Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Jury Duty.

This was my first time to go for jury duty, so I wasn't sure what to expect. We weren't allowed to take pictures, so you'll have to see it in your mind's eye.

First of all, I took the subway -- Yes! The L.A. Subway! -- to the Civic Center station and found the courthouse. I was about 45 minutes early, which suited me just fine, except for the fact that the waiting benches were concrete and I have no butt. So I folded up my hoodie and used it for a cushion.

Then, we were escorted into the jury room. There were probably a couple of hundred of us.

The first thing they announced was that there was a new law on the books called "One Day." Rather than having to be called every day for a week, we were given one day in the jury room. And if we weren't selected to be on a jury, then our duty would be over for a year. This was great! Orientation was boring, but short.

I found a chair next to a table, folded up my hoodie for a pillow and went promptly to sleep. All during the day, groups of 20 or so got called into chambers. My turn finally came about 3:30. We were directed to a courtroom where there was a civil case going on. Some guy got supposedly beat up by security guards at a nightclub and he was suing the nightclub.

We were clearly the second group of juror prospects because they had already chosen 10.

The courtroom was smallish. The judge seemed like a nice guy, a bit nebbishy. But I took one look at the plaintiff and immediately disliked him. I couldn't put my finger on why. There was just something about him that said "sneaky" and I wondered if, during questioning, whether I should admit this. In fact, the attorney said we should examine whether we could be fair if we that were true.

I opted for not mentioning it because it just seemed irrational. I wasn't necessarily trying to get out of jury duty, btw. In fact, I was interested in the process.

But then the plaintiff's attorney asked if we "believed in psychology." (I'm guessing he was ferreting out Scientologists, which are quite numerous here in Los Angeles. Scientology is currently waging a war against psychologists and psychiatry since they believe all our "bad thoughts" are the result of aliens called Thetans living inside of us -- or something.)

Then he asked if we had a problem with awarding damages for "psychological damage." He said, in fact, that his client admitted he should have been expelled from this nightclub. But that the method used by the guards was wrong.

Now, it's not that I don't believe that people can be psychologically damaged, but there was something about this that didn't set right. Damaged like he was afraid to go into a bar and get drunk now? So, I raised my hand and said, "I can understand a broken bone and awarding medical damages, but how do you quantify psychological damage done to someone who was drunk?"

They dismissed me.

1 comment:

Bev Sykes said...

I was called to jury duty and 5 minutes after I called to see if I was really needed, they changed the recording that we weren't needed until the next day. Well, I showed up at the courthouse and they gave me the option of going home and coming back the next day or joining the panel that HAD been called. I figured my chances of being dismissed were greater with a larger pool, so I went into the exiting pool just 10 minutes before they dismissed us! Duty completed for the year. Yippee!