoyed my time at jury duty.  But that's something I never want to do again.  Like almost all things in government, jury duty and trial are terribly inefficient.  I spend 3 hours commuting each day to spend 5 to 7 hours in our around the courthouse.  Of those 5 to 7 hours, we may spend 3 hours, 3 and a half if you're lucky, in the courtroom.  I spend almost more time driving every day than I do in the courtroom.  And when I actually arrive, I spend half my time there doing nothing productive.

Judge Ito was telling us that they send out 3 million jury summons a year for the downtown LA courts.  There are about 7000 trials every year.  So that equates to about 100000 jurors selected a year.  Judge Ito was highlighting that fact that it's hard to get selected, so we all served the chances to get selected are slim.  Now to me, that just even further highlights the waste that we put into this system.  Postage alone will be a ridiculous amount.  But that means 100000 people serve out of 3 million summoned.  Just have a 3% chance to get selected.  97% chance to not get selected.  That means 97% of people or 2.9 million people every year have their times wasted at the courthouse.

Jury selection took our trial 4 days.  4 days.  Half the people there were obviously not going to be kept on the jury.  But why make them wait 4 days to get booted?  Well you have to interview them in order obviously.  One at a time, we all get interviewed until the jury is selected.  That means if you're juror 59 out of 67, you have to wait.  And wait.  And wait until everyone before has been interviewed already.

I can go on and on about this.  I hate jury duty.  I hate it even more now than I did before.  The only thing that I actually enjoyed were the other jurors.  Sharing in the pain. 

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