Chaos Attraction

One Angry Veronica

2009-10-02, 3:58 p.m.

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So much for predictions. Or assuming that nobody ever does jury duty twice.

Tuesday:
6:30 a.m.: Wake up too goddamned early.
7: Head to campus to catch intercity bus.
7:30: Catch intercity bus, which tends to have the "special" people (i.e. talkative crazies) on it. Am pleased to see that people are being quiet.
8: Catch bus in county seat. Am on bus with idiots conspicuously hocking loogies in the back. I feel like it's high school all over again, I went to school with a bunch of llamas.

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.
First guy kicked off is #16 next to me, 'cause he doesn't really speak English (when asked if it was his first language, he said "Yes," and we all tried not to laugh), and only the judge can understand what he's saying. I'm sitting NEXT to this dude and can't understand what he's saying. He's the only one who gets dismissed for cause.

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.
Oddly enough, they hardly ask me a darned thing. They ask the lady next to me about being on a jury before and did she like it (she did NOT), they know I've been on one and don't even ask me. I guess I look innocent and trouble-free. I'm the perfect juror.

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.

Wednesday:
5:30 a.m.: Wake up too damn early, an hour before I even NEED to get up, because I keep checking the alarm and once I have less than an hour to sleep I might as well give up. Get up and watch the rest of my Netflix.
7-9: same as yesterday, but nobody does anything disgusting, thank goodness.

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.)
Meanwhile, they don't let me bring scissors in here, which is causing A Problem with my knitting when I can't cut a thread off. Ugh.
I finish reading the book I started on the bus yesterday and start a new one.

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 p.m.: Finish the remainder of book #3, start one of the new books from the thrift store, choose to read that one 'cause it's hardback and thus can be propped open to read at the same time. Book is...very strange. Oh well, that's what happens when most of the good books there I already owned and my pickins were slim.
Now, I actually don't mind jury duty all that much other than the getting up early for the bus and somehow always setting off the metal detectors twice a day, and the skeezy bus people. (And having to sit still and not knit during the boring parts of trial.) It doesn't fuck me up with regards to work, I still get paid anyway, and since I was going to spend this week still waiting for them to fix the computer system, it's not like I was doing anything important instead. So I'm lucky there. Heck, if one could get paid to be a professional juror on a regular basis, I'd probably be good at it.
But it occurs to me that the one thing about jury duty that is so annoying is that for most of a week or whatever, you are not in control of your life, Johnny Law is. You didn't do a darned thing except exist, but they can pull you in at any time and fuck with your job (in the case of the moms in particular) and make you wait around wasting 90% of the day in the jury room like YOU'RE the criminal, rather than (theoretically) the most powerful group in the room. That is just weird.

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.
Apparently the lawyers somehow aren't ready to make their final arguments. Um, didn't they know they were supposed to do that today? They debate whether or not to let us leave by 3:30 today after hearing the jury instructions. They decide they don't want to debate this in front of us, and we get booted out of the room a mere seven minutes into BEING in the room. Judge says we get a "well-deserved" break. But only for 7 1/2 minutes!

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.
3:35 p.m.: We get called back in. We get given instructions. It takes a reaaaaaallllllly long time.
4:15 p.m.: We get to leave. Happily, one of the lawyers has something or other to do tomorrow morning, so we get to arrive an hour later tomorrow. Which means that I get to sleep in a half hour LATER than my usual work schedule, and an hour later than I get to do on jury duty bus schedule. Happily, a bus shows up just as I get out, and the crazies on the bus mostly stay quiet and keep to themselves. I read new book #2 instead on the bus (seeing as it's paperback and short) and finish it by the time I get home.

Books finished during the day: 4, am halfway through a fifth.

Thursday:
6:30 a.m.: Despite being allowed to sleep IN today, I wake up at this time ANYWAY. Argh.
8:30-9:30: bus again.
10:15: get loaded into the courtroom. I was figuring they'd do this around 10:45 or so (we had to be here by 9:50), so that's speedier than usual.

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).

Friday:
So, it turns out I didn't miss much at work. EVERYONE in my corner was gone at the same time I was, and the tech people decided to upgrade the computer system on Wednesday and said "don't do any work until we're done."
They're still not done :P


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