A Guide For Potential L.A. Jurors

I had to perform my civic duty last week and I thought I’d share with you what I learned. Keep in mind, this is just based on what I encountered through the L.A. County court system. If you live in a different area, don’t bother reading any further.

OK, are all those other losers gone now? Cool. Let’s get to the review:

ATTIRE: You have two ways to go here: One, you can try to look like a slob, figuring nobody will pick you for the jury. Or, two, you can go for the business-casual look. I, of course, tried the slob route, but it didn’t help. I made it past the first round of jury interviews, even when I was wearing my whimsical grey hoodie. Whatever you end up deciding on, WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES.

Ladies, I know how important it is for your shoes to match your outfit. Screw that. You are going to be doing a LOT of walking. Leave the heels at home. You will thank me later for the comfortable shoes tip. Trust me.

DRIVE TIME: No matter where you live, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to the courthouse. There could be a traffic jam. You could get lost trying to find the courthouse. Or all of the above, as it was in my case.

PARKING: Most likely, the court will tell you to park at 1st and Olive. It’s closer to the courthouse, but it’s a pain in the ass to get out of there sometimes. You also have the option of parking at the Disney Concert Hall parking lot. This is a nicer lot, but you’ll have some hiking to do at the end of the day (more on that later). If you do park in the Disney Concert Hall lot, REMEMBER TO HAVE YOUR TICKET VALIDATED at the end of the day. Otherwise, Mickey and Donald will kick your ass.

THE HIKE: Do you like exercise? Well, you’re certainly going to get some when you do jury duty. The courthouse you’re assigned to will most likely be at least three blocks away. Nevertheless, the walk from the parking lot will be pretty easy. It’s all downhill. Which means, yeah, it’s all uphill on the way back. Of course, these streets aren’t San Francisco steep, but they do require some effort, which is why you need COMFORTABLE SHOES.

THE CHECK-IN: When you get into the courthouse, you’re going to need to go through a security check. So have all of your metal stuff in one pocket ready to take out. And leave your gat at home.

THE ELEVATORS: The elevators near the front only go to the higher floors. Depending on where you need to report, you may have to fight everyone to get on one of the other elevators. Good luck. You’re going to need it.

OUTSIDE THE JURY WAITING ROOM: I don’t remember the official name of this room. I like to refer to it as “Hell On Earth.” If you get here early, you’ll just be waiting with everyone else in the hallway. There’s not much point in it. Still, don’t arrive late. Even though you’re just going to be sitting there and waiting for hours, if you show up late, they’re going to turn you away and tell you to come back tomorrow (as they did with me).

INSIDE HELL ON EARTH: There are some things you can do to make this more bearable. For one thing, find a good seat. They’ll tell you to sit in the front, but don’t listen to them. Take a look around. If you need an outlet for your laptop, find a seat near one. The rows of seats in front may look uncomfortable, but they have flexible backs, so you can sort of recline. This is great for relaxing. But it sucks if you happen to have a large woman with frizzy hair sitting in front of you who likes to recline. Bleh.

GETTING ONLINE: Looking for some free WiFi? Good luck. The only Web access for the lowly jurors can be found in the center of Hell On Earth. You’ll find some computer kiosks there. It’s $5 for one hour of access or $15 for the entire day. Once you sign up, you can check out the latest Yelp Talk threads, sign on to AIM, etc. I tried plugging my flash drive into the computer, but it wouldn’t show up anywhere. Oh well.

THE WAIT: Bring some work to do. If you have no work, bring a book or a magazine to read. Otherwise, you may have to talk to the people around you. About two hours into the wait, you’re going to wish you sat in front of one of those computers and sprung for the $15 to get online. Trust me, you will.

LUNCH TIME: You get an hour and a half for lunch, but I think you spend twenty minutes of that waiting for the elevator to take you down to the first floor. Do what I do. When you’re in the waiting area, you’re allowed to walk out into the hallway to make a phone call. Take that break about fifteen minutes before noon. Then just wait out in the hallway until you see the stampede of jurors coming out the door. When you do, make a mad rush for the elevator. You beat the system!

Remember, you have an hour and a half for lunch. Use it. Don’t spend it choking down food in the cafeteria. Get some exercise (you did wear your comfortable shoes, didn’t you?) and hike up to Grand, just past MOCA. That’s where the good food is, such as Mendocino Farms (they make a killer sandwich).

THE CALL: If they do call your name, you’re screwed. No, I kid. If they call you’re name, it means you’re going to another version of hell, one with less comfortable seats. If they ask you to drop by the window before you go to the courtroom, you’re not in trouble. They just picked you to give the clerk (or whatever they’re called) the list of jurors for roll call. They also might give you a piece of paper to write down the actual time you entered the courtroom after they sent you down. (It was about 30 minutes later, by the way.)

IN THE COURTROOM: This is the grueling part. When they pass out the numbers, hope you don’t get one of the lower ones. Numbers 1 through 12 are OK, because at least you get interviewed first. Plus, you get to sit in the cushier juror seats. The higher numbers have a less likely chance of getting picked, but you have to sit on the hard, spectators’ bench for hours while all the other potential jurors are interviewed. Of course, you have no choice in the matter. So good luck.

DURING YOUR INTERVIEW: Just stick to what you’re supposed to say. We’re all waiting. If you were on a jury before, tell them if you reached a verdict. DON’T TELL THEM WHAT THE VERDICT WAS! It says on the board not to tell what the verdict was, but there’s always some dolt who can’t read. Usually, more than one.

If you want to get out of being on the jury, be an asshole. I found that the assholes were the first ones to be let go. Just say that you don’t care what the law is. If someone is in a gang, they’re automatically guilty of whatever they were charged with. Or you can use my tactic: hesitate when they ask if you can put your feelings aside and look at the facts. And when you say “yes,” don’t look them in the eye. Look off to the side. They’ll think you’re lying.

WANT TO BE ON A JURY? I can’t help you there. I got sent home after the second round of interviews. Just keep in mind that once you’re on a jury, they’re not going to let you park any closer to the courthouse. In other words, if you’re trying to lose weight or want to build up your leg muscles, this might be a great way to do it. However, if you’re like me, a lazy ass, you’re just going to be hating life. Jury duty sucks.

Comments 14

  1. Gail Hardy wrote:

    Smivers…. great writing, as usual! Sounds like hell.

    Posted 21 Jan 2007 at 6:31 pm
  2. dvl wrote:

    why didn’t you requested a change of venue to a courhouse that is closer to home, somewhere in the west or southwest district, like anywhere between redondo and santa monica? also, don’t you have a nintendo DS? (if not, you could have borrowed the Little’s DS to pass the time.) lastly, the last time i checked they do have escalators and stairwells in the courhouse, and they are not just for employees… mkay? :p

    Posted 21 Jan 2007 at 8:22 pm
  3. C.S.D. wrote:

    Hiking. What a healthier alternative than regurgitating your meals.

    Posted 21 Jan 2007 at 10:14 pm
  4. Smivey wrote:

    Yes. It’s better for the teeth, too.

    Posted 21 Jan 2007 at 10:16 pm
  5. Yelpguy Frank wrote:

    I enjoyed my days as Alternate #3.

    Two weeks on a murder trial. Two ‘Darkside’ Crips or w/e walked up to a couple of local tagger kids, asked, ‘where you from,’ and — well, they were both convicted of murder.

    Posted 21 Jan 2007 at 10:41 pm
  6. Allie wrote:

    i envy you not at all for that whole jury business. i got a summons but only had to call in for a week or something like that last november. that means i’m good for a while, yes?

    and this would’ve kicked ass on yelp, btw!

    Posted 21 Jan 2007 at 11:30 pm
  7. catherine wrote:

    helpful. I I ever get a summons,ahem, I’ll be prepared. Good shoes and something to read are kind of no brainers,eh?

    Posted 22 Jan 2007 at 5:56 am
  8. JeN wrote:

    hmmm… and here I am hoping I’ll never ever have to do jury duty.
    *knocks on wood*

    Posted 27 Jan 2007 at 6:55 pm
  9. Smivey wrote:

    Well, I’ve heard, the trick is to never respond to the summons. Shred it in a paper shredder and think nothing of it. Of course, that’s breaking the law. I don’t condone such actions. But that’s just what I’ve heard.

    Posted 28 Jan 2007 at 7:50 am
  10. Housewife wrote:

    That’s why I tore up my jury summons’ for so many years.

    Ya right, prove I got it!

    I’ve got 18 years of sliding past jury duty… raising kids, primary caretaker… all that jazz.

    Whee for me ~ slide on ice and I can keep wearing my heels.

    Posted 11 Feb 2007 at 8:00 pm
  11. Caroline wrote:

    You’re a very clever & funny writer. Too bad YELP missed out on this one!

    Posted 21 May 2007 at 12:56 pm
  12. Smivey wrote:

    Thanks, Caroline. I does what I can.

    Posted 21 May 2007 at 1:33 pm
  13. Sammy Nishi wrote:

    THANKS FOR THE REVIEW & headsup on the lack of WIFI .. .. Nice to know things have not changed .. ..

    Thank God for laptops – a chance to get some work done and watch a movie, or two .. ..

    How do people show up with nothing to do?? No wonder they hate it .. ..

    Posted 18 Mar 2009 at 9:29 am
  14. Smivey wrote:

    You’re welcome, Sammy. Thanks for dropping by.

    Posted 18 Mar 2009 at 9:56 am

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