Monday, December 05, 2011

call of jury duty: a non-live live blogcast

Right now I’m sitting in the Clara J. Something Criminal Justice Center downtown. I feel about jury duty the way I felt about wearing our drill team uniforms to school in tenth grade. I know you’re supposed to hate it and complain, but secretly I think it’s kind of cool. It’s a change of scene, a day off work and a great chance to people-watch. Examples: woman wearing houndstooth pants and matching houndstooth shoes…and…well, actually, most of the people around me look pretty normal. That means nothing, of course, but they could conceivably be a jury of my peers.

Now a guy is guiding us through the juror questionnaire: “Where it says ‘number of people in your household,’ Ima ask you to go ahead and write how many people are in your household.”

I almost never have the urge to Tweet, but now that I’m trapped in a room without internet access, I do. So I think I’ll periodically log into this notebook (not a notebook computer, an actual paper notebook) and type it up later.

8:12 a.m. JUROR: “What if you’re a student and have a final today?”

JURY INSTRUCTOR GUY: “You need to postpone, dude. Your finals are important.”

8:23 a.m. Just learned they only do criminal cases here. The judge who’s speaking says, “Criminal cases are much more interesting, and shorter. You won’t end up on some long asbestos case.” Last time I was on jury duty, I got assigned to the case of a guy named Bruce Bible who was accused of running a crack house. They ended up settling before opening arguments, but I agree with the judge when she says, “People get into it, as we used to say in the seventies.” (???)

8:30 a.m. Jury instructor guy is back. He just referred to “the section where you write down if, you know, you’re deceased or something.”

8:41 a.m. They have W and Vanity Fair in the jury room. The chances of me finishing our book club book just went way down.

8:56 a.m. Raiders, Lakers and Dodgers jerseys aren’t allowed in court. This morning on the Red Line a guy was wearing an L.A. Rams jacket. I wonder where the court stands on vintage Rams wear.

9:22 a.m. Sometimes when I encounter expensive things that are not quite my taste, I play a game in my head called “But If Someone Gave It To Me For Free, Would I Keep It?” Just so you know, I would keep Prada’s coral-rose and crystal bracelets.

10:36 a.m. A woman is showing her friend an 8” x 10” photo of a horse wearing a large, feminine straw hat. I have so many questions! 1) How do they already know each other? Can you schedule jury duty with your friends? 2) The obvious question.

11:09 a.m. I just read an article about Justin Bieber. Anything to stay awake. For the record, I don’t think lesbians who look like him are all that cute.

11:45 a.m. Fifteen minutes till lunch. The vending machines in the jury room are plastered with signs advertising the courthouse cafeterias on the fifth and thirteenth floors. They’re like, “Look, we know you’re not really into Famous Amos cookies.” I already ate the mealy apple I brought with me. Blech. It better have been full of fiber and vitamins.

11:53 a.m. Things people are reading: a biography of Cleopatra, a book open to a chapter called “Starting a New Life,” Makeup Artist Magazine, newspapers, tablets, phones.

11:55 a.m. Despite the highly advertised fifth and thirteenth floor cafeterias, I’m going out. There are so many good places to eat downtown. Maybe I’ll have one giant Big Man cupcake.

1:07 p.m. Eating yaki saba bento from Marukai, which, okay, is like a Japanese cafeteria. But so yummy. I didn’t know what all the names of the bento combos meant, so I read the ingredients. They included equally mysterious items like “wiener” and “croquette.”

1:19 p.m. Jury duty spawns ad hoc, half-assed solidarity. We’re all in this together! Or at least you probably won’t steal my bag while I’m in the bathroom. That might just be because we’re all non-felons, though.

1:30 p.m. Security guy working the metal detector, while scanning the metal studs on my jeans: “Women these days! They can’t just be simple. Why they gotta be all complicated?”

1:42 p.m. The cop seated next to me is talking about a Bill O’Reilly book: “There’s no political slant in this one. It’s pretty much just historical facts.” I am not feeling solidarity. Neither is the guy next to the cop, a man in his sixties with a dapper messenger bag. When the cop says, “He makes a lot of sense,” the messenger bag guy says, “Well…not always. But who does?”

And then I was called into a case. The judge told us to quit our whining re: civic duty and proceeded to read an obituary of a soldier who’d died in Afghanistan. I have to admit it was effective. And from there the day took a bit of a sober turn, as he read the charges against the defendant and I remembered that not everyone was in court to read W.


raardvarks said...

Faith in humanity is now down to 0. Bill doesn't slant, that's for sure!

And thanks for the comment about comments. I tried to respond, but either blogger is glitching or I really don't know how to work the internet, ha!

Cheryl said...

Bill is very fair and balanced. In fact, I'm sure he'd make an excellent juror, except for the fact that he probably doesn't even believe in trial by jury in his utopian dictatorship.