So I'm on jury duty right now. Yes, I realize how ironic this is, considering that my last name is Jury... OK, perhaps "ironic" isn't the word. Perhaps "stupid" is. In any case, it might explain why this is the first time I've ever been called, despite my being almost 30. Maybe they think I'm making up a fake name just to screw with them and have no respect for our country's legal system.
For anyone who's never done Jury duty, here's basically what's involved:
- Show up super early in the morning.
- Sit there all day and do nothing.
- Go home.
I wish I was exaggerating. Of the roughly 200 people that gathered with my in the LA Downtown Court Building's Jury assembly room this morning, only five of them have so far even called to set foot in a court room, I guess interview for a couple alternate spots on an existing Jury, before most of them are probably sent home. The other 195 of us have just been sitting here for 7 hours, waiting for our names to be called, or to be told we can go home.
Some highlights, so far:
PHASE 1 (8am) - Some guy comes out and explains that there aren't many excuses for getting out of jury duty. People ask questions like "But what if I have to take care of a sick pet?"
PHASE 2 (9am) - Another guy comes ouut and explains that there aren't many excuses for getting jury duty postponed. People ask questions like "But what if I have a vacation to the Bahamas scheduled for next week?"
PHASE 3 (9:30am) - A judge comes out and gives us a pep talk about the importance of jury duty. This is actually the highlight so far, except he does a lot of bad court-humor. "I hope this day doesn't turn out to be too much of a trial for you." Hahahabullet to the head.
PHASE 4 (10am) - A lady comes out and tells us, no seriously, there are very few excuses for getting out of having jury duty postponed. She's a very nice lady, but I really wish she'd stop saying things like "the 5th floor is mostly misdemeanors, so it's a pretty good place to be if you wanna be on a short trial!" Lady, if I had any control over anything going on today, do you think I would be here right now?
PHASE 5 - We wait to be called. Nobody is, except those 5 people. I fall asleep for a while.
PHASE 6 (noon) - Lunch. We get an 1.5 hours for lunch, which is a relief because I sure need a break after doing nothing all morning.
PHASE 7 - More waiting. The guy next to me is watching Starship Troopers on his laptop, so I sort of creepily watch over his shoulder and enjoy myself.
And, as of 3pm, that's all so far.
I wish Starship Troopers was a 4-hour movie. Now, more than ever.
OK, so the second I posted that, they announce a call for jurors for an 18-day trial. Unless, of course, you meet one of 7 disqualifying conditions, including, but not limited to: having to care for children, being unemployed and looking for work, having a medical appointment in the next three weeks, having a non-refundable vacation scheduled, etc. I happen to be preemptively exempt because my "employer" doesn't pay me for Jury duty that long. God bless being self-employed:)
Oh, and so much for "there aren't many ways to get out of jury duty."
OK, and now they just called 55 more people for a different jury. I guess nothing really happens around here until 3pm. Thankfully I was not one of them - I think the lady in the booth is just too shy to read "jury member Jury, please step forward.
Alright, 4:01pm, and I'm out of here. They never called me, though I was kind of starting to hope they would, just so everyone could have a good laugh at my name. It would probably be the most exciting thing that ever happened to it.
A FEW THINGS I LEARNED: - Although I was not particularly pumped about spending 18 days on a jury, not everyone agrees with me. Of the 100 or so people who ended up getting called, most of them didn't seem too begrudging, and some of them actually seemed kind of pumped. I suppose if you don't really like your other job, and they're going to pay you endlessly to hang out on a jury... spending your days in an air-conditioned lunch rooms with 1.5 hour lunches isn't such a bad option.
- Not to mention, the court pays you a whopping $15 for each day you serve! Which is like overtime, if your other job is paying you too. Of course, if it's NOT paying me, as would have been my case, $15 is just enough to cover lunch and gas for the hour commute. Oh, except you don't get $15 the first day, so it doesn't quite cover my lunch and gas after all.
- As much as all I've done is bitch about jury duty in this post, believe it or not, it isn't that bad. Sitting in a room for 9 hours only sucks when you didn't bring your laptop and 2 books, like I did. I got a ton of work done, and I probably just would have sat in my room and done the same thing anyway, except with the added distraction of Stumbleupon. And also, I wouldn't have been doing my civic duty.
Because I am a great American.