Jury Duty in the CPT

By Holmes

I only had three hours of sleep last night so apologies in advance for any egregious errors that might follow.

To the end of fulfilling my obligation as a citizen of the State of California, this morning I reported for and served my jury duty at the Superior Court in Compton.

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Where I live is not in Compton, but close enough to get summoned to the state court in that city. Upon calling in the night before to be told by a recorded voice to report at 7:45 a.m., I set the alarm and had a few more rations of medicine to calm my nerves. I mean there’s nothing really to be nervous about. I’ve been through this sort of thing before; but the thought lingered that wearing a plaid shirt and glaring at the defense attorney during voir dire just might not get me over the “thank you, Mr. Holmes, you’re excused” bar. So I fretted, only briefly flirting with the idea of dredging up an offensive concert t-shirt from daze gone by, and then finally passed out.

dsc03122In the jury room, over 200 adults sat idling listening the instructions about how to complete the summons, request postponements, lodge excuses in an attempt to get out of service, etc. Most of them read newspapers, magazines or paperbacks. Others struck up conversations with nearby people, made telephone calls, listened to music, or played around with their telephones. One moron raised his hand to announce that he was a felon, which did get him out of service. (Who’s the moron, now?) I should add that this remarkably diverse group of prospective jurors was underrepresented only in the 20-something male demographic. Mere coincidence? I think not.

The group was convivial, laid-back, courteous, and (I dare say) even friendly. dave would have gone wild with all of those bootylicious girlies putting on quite a show going through the elaborate de-bangling process (i.e., removing all metallic objects, jewelry, etc.) prior to passing through the metal detectors. The little guy with the wand seemed to really like his work. TSA with a smile.

dsc03120Anyway, having hours to kill allowed me to catch up on some newspaper reading. In today’s WSJ, there was a “Special Advertising Section” (sponsored by CERA) including an article entitled “Recession Shock: The Oil Market and the Global Economy” by Daniel Yergin. It was a well put together (for the most part, benefit of hindsight) recap of recent oil market swings. ZK readers might find this excerpt interesting (although you may or may not take issue with some of it):

If prices remain low, however, investments in new capacity will slow, and this trend could be amplified by government policies aimed at both energy security and climate change. Amidst the current apprehension, it is difficult to look beyond today’s economic emergency. But the cycle will turn around again. What happens then? Will investment slow so much that the seeds of the next disruptive oil price spike will take root? That certainly would not happen in the first years of a recovery, but such a scenario is certainly possible towards the middle of the next decade.

dsc03118I also read the entire excellent Energy report (from Monday’s WSJ) front-to-back — some very clear-eyed reporting. As good as I’ve seen from any source lately. The WSJ seems to have pulled back slightly on their doomer tone. Other more imminent economic concerns have eclipsed most such reporting for the moment. CERA, on the other hand, to their credit (never thought I’d be writing this), has rather frankly framed resource depletion realities in far starker terms bringing to the fore of their distillations fundamental issues such as land use, clear cutting, spikes in food prices, etc. The overall message seems to be that the system may be staggering, but it’s not done yet.

Today I watched a huge group of potentially productive adults squander their time in a waiting room: the price we pay for a (marginally) functioning legal system I suppose. But still, it is all so extraordinarily wasteful in every aspect. Hundreds of people showed up to endure this debacle. I was never even called into a court room. I was one of the lucky ones. One day and, if not empaneled, you’re done and free to go. The fact that I and so many others were willing and able to do this suggests that a great many people aren’t ready to go AWOL just yet.

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19 Replies to “Jury Duty in the CPT”

  1. Court waiting is quite boaring. I had a the Daily Rekoning Book, Financial Colapes I think it was called, my last trip.

    Fortunately being a homeschooling dad they took pitty on me and kicked me off the Jury. I made it so far as the court room Jury seats and when the ask for any reasons why I could not serve on this minimum 5 day trial I boomed in my loudest but normal sounding voice that I did not have the child care coverage to stay that long. Thus after scaring them with my super loud voice the defense and prosicution both quickly agreed to let me off.

  2. “The fact that I and so many others were willing and able to do this suggests that a great many people aren’t ready to go AWOL just yet.” –Holmes

    My mantra for at least the last 15 years has been, “go for the amusement value.” Years ago I started out as a jury alternate (the trial went on for two weeks…way beyond expectations… and by the time deliberations started, I replaced a juror who had to leave) in the omnipresent drug trials that are DC stock-in-trade. All sorts of improper actions–in and out of the courtroom–on the part of the jurors put the lie to the fact that there is any sort of “justice” in our current arrangements. It’s a charade but it is also an interesting study in human nature.

    These days, when I’m summoned for a jury cattle call and it is invariably a drug case, I let the judge know I don’t believe in the criminalization of any drugs. Last year, I had a 10 minute debate in voir dire with the judge over why I was unsuitable to serve in drug cases–I must have won because I was not chosen.

    Great “court reporting” Holmes.

  3. I have only had drunk driving cases. Hard to get out of those with the line “I do not belive that drunk driving impairs driving ability.”

    The last one that was projected to go 5 days. It was a guy caught drinking and driving in a school zone when school was letting out.

    They caught the guy after he ran into the back of a parked, next to the curb and clearly marked police car with officer standing safely on the sidewalk next to his said police car. The judge listed over 40 witnesses for the Prosicution which included Teachers, Parants, Bus Drivers and other officers. Several of the potential jury drones lauphed out loud when the Judge sumerized the case.

    But idiot was exercizing his rights for a fair trial.

  4. EE and roach, if push came to shove, I had mapped out a short speech which might have gone something like: “Yes, your honor, I’m certain that I can keep in my unbiased mind’s eye a clear picture of acquitting the defendant so that he can participate in a stimulus program to put Californians back to work building more, bigger and better prisons to house our congenitally predetermined and ever growing criminal population. That prosecutor over there… he’s no dummy. From the shape of his skull, you can see that he hates to lose and wouldn’t bring charges without iron-clad DNA evidence, but I can definitely put those statistically-supported biases aside and not think obsessively about them at all. And if the case is a close one, I’m less prone to violence knowing that I can consult with my spiritual leader, Bunn Bunn… he’s a hyperintelligent rabbit who telepathically communicates with and advises me whenever my perceptions or beliefs are challenged, particularly when I’m locked into a room and prevented from working so that I can generate desperately needed tax revenues for the Great State of California. Yeah, I’m good.”

  5. Ah, Holmes, dragged down to the halls of justice to serve. Good on you. Reminds me of the time, now a few decades back, when I was summoned to appear before a judge. My crime was traffic related. It was speeding and I qualified for the special case of being caught doing twice (plus) the speed limit. Yes, the horrors, I was nabbed by a a three-wheeled scooter driving cop at the Honolulu international airport. She said I was doing slightly over 30 in a 15! No posting bale for me–a mandatory court appearance.

    So, I actually sorta dress up, and appear wearing long pants, shoes, socks and an Aloha shirt (flowers pattern, no surf boards, naval guns or wahines). The guy before me in que is this big part-Hawaiian dude, shaved bald head, in orange prison overalls, cuffs and leg chains. He mumbled some plea, but most of the talking was between the judge and his lawyer. Then they opened a side door and he was shuffled off with two big court guards on either side. Something about murder.

    My turn to step up and appear. The clerk reads the charge and the judge asks me how do I plead. Head slightly bowed, I plead “guilty as charged, your honor”. The fine was something like $28. Bail at that time for speeding was north of $100. The judge appeared to be as amazed as I was that I was dragged into her court. Ever since, I really check my speed at HNL.

  6. Doom, the one and only time I was in Oahu (in the early 90’s) I actually talked my way out of a traffic ticket for a moving violation. Since then, I’ve never once argued or complained when receiving a ticket, rather, I simply accept that I’ve been popped and keep quiet.

  7. ya, back in the ’90’s i was on the first OJ jury.

    that mafucking jonny cockrain had the best saying ever, “if de glove don’t fit, you must acquit”. that’s means we had to to let my man go home. nobody could argue with that line.

  8. holmes, sorry, but i just have to ask. what did you wear?

    i just can’t shake the prada and armani logos out of the cobwebs that make up my mind, dior too. you know, you sitting there slicked back hair, anckle boots with buckles polished to a high shine, topped off by a $10k armani pin stripe, reading wsj. never mind the the skivvies. kinda fucked up, sorry.

    but how close am i?

  9. dave, I went with your standard plaid flannel over shirt (Cf. Control Machete, Snoop Dogg, etc.), cognac-colored Merrells, slicked back hair, WSJ. (The look you described would have been even better, except I didn’t notice any place in the court house where you could get your shoes shined.)

    The brother running the jury room, giving instructions, etc. was built like a brick shit house, barrel-chested, probably 5’9”, 250 lbs… looked like he could pretty easily twist into Chinese contortionist funky shapes any punks who got out of line. Only at the end, when he was handing out the attendance certificates, did some esse start flipping him shit. The Mexican was going on something about the fireplug looking guy at least having a job and not being homeless. It was all too incoherent and late in the day to be taken seriously by any of us. Barring exigent circumstances, I always live by the rule: “Never answer the phone after 4:00 p.m. on a Friday.”

  10. anyhoo, good look to get excused. just next time be sure to wear a red bandana and pro keds instaed of the merrals, bloods to the death.

    JC(note the initials, this is not coincidence), why the good always die young?

  11. I didn’t realize you spent the whole damned day there. I read this and thought of it as a nice bit of quiet time to read the WSJ cover to cover. That, and a cup of coffee are enough to make me content. Not for a whole day though.

    I only ever got called once for jury duty, but I had to weasel out of it. The judge cut me loose because of my work travel. However, I did once take the stand as a witness in front of a packed courtroom, which was no skin off my ass in that particular situation, but still it was rather surreal being sworn in and subjected to the formalities of the process. Actually it was humorous because I had a broken leg (no, not related to the case) and all kinds of effort was required to get me up there. I felt so special!

  12. What! Well let that be a lesson to you. If you read the WSJ that fast bring a book next time and have Indian food the night before so you can make all your co-conspirators happy.

    I would kill to sentence someone to death. Or not. (I guess it depends on what you’re into).

    My Dream of America is one in which the interviews with jurors after OJ and Michael Jackson-like trials feature personalities like Bif and Holmes instead of these retards who don’t know what the WSJ is, never mind WANT to read it.

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