They Want Me, They Really Want Me!
2004-11-23, 5:52 p.m.
(Otherwise known as "Jen Does Jury Duty, Day One, Voir Dire, Or However The Hell You Spell That." Naturally, these entries are a bit backdated because I couldn't talk about it until the trial was over.)
Every year, I get called for it. Every goddamned year. And every year, I get closer and closer to having to actually do it. Last year it got canceled at the dead last minute when I arrived at the courthouse. When I got this one, I knew I was going to be stuck on a jury this time, no question. My Time Had Come. God WANTED me on a jury, evidently, since he kept trying so hard. (Or at least the courthouse computers do.)
I warned everyone about this ahead of time. I got a lot of "Poor you" and "Hah hah!!!" at the office, combined with "OHMIGOD, YOU DON'T DRIVE? THAT'S HORRIBLE! YOU SHOULD DRIVE! I WOULD HATE IT IF I COULDN'T DRIVE!" Then I explained why I don't drive and got, "Oh, yeah. You shouldn't drive."
Anyway... to haul ass out to the town where the courthouse is requires me to go on two busses for about an hour total, plus a half hour in between anything starting at the courthouse. This is the bus company where the last time I was on this line, they had to call the cops to break up a gang fight. The town is not *quite* Modesto or East Oakland for scary crazy people on the bus, but it is working on it. Oh, the joys of sitting on the
I did wander around the courthouse area in a desperate search for restaurants since I got there 45 minutes before I was supposed to be there. There's no fast food joints whatsoever (grr- they are going with the Quaint Olde Downtowne Look), but I did manage to find a restaurant I like in Davis that has a clone nearby. Much as I don't like eating in sitdown restaurants All By Myself and annoying the help because I'm All By Myself, having to leave my house at 7 a.m. (plus the aforementioned kitchen situation) isn't going to promote me making home-cooked meals to eat, so I gotta find somewhere. At least there's some shopping in the area, since you get an hour and a half lunch break and I don't enormously want to sit in the cold outside the entire time.
Anyway...eventually hiked the enormous amount of steps (showoffs), set off the metal detector as usual because I'm one of those people who sets the damn things off almost every time I go through, hiked up more steps, and sat around in the jury room for a few hours or so. I got a lot of knitting done, and couldn't help but think, "Ha ha, I'm knitting on work time!." I will have to say for them that they provided a buttload of magazines, free water and a vending machine, so that wasn't too bad. There were maybe 40-45 people in there, for a 12+1 selection. I was probably the youngest girl in the room by far, of course. Gah. I think the youngest guy was a dude I have ended up dubbing Uglier Ashton Kutcher, because he looks like Ashton would were he not a pale prettyboy type and instead was an actual person.
At first the juror-wranglers were all, "Oh, this is only going to take two days, counting today, tra la laaaaa!" Then it was "Okay, it might take till Tuesday." (They skip Mondays for some reason.) Then it was, "Okay, definitely Tuesday, and maybe next Wednesday too if you take a long time at it." Gah. Eventually we got dragged back downstairs into a courtroom. I hid in the back of the pews, hoping I could get in some more knitting time while they did...whatever they do that takes 2+ hours to do, continued.
At that point, they're just trying to weed out those of you in the hot seats. Yay, especially since I had nothing whatsoever to weed me out other than a cop relative, which they didn't care about. A few people got off for not being able to sit for six hours a day without pain, one got off for having issues with regards to the case, one got off for having a set vacation tomorrow (surprise, you CAN get off for that). I did, however, get really fucking annoyed when the judge made everyone go around saying what their jobs were AND "to talk about your family." I'm sorry, but I just don't see why it is appropriate to find out whether or not I have a husband as a method of picking me for a jury WHEN THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT THE CASE IS. I don't want to announce to a room of strangers, "Yes, I'm SINGLE!", especially when (no joke) 95% of the room not only has four children and six grandchildren, but a load of GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN. I'm already due to get nagged by old people I'm related to as to why I'm not married yet for the holidays, I don't need to get it from strangers in the jury room. Naturally, I was the only single female in the room too. I did, however, manage to get out of answering the "tell us about your family" question when they asked what I did and then didn't get what I was talking about, so I had to explain it. The judge plain forgot to nag me about it, yay.
Then after they get through the part of the session where the judge asks you questions, they start the part where the lawyers ask you questions. Then they get to the preemptory challenges, i.e. when either lawyer can pick you off out of the crowd for any reason, including how you sit and your hair color. This part got me both nervous and excited- nervous because being picked out of a crowd is embarrassing, and excited because hey, this is my last chance off! They can just get rid of me at random because I got bored and started staring at the big picture window outside! (Note to designers of the courthouse: large windows in front of the jury? Bad idea.) The prosecution didn't get rid of anybody, but the defense weeded out a preschool teacher, a scientist guy, another scientist guy, a guy who knew one of the people testifying in the case, a guy whose son was a cop, a chick who obviously had known the judge for a long time... but not me. Bleah.