Well, it happened: I got called in for jury duty on my last day (Friday). As I described in my previous post, here in Los Angeles you are on call for jury service for one week. Here’s a little diary of my day:
8:15 AM I arrived and went through security, where they make sure you do not have any guns, knives, or anything dangerous that you are bringing into the courthouse. Then I went up to a large room with about 100 people in it. Any citizen can be called for jury duty, so it is a real cross-section (sample of all different types) of Los Angeles. Most people are reading a book or talking quietly on their cell phones as we wait for the day to begin.
8:40 AM Someone from the court comes in and gives us an orientation (an introduction to some event or activity). She tells us that we may be called at any time to go to a courtroom. Once we are in the courtroom, the judge will decide if we will be on the jury for that case (trial) or not. If we are not assigned or selected, then we must return back to the juror room and wait to see if we are needed for another case. We must wait until the end of the day, and could be called more than once to go to a courtroom. However, if we are selected, then we stay in that courtroom until the trial is over, which could be up to seven days.
9:15 AM We watch a video on jury duty and what to expect if we are called. It includes interviews with people who have served as jurors, and tells us how important our service is to our system of government. My favorite line in the video is at the beginning, when it says, “California – the greatest state in the nation!” I’m not sure everyone in the other 49 states would agree with that. Most people watch the video, although some continue reading their books or newspapers. Many – perhaps most of us – have been on jury duty before, so we have seen the video. It is sort of like the video they show you on a airplane about safety. If you have seen it several times, you don’t really pay much attention to it.
10:10 AM There is a television in the room, and someone has decided to turn it on. I find it annoying (irratating, something that you dislike), so I turn on my computer and plug in my headphones. I open iTunes and listen to some music to drown out the noise. To drown out noise means to create another sound (music, talking) so that you won’t hear what you don’t want to listen to.
10:50 AM Still sitting here in the room, waiting.
11:30 AM We are all summoned (ask to go to a certain place) back to the jury waiting room for an announcement. The two trials for that day will not require jurors, so we are officially released (excused, let go) from our duty. That’s it! We can all go home. Everyone applauds (claps their hands together), which is not I guess how we should react to something that is our duty as a citizen, but that’s what happened.