Despite the crunch time I'm currently going through at work lately, I spent Friday in downtown Los Angeles on jury duty. LA County is pretty aggressive and thorough about summoning people for jury duty, so it's not a matter of if you will serve, but when you will serve. They also make getting excused from duty nearly impossible. LOML had to jump through hoops of fire to get her 84-year-old mother excused -- twice -- even though her mom was incapacitated in a nursing home bed.
As it turned out, it was a pretty uneventful day for me, sitting and waiting, but never being called onto a panel. (Those in the know make sure to bring reading material.) I suspect that since it was Friday, there were not a lot of judges wanting to start new trials. They did call one group of a dozen or so people (out of the 90 or 100 people who were waiting) for some type of pretrial interview on a case the judge was estimating would take 30 days. (Glad my name didn't get called on that one, but I would have been able to get out of it legitimately.) I wouldn't mind serving on a jury on a shorter trial, but it would be a serious difficulty for my employer, since I'm the only person there who does what I do. For a night owl like me, the most brutal part about serving is having to be in downtown LA at 7:30 in the morning. I had to get up at the time I am usually going to bed.
I was assigned to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, where they handle civil cases. Some statistics from a brochure they gave all of us:
We must have a lot of people breaking the law around here. One of the risks of jury duty here is getting on a high-profile case like Robert Blake's or Phil Spector's. (Looks like we wont have to worry about OJ for a while, though.)
- LA Superior Court is the largest in the United States
- 50 courthouses (600 courtrooms) serve LA County
- The Stanley Mosk Courthouse is the nation's largest, with 100 courtrooms
- The courthouse in Avalon, on Catalina Island, is the state's smallest courthouse, with one part-time courtroom
- The Court has 431 judges, and 140 commissioners -- judicial officers who hold many of the same duties as a judge
- More than 5,400 people are employed by the Court
- The Court's budget is $850 million per year
- 3.1 million people are called for jury service every year
- 1 million of them become qualified jurors
- 7,000 to 10,000 people serve as jurors every day
- 5,500 jury trials are conducted yearly
- Average length of trial is a little less than seven days, though many are longer
The courthouse building itself is nothing special, so the only pics I took were with my cell phone on the way back to my car. This is across the street from the courthouse...it's the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Very cool steel skeleton and stainless steel skin. To an ironworker, building it would have been a dream project. I understand it's gorgeous inside. All I've seen is the huge parking garage underneath it.
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