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Thread: Doing My Civic Duty

  1. #1
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    Oct 2006
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    Doing My Civic Duty

    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:
    • 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
    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.)

    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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    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  2. #2
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    I hope you get a short case, or a LONG one with someone very famous, and you get a book and movie deal out of it

    This coming year, they are finally going to start to use the Jury system here in Japan, I'm kind of shocked that they are finally going to do it, up until now, all cases were decided by a panel of usually three judges, who were NOT the common man/woman at all.

    Lots of controversy on this one.....
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    I've somehow managed to avoid JD all my life, of course now since I opened my mouth watch me get called up

    Vaughn, isn't that the building that they had to go back and do work on due to all the sunlight being blindingly reflected?
    Throw Apples out the Windows, but make sure not to hit the Penguin.

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  4. #4
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    just 2 months ago i had the same treat,, and i was not lookin forwar to it either i had scheduled time off work for hunting and they went drop a on call staus right in the middle of it... if were someother time i wouldliek toget chance to be a hangin juror i was on the victum end last year and this year i was gonna get a crook if he deserved no more soft guy but it didt happen very nice building vaughn to alot of folks steel structurs are tall and straight and square lookin that one is far from sguaer you must gravity towards round stuff huh
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
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  5. #5
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    Been there, done that. Sit and wait. Boring. Got called to one panel for questioning and was excused when I said I knew the main witness for the prosecution, a deputy, and that he didn't know how to tell the truth and I would never believe a word he said, even under oath.
    Not fun, but has to be done.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    Been there, done that. Sit and wait. Boring. Got called to one panel for questioning and was excused when I said I knew the main witness for the prosecution, a deputy, and that he didn't know how to tell the truth and I would never believe a word he said, even under oath.
    Not fun, but has to be done.
    good man there frank!!!!
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  7. #7
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    Well, the long trials can be fun also! I think I've related here before about being on a capital murder trial.
    I've been called 4 times. Got out of it twice. First time while I was out of state at College, second time was with the "get out of jail card" from being on a jury that was sequestered for 2 weeks. Other time I was called, I was picked for the voir dire (sp?) but the jury was picked before they got to me.
    It is amazing to be in the middle of a trial, and see the things that go on or get stopped because of questions and debates on the workings of the trial. That's when the jury gets excused while they debate how to proceed legally, and what the jury can and can't hear. We did a lot of marching back and forth from the court room to the jury holding tank the first week. Jim.
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  8. #8
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    I also pulled jury duty for the week of the 29th. Wouldn't you know this is the week the University is "closed" and we are required to use out own vacation time for the days off. I didn't feel like "paying" myself to go to jury duty. Fortunately, where I live you can request a reschedule online. I got one no problem but, I have NEVER asked for one before so maybe that's why it was easy . Or maybe there's just not as many crooks in Riverside . . . . booooo-whaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha . . . I kill me.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
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  9. #9
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    Jul 2008
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    I've lived, and have been registered to vote in Fairfax County, Virginia since 1979 and have never been called to jury duty. Thank goodness we don't have any crime.



  10. #10
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    Feb 2007
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    Thanks for the statistics Vaughn, it is interesting to see how law works in other countries.

    As per the Walt Disney concert hall, it is pretty similar to the Gugenheim museum in Bilbao ( north of Spain). I do not know about the one you show but in thise one the metal sheet covers are titanium.
    When they built it, there was quite a lot of controversy not only because of the desing but also because of the cost.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails gug01.jpg  
    Best regards,
    Toni

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    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

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