Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jury Duty

I was recently summoned to serve jury duty for the Federal Court in Santa Ana. I usually feel a sense of duty to serve, though I was not overly thrilled with this case. I had been summoned to serve in our local Superior Court in the last year, but that service would not get you excused from this summons unless you had actually served as a juror in a trial. While I have been summoned numerous times over the years, I have not actually served on a trial for at least 15 years, and probably more than that. I'd actually enjoy sitting on a case if it was expected to last several weeks.

The summons indicated that the case could last 4 to 6 months. Since my employer gives me full wages while I serve, I expect I am rather appealing to the court. I have a lot of projects at work right now, and knew that taking that time away would significantly stall and probably kill several of them.

The first day in court involved a number of administrative type tasks. They checked me in. The judge then spent some time talking about duty, how the selection process would be handled, that we should avoid news sources that might give information about the trial with possible biased oppinions and that we were NOT to talk to anyone about the details of the trial so as to avoid outside influence before reaching a verdict. The prosecuting attorneys then read the indictment to the jury assembly room. The indictment included well over 300 charges against approximately 8 defendants. While I didn't count them, there were probably somewhere around 500 charges. It took 3 hours to read. I think I only nodded off twice. We then completed a lengthy questionnaire of about 10 pages with many written answers.

I was hoping that my answers on the questionnaire would get me dismissed without having to return to the court - they usually do, though I have nothing bad to report. But, there I was again, sitting in the assembly room. We were informed several times that the court needed various recesses during the day, and we were never called in to begin the actual juror selection process. I made a lot of headway on a book I had bought to occupy my time. Finally, at the end of the day we were informed that all of the defendants has submitted plea bargains. Once the judge had accepted all of them, he was then free to dismiss all the jurors in the assembly room.

While I am now at liberty to discuss the details of the case, I expect it is probably best I not share them here. The judge was very congenial and thanked us each personally for coming in to serve. He indicated that over 9000 summons had been issued to come up with the jury pool of about 160 potential jurors. He also indicated that our presense directly impacted the defendants as the prospect of a trail became emminent. He assured us that our time had been well spent. I am glad that I had a chance to serve, but I am equally glad that I did not have to spend 6 months on the trial with the impact I expected with my work.


The Muse said...

I applaud you for your service (although I do understand the aspects of time relationships ...)

Perhaps after the trial is can blog more about it.
However..I like this post as it gives us great insight to your mindset...

Nice post!

The Muse said...

dropping in to say hello...
Blessings to you and yours!

The Muse said...

Howdy!! :)