One Angry Veronica
2009-10-02, 3:58 p.m.
So much for predictions. Or assuming that nobody ever does jury duty twice.
8:30: Arrive at courthouse. Sit around reading and knitting. I brought my last research book from the library, and bought three new books awhile back (which I saved to read for this special occasion), so I can catch up on my reading, at least. For those of you unaware of this fact, I am a speed reader.
9-something to 10-something: Jury orientation. Plusses: if you are a student, teacher, or medical professional, they will make nice allowances for you, you get free bus passes, and theoretically someday (but not NOW, mind you) they will pull you out of the jury pool for 18 months if you have to actually be on a jury. Minusses: if you work for the state, Ahnuld does not let you get paid $15 a day. Bastard. Okay, if I were him I'd cut that too, but I always considered that fair pay for like, lunch. I count noses and notice that 53 people were called in this pool. All showed up.
10-something-12:10: voir dire. They call out for 18 people, I'm called at #15. Theoretically I could JUST miss the jury if the lawyers don't kick anybody out.
Also getting the boot is the gang-banger guy at #17, who's got all his tats, just got laid off from a job placement program (oh, the irony), and goes on at great length about how he automatically hates all cops and how his girlfriend recently assaulted some. I'm thinking, "For the love of god, do not let this dude on a jury." The judge doesn't let him off with cause, but he gets dismissed via one of the lawyers' dismissal passes (um, whatever you call those).
Unfortunately for me, like six people have hunting licenses and one chick actually works with one of the lawyers, so they all get dismissed and guess who's on the jury? Yup. DAMMIT, I was looking forward to getting out early.
For the record: they went through 30 people to get 14 for the jury/alternates. So just to let you know: anyone who gets called into the six extra seats? Odds are you ARE making the jury unless you're person #30.
The judge is very snarky and I find this entertaining. Did I have this guy five years ago?
Lunch: I go shopping. Most of the stores I want to go into are closed during lunch (when they're supposed to be open), wtf? I end up buying a bag of beads at a store that's getting rid of them.
1:30-4:30: actual trial begins. For the record: it involves poachers and a high-speed chase and K-9's having to bite people. This is so much more entertaining than my last case. Yay for drawing a criminal case, civil is probably a lot duller. I am all excited about the high-speed chase part, since we get to see TWO videos of this from sheriff's cars. The videos aren't quite as exciting as one would hope since this chase went on at midnight and it's too dark to see much other than the fact that the cars are going very fast. You can see a wee bit of the actual dudes being chased on foot, but that's it. Mostly we have a bunch of law officials (a LOT were chasing these guys) testifying. Judge advises us to bring two books and a lot of coffee for tomorrow. Little do any of us know exactly how much he meant that.
4:30: catch bus #1 to transfer, followed by bus #2 to get home. Thankfully this is relatively uneventful, quiet, and loogies are not involved. Get home at 5:30 and VEG.
Books finished today: 2, am halfway through a third.
9-10:45 a.m.: Seriously just SIT AROUND WAITING while "something came up." We actually got booted out of the jury room at 9 so they could do orientation, and only once in a while does the bailiff come by to say, "Um, sorry." The jury services lady is quite nice and makes some phone calls when she notices how long we've been out here. The two chicks with small babies at home both had their child care bail out on them for tomorrow and want to talk to the judge about this. They are not allowed to, I gather the bailiff was all, "Too bad, you have to come anyway." The moms are all, "Well, gee, I guess we're bringing the babies here then, 'cause we don't have any other option." I would be amused to see what happens there. (This doesn't happen.)
10:45-11:35 a.m.: Actual court case. We see two guys testify about like, one thing apiece. A third guy gets to talk a bit. We watch high-speed chase video #2. A fourth guy gets called to the stand, then the lawyers object to THAT and we get sent out of the room "for ten minutes." I am freaking STARVING and eat the entire lunch I brought in that time and am still hungry.
11:50 a.m.: "Uh, you can go to lunch now." I run off to Steve's Pizza and order breadsticks. And eat like seven out of twelve of them before getting full. One of the lawyers shows up in there later and sees me. Awk-ward. Probably happens all the time though, given how many lawyers I saw in there (besides the ones on mine). I finish the new book, realize that the third of three books I brought to read I started awhile back and left off around page 150, and I will be OUT OF BOOKS TO READ very soon, and it'll probably be a long-ass afternoon followed by a long-ass bus ride. I run to the thrift store across the street and pick up three books, which cost me a mere $2. Sweet.
1:30 p.m.: Am supposed to be back by now.
2:15 p.m.: Jury services lady is all, "You're still here?" Yup. She calls. Apparently the judge's other case that he's multi-tasking had the verdict come in. I seriously wonder if we are going to have to come back here on Friday when they promised it was a 2-day case. (Note that they told us yesterday we were probably hitting the jury room after lunch. Hah.) The moms may have a cow over that one.
2:35: We finally get to go back into the jury room. I end up flashing my ass to the defendants and lawyers (um, low-rider pants plus no belt due to metal detectors = I don't even wanna know what they saw) when I have to bend over and shove my backpack out of the way. CLASS-AY. One guy gets asked a question and THAT'S IT.
2:45: We walk out of the room. The metal detector guys are flabbergasted to see us again. "We got kicked out after five minutes!" one chick yells and they yell back, "Good job!" I get really comfortable and don't plan on getting up any time soon. And make comments about how jury duty is like construction: always takes three times longer than anyone says it's going to.
Books finished during the day: 4, am halfway through a fifth.
Final arguments are kind of a hoot. The prosecution USES POWER POINT. Seriously. Had NO idea court trials got this geeky any more. He does a pretty good job, mostly lays out the piles and piles of evidence and whatnot. At one point he makes a remark along the lines of "I kinda knew where this was going," and I think, "Well, I certainly HOPE you knew where it was going ahead of time."
The defense lawyers, on the other hand, do not do so well. Now, to be fair, these guys really, really didn't give them much to work with at all. But the theories they floated, well, I was trying my hardest not to crack up laughing. Dear god, that was hard.
Lawyer #1 insists on using a podium to speak from (the other guys don't). He doesn't even bother to try to claim his client didn't do most of the charges. There's one charge that's somewhat debatable as to whether or not his client can be proven to do it (which is to say, the prosecution could have used another witness on that for verification, in the jury's opinion. Told him that afterwards and he said he thought they didn't need it), so at the last minute he floats the "The other guy who's NOT my client did it!" theory. The jury was all, "Um, why are you only mentioning this at the last minute? I also can't help but wonder how the other side of the defense felt about that. He also insists that his client is a "follower" (hm, insult much?) and claims that since he didn't hit anybody with his car, he's an excellent driver, check out his reflexes! Um, what? He also actually says "My bad!" after finally realizing that yes, there were other cars on the road at the time of the HSC.
Lawyer #2 claims that maybe his client and the other guy don't even know each other, and his client just HAPPENED to be hanging around in a deserted area at midnight (hiding in shrubbery?) at the time. What, was he out jogging?
After lunch starts the deliberations. I end up being foreperson since I've been on a jury before. I suddenly feel like I'm Veronica Mars being handed the job so she could have a learning experience. Oh well, I pretty much knew it was going there anyway.
Everyone votes guilty on all but one charge, as the aforementioned "um, you needed one more witness" problem comes up there. We make the bailiff drop off a laptop so we can watch the HSC videos over and over again, and try to freeze-frame the thing. You really can't see much. I call in the court reporter to read back the relevant interview, which pretty much clarifies the "yup, we think that's beyond a reasonable doubt here" question now that we can pay attention to the actual words without lawyer #1 yammering. I also go peek at her laptop to see how it's done. Oh, geekery.
I have to sign all of the charges as foreperson, hand them off to the bailiff, and very soberly say that yes, we did vote that way multiple times to the judge. I don't look at anyone else in the room, 'cause man, I don't wanna know. Clearly, they ah, very obviously crapped up and we'd have to have been drooling morons to not realize that one. But all things considered, well, I didn't stick around to see the sentencing (not sure if they do that right after or not anyway).