Monday, March 31, 2008

Guilty as charged!

Oh yes, Jury Duty is officially over. Let me recap... It was now time for us, the jury, to begin deliberation. First, before we could start the judge had to give incredibly long instructions on the applicable laws that were used for this specific case. We were then ushered into the deliberation room. First we had to pick a foreman. It was a relief to finally be able to express opinions about the case. The first task was to determine whether the person was Guilty as charged and that went smoothly. What took longer was 3 enhancement charges. However, this was not to go as smoothly as the Main vote. In my opinion, I thought this was so slam dunk easy, what's taking soooo long. By lunch, it was obvious we weren't making any progress so it the break came as a welcome relief from the group.

Back from lunch we found ourselves in a ready to go... action! We had a one juror that was very hesitant to make the final decision because of "feelings". Grrrr! Folks, you can't make your decision based on feelings, you have to follow the law of instructions regardless of how you feel. The stare-down went on for a while with both sides defending their positions, vowing not to compromise. But finally the person came around and again, Guilty as charged on the enhancements.

We had taken almost the entire court day, but we were relieved to have finally reached a verdict. We notified the Judge and within 30 minutes, we were back in the jury box for the reading of the verdict. As the clerk read the decision, I watched with eagle eyes everyone's responses.

The Public Defender was obviously displeased with the decision, so he asked the judge for permission to poll the jury to make sure that the entire jury was in agreement. One by one we were asked if we agreed with the verdict and we all answered yes. The judge thanked us for our service and we were then discharged. The case was over, as far as we were concerned.

As we were gathering downstairs on the street, the District Attorney made an appearance to thank us personally. It was a nice touch. We got to ask further questions that weren't allowed during the trial. Then the Public Defender came over and asked us a few questions as well. 45 minutes later I said it was time for something to drink. My fellow juror buddy said, "Oh yea it's St. Patrick Day!" I said, "I don't care what day it is! I'm glad this is over with!" Other's heard our conversation and joined us! I hate beer but to stay with the Green theme, I had a Apple Martini and it was quite good!

We all agreed that we are glad that we live in the USA and even though our judicial system has flaws, it's better than other countrys!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Withdrawals... but then again there is Monday!

I am experiencing Sunday night Jane Austen withdrawals... the weeks are passing slowly since PBS Masterpiece Classic of Pride and Prejudice & it will be one more week until Emma! (Did you notice I only said Sunday night!) That is because I already own all the Austen movies (it was indeed a Merry Christmas!) and fancy to watch them in the morning when I get ready for work and have heard 30 long minutes of news. Each day I just pick up where I left off.

It started years ago. The morning news is repetitive at each 30 minute segment so I started watching my soap opera's that I taped the day before instead. Then... when I had my baby, I started watching several at a time and still regularly read up on them each week thanks to my mom for my birthday subscription to Soap Opera Digest! My birthday also begins the tradition of watching "White Christmas" until January arrives. Wow, I love the dancing in that movie!

Last year I spent months on the Anne of Green Gables series.... I was obsessed with watching the second installment... Anne of Avonlea. My children know ALL the parts, yet they still enjoy it when I put it in occasionally now. I never get tired of watching movies over and over again. My girlfriend (okay... it's Erin) gives me that strange look of "how could she possibly torture herself by doing that?" I've been known to wear out several VHS copies too from over use! ha ha

Mondays!!! Yes, Season 6 is here for "Dancing with the stars!" I'd like to see a woman win this year... my vote is for Marlee Matlin!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Jury Duty

About a month ago I received my notice for jury duty. At that time I had hoped that it would mean a wasted day in the courthouse where you just sit around the entire day and then learn that you weren't selected for any trials. I don't mind it at all really because it is usually a whole day of uninterrupted reading, which is like heaven for me. Now don't get me wrong, I think jury duty is really an important civic responsibility, like voting and truly should be taken seriously because it IS serious when taking away someone's liberty.

After arriving at the courthouse, I and the rest of the summoned people were herded into a room, where a pleasant jury administrator gave us an orientation and played an educational video about the jury process. She mentioned that most of us would not be picked for a case and that would satisfy the obligation, meaning that those people were off the potential juror list for one year. (Yeah we're busy here in California!)

No such luck for me, I was indeed summoned up stairs to the court room. There was probably less than 100 of us that filed into the court room and waited for the next step which was to meet with the lawyers and the defendent. It was very interesting to listen to everyone's story. Some thought that perhaps they'd play up their prejudices and get booted really quick. Not a chance! The judge and the lawyers spent a lot of time asking you to explain your biases and prejudices and I think I figured out why. It opens the door for other people to raise their hand because they feel the same way too but are maybe afraid to say something on their own. And because they want you to air all this information out now and not in the deliberation room when it's time to make your decision of guilty or not guilty. What was even more amazing to me was how on the bathroom breaks, I could over hear people sharing their opinions in the hallway (stupid, stupid, stupid!!!) and in the end, I don't think it went unnoticed to the staff milling around among us because those people were not selected.

The questions were rather general, like what is your job, how do you feel about lawsuit awards, and have you ever been injured or have a close relative or friend who had such experiences. They also included a couple of fairly private, but not overly prying questions like marital status and children's ages, and whether you are happy to perform jury duty. I answered them honestly and apparently they must have liked my answers (I have had nearly 15 years of experience in being objective to the facts presented), since 3 days later while still in the jury selection process I was informed that I was indeed selected.

Up to this point what we did in court bore little resemblance to my limited theatric knowledge of the justice system as shown on TV. All I can say for now is that the "Judge is having a great hair day", so when it's all over I will write more about the experience.

Sunday, March 2, 2008