From the Bowels of Jury Duty

Updated: Aug 31, 2011 09:20
The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

I have recently returned from a voyage through time and space. Or at least what felt like it. For the past three weeks, mentally, I have been trapped in a world revolving around 850 Bryant. And during regular business hours, physically, that’s where you’d have found me. I learned first hand that my previous romantic vision for the exciting thriller my life would become was a little far from reality. My reality instead involved sore legs from sitting all day, lots of unfinished crossword puzzles from frequent breaks, and wanting to go to bed for the night at 5pm every day. Que romantica.

I was Juror # 11 for a criminal case for the State of California, Superior Court. Charges included attempted murder. After four and a half days of being locked in a windowless room, deliberating, we ended up being a hung jury for all counts. We weren’t allowed to talk about it with the outside world, and with other jurors, only when we all were in the same jury room. The Judge mentioned a case that was in appeals because a juror sent a message to her friend about the case being boring. Not sure if this is the one, but it put the fear in me. I am allowed to talk about it now but it still makes me nervous. I have always been afraid of authority.

One really interesting thing which I didn’t realize happened, and apparently some Judges embrace it more than others, is the fact that members of the jury can ask questions during the trial. If you need clarification, are confused, or something came to mind that the lawyers haven’t asked, you can write it on a piece of paper, raise your hand, and the bailiff will deliver your note to the Judge, who will then confer with the attorneys, and someone will address your question if deemed appropriate.

Here are some questions I really wanted to know the answers to, but I never got around to asking:

1. Hypothetically, if Juror #8 and Juror #11 really hit it off and promise not to talk about the case at all, can they make out? Or is that against the law? Even if we never even talk about Court at all? P.S. can you ask Juror #8 if he likes anyone on the jury?

2. How many beers am I allowed to have at lunch? Is four too many?

3. Can we all vote on replacing these terrible fluorescent lights? I think we’d all be a lot happier.

4. This is not really a question. But I just wanted to say, you all have great ties on today. Well done.

5. Can we take a poll about where everyone’s favorite place to get lunch is? I know the court reporter goes to Subway, what about everyone else?

6. Is my skirt too short? Would you let me know if it was?

Overall though, I will say, they don’t lie in that video they make potential jurors watch, the whole experience was educational, fascinating, and much more interactive then my days of gorging on Netflix Watch It Now fare. If you are planning on supplementing your income though with a stint in jury duty, be forewarned, in San Francisco, you only get paid 15 dollars a day plus mileage, so my total was $17.50 per day. You might want to check with your State first.

A fellow juror mentioned he was struck by the formality and design of the court and how despite not being told what to do, we all knew to address the Judge as your Honor, remain quiet, stand at certain times, etc. We also knew not to sleep with other jurors, drink at lunch, and wear inappropriate outfits. (At least, as far as I know, we all knew.) But I wonder if we could have? Next time.

And because how can you talk about court without talking about my main squeeze, Matlock, here’s a clip:

[youtube 0WfYAXD2DQs]

Like this article? Make sure to sign up for our mailing list so you never miss a goddamn thing!
Previous post

Tutu Tuesdays! $2! 222 Hyde! Homophones!

Next post


Jessica Longo - Two-Bit Reporter

Jessica Longo - Two-Bit Reporter

Jessica was born, moved around a lot and has an odd dialect to prove it (see: hella, bubbler, and cawfee), and is now precariously settled in SF. Despite graduating high school too many years ago to count, she was crowned Prom Queen this summer and considers her life complete now. Last year her production editing job was outsourced to the Philippines. Hope they like it. Luckily for you, this Lady of Leisure is currently accepting applications for the position of Wealthy Benefactor.