By Jennifer Gardner
I’m serving jury duty today. Criminal Courts Building, Downtown Los Angeles. I did not have time to do the on-line orientation over the weekend because I worked continuously on a decision that I had to file with the Civil Service Commission on Monday morning. So, I showed up late Monday morning (at 9:15 instead of 8:30 am) and was told that I could not start on Monday – I could not even do the training, rather, I had to report the next day at 8am and do the training at the courthouse. Then, I will have to stay there until between 4 pm and 5 pm to see if I am called to be on an actual jury panel.
I can not do this today. But I can not do this in October either, which is when they told me that I could come back if I really must need to. Next Monday, I begin a preliminary hearing in a homicide case, and my client is not waiving time. In October, that very same case will probably be going to trial. So, today I can not get on a jury and risk being stuck on a case that might not finish on time for me to be at the preliminary hearing, and I can not agree to show up three months from now either.
I’m sure that I’m not the only one who is gravely inconvenienced by having to be here.
I love to try cases. I was born to try cases. But this headache is giving me a whole new appreciation for the mental state of the 12 jurors who often decide our client’s fate. What the judges all tell us when we tell them that we haven’t settled is that when you go to trial, you are now giving up control of your life to 12 very angry, stressed out, people sitting in the jury box. Now I really get it. Suddenly, that whole idea (of trial by jury) no longer seems so romantic now that I have hands-on insight into the mindset of our reluctant citizens who are serving on juries (in most cases) against their will.