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July 8th, 2006

The one that got away

Yesterday I had to get up at 6 a.m. and trudge downtown to the Civic Courthouse for jury duty. Normally jury duty's a pretty soul destroying event; I'm never one of those lucky mofos who doesn't get picked and gets to go home early; nope, I ALWAYS get picked, and end up on some case so absurd the judge actually apologizes on behalf of the entire judicial system (I'm not kidding - and he did it in writing, too).

But this time...yes, of course, my name got picked, and 90 of us were marched two blocks over to the Criminal Courthouse and into a Superior Court. I was thinking, "Why on earth do they need 90 of us?" Here's why: The case in question concerned one gentleman with 7 counts against him. The first count: That on February 15, 2003, he allegedly murdered a 21-year old girl named Kristine Johnson (her body, which had been dumped over the side of a Hollywood hill, was found six weeks later). The second count: Attempted rape. The remaining counts were for a series of crimes two days later, and included identity theft, robbery, and stealing a BMW from a Beverly Hills dealership.

The judge mentioned that this was a highly-publicized case 3 years ago. He was right - here's one example. The state was seeking the death penalty against the defendant.

The trial would last 4 to 5 weeks.

I don't mind telling you I briefly considered just biting the financial bullet and going for it. For one thing, there was just the unfolding of a huge, interesting story.

And then of course there was the part of me going, "I could get a true crime book out of this!" Fortunately that part got bitchslapped into realizing, "Oh, yeah, right...I don't want to write true crime books."

So in the end, I excused myself (as did about 75 other jurors) on the cause of financial hardship. But damn was I tempted...

Oh, and BTW - lucky Morton here got drawn for a SECOND panel later. That one would have gone 2 to 3 weeks, so again I got excused on financial hardship. I have no idea what that one was about (the judge didn't tell us), so I don't know what I missed there. Are there a lot of big companies out there that pay unlimited jury duty? I mean, I get the big fat goose egg on jury duty pay working for a small independent bookstore - one day (like yesterday) is one less vacation day I now have. Y'know, they ask you to state how many days of jury duty your employer pays for, but then you still get shuffled into cases that'll take weeks, and meanwhile they're paying a fabulous $15 a day...the system needs some fixin'.