Incidental Acts of Spontaneous Cerebral Violence

Monday, December 06, 2004

YOU'RE out of order! YOU'RE out of order! THE WHOLE TRIAL is out of order! THEY'RE out of order!

Allow me to set the scene: The 11th floor of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. A large institutional flourescently lit room. The assembled masses (higher end than your typical DMV, but not by much) sit, slouch and snooze throughout, assembled in a manner eerily reminiscent of a traffic school classroom. I am marginally aware of the dull sounds of whispered cell phone conversations, keyboard typing and the audio of "The People's Court" from the lone TV as they all coalesce overhead and reverberate off the faux wood panelling and the row of windows fronting the room, blinds drawn to protect the functionaries and administrators from having to look upon the pathetic faces of 250 potential jurors.

Yes, my dear friends and even dearer enemies, for the first time in my 31 years upon this planet, I am fulfilling my consitutional and civic duty of jury service. I tremble with the potential responsiblity that may be thrust upon me, for I have been called to the central criminal court for all of Los Angeles County. Yes, O.J. spent several months below me back in 1995. As did the Menendez boys back in 1996. And, along the same lines, Robert Blake's 9th floor hoedown kicks off on December 20th, just in time for Christmas (unfortunately, they already have a jury seated for that epic-in-the-making).

You might ask: How come a dually-admitted member of the bar with the occasional shady tendency can't get himself out of jury duty? Let me tell you, it's not for lack of trying. I postponed a prior spring summons to December on the advice of a friendly county clerk who promised that virtually no juries were ever seated around Christmas.

Bullshit. Tell it to the judge.

Of course, if that actually attempted to empanel me, I should be dismissed for cause as quickly as you can say "voir dire." It's one of the few times that being an over-educated, liberal, highly arrogant, opinionated prick actually works to my benefit. (For some odd reason, it hasn't historically worked with the ladies.) However, the mere possibility of a multi-week trial is way too close for comfort.

As of this writing, I have managed to escape being called for a potential twelve day trial AND a minimum fifteen day whopper. Talk about guilty before opening statements: Any jury stuck in this place for three-weeks-plus over Christmas is not acquitting the defendant responsible for sticking them there. Not a chance. Culpability is irrelevant.

Truthfully, it's not all that bad sitting here. This morning, I caught up on some reading. Checked out my old downtown stomping grounds during lunchtime. (If stuck here tomorrow, I'll be meeting a few old big firm co-workers for a nice expensed lunch at the brand new Patina in Disney Hall; no fucking way I'm doing courthouse cuisine.) And they do have this functional computer, for which I paid a mere $10 for all-day access. Of course, they did try to block ET as a porn site (used the back door instead; not all that inappropriate for this place, eh?) and I felt people looking over my shoulder as I perused Uncle Grambo's daily musings.

Hopefully, the next ninety minutes will pass without incident. A prospective juror's obligation is fulfilled under LA County's "One Trial System" if he/she makes it through one day without assignment to any courtroom. The powers-that-be have only attempted to empanel four juries since 9 am and my name has yet to come up. In fact, the jury common room on this floor (there's one down on the 5th floor as well) remains at 65% capacity minimum. From my days as a litigator, I know that judges are disinclined to request new jurors as afternoon stretches into evening. Odds are that very soon we will be dismissed for good and I'll be able to chalk this up not as a wasted day, but as a day that I completely fulfilled my sacred duty as a U.S. citizen and player within the American jurisprudential complex. [The new sound you hear is me Knock, Knock, Knockin' on every piece of faux wood in the vicinity.]

One Final Note:

Who's the #1 team in both the AP Poll and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll?

The Fighting Illini!!!!!

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