Jury Duty is all the pleasure of a long distance bus-trip without actually going anywhere.
Last Friday, I was summoned to the civic county courthouse on McAllister street. I went through the security gate and down the stairs to the jury room which is like a very nice airplane waiting area; plush seats, low lighting, tables and chairs, clean bathrooms. I sat and sat and then they called my number and told me to go up the stairs to Court room 220. A bunch of us went up: about 50 or 60 packed into a medium-sized room. Then, 24 of us were called to sit in the actual jury area with the 12 chairs. We were given a card with a bunch of questions and had to answer them one by one. How long I’d lived in San Francisco, what was my education, who did I live with, was I married, had kids? Etc.
The lawyers for both the defense and prosecution came by and asked a bunch of questions. Had we ever been in an accident? Did we know someone who’d had a DUI? How did we feel about cops? Did we think it was silly to be there that day? Those who talked the most and answered every question got excused: I would have excused them too. Evidently, you don’t have to get all racist to get kicked off a jury: just be a pain in the ass.
I clammed up. It’s all right to say, “Oh, I’ll just tell them this or that….” But when you’re sitting there in that chair and there’s a judge and lawyers, it’s a whole different ballgame. I know two people who have lost their licenses but kept my trap shut because it wasn’t anyone close to me. No, these people were acquaintances.
The Latina defendant was sitting there and she looked kinda ghetto; she wasn’t dressed appropriately for a courtroom but was wearing casual clothing. Her lawyer was this Marina-type valley girl blonde with a constant sneer on her face. I kept waiting for her to say things like, “Eh…mah…GAWD!!” But she didn’t. She just ended up objecting to everything the prosecution said. The second day she wore a pant suit with Capri pants.
I really liked the prosecution; she was a Vassar type in crisp white Ann Taylor suits and pearls. She was nice. Thin as a rail with a slight hunchback and goofy teeth.
The judge was a smally, fifty-ish woman of Italian descent. Very no-nonsense but hella cool. I liked her.
So I got selected: mainly because I didn’t say anything. I think I would have been objective anyway.
We got the sense that it was a DUI case; and Monday morning it began. They trotted out cops, paramedics, phlebotomists and firefighters. All their stories pretty-much gibed that on December 2 at 2:30 in the morning, Ms. R------ (the defendant) had stolen her ex-boyfriend’s car, done alcohol shots with her friends, and then plowed into a bunch of vehicles on O-- street at C----- and L----. Some cars were flipped over and onto their sides. Lots of people were hurt. Ms. R------ said to a cop “I did it! I did it! It’s my fault, etc.”
A typical day was we were summoned at 9:00. By nine thirty or ten, we’d get called into the room. We’d hear a witness or two, and then get excused for a two-and-a-half hour lunch. I’d wander around downtown and then go back at the appointed time. Then, we’d sit around for another half an hour to hour twiddling our thumbs before we’d get called in to hear another witness and then get excused for the day. It Totally Blew!! It was like a game of baseball: hurry up and wait. Five percent action and ninety five percent waiting.
Today, we were supposed to be there at 9:00. At ten thirty, we got called into the room and told that the case was settled and we weren't needed after all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Heavy sigh; I think that jury duty would be interesting if one got a good case, but for the most part, just be a pain in the ass during selection and get out of it. If you get called at all.
I guess I screwed up by smiling; see, it's not all about being racist.