Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Surviving Jury Duty in Downtown Los Angeles

(Flickr pic by assonfire.)

I actually enjoy jury duty... that is, as long as I don't actually get on a jury.

Not that I don't believe in serving. I do. But being away from work causes enough stress and havoc that I'd prefer just to get it over with in one day, and then await the (inevitable) summons notice again in three years. (Which seems to be the frequency I get these things, like clockwork.)

But for at least one day, it's a nice change of pace -- and a chance to spend a bit more time downtown.

So there I was Monday morning, bright and early (7:45 a.m.!) at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown.

The best part of jury duty, of course, is lunch time in downtown. That means hopping on the Dash bus or walking over to Philippe's for a French Dip at Philippe's. Then, with time to spare before lunch break is over, it's time for a quick walk through Olvera Street in order to chow down on a churro from Mr. Churro. Justice is hungry.

What else do you need to know, besides remembering to park at Disney Hall? Pay attention:

:: Log in to the Superior Court website a day or two before jury service in order to watch the orientation video online. That will buy you some morning time: You'll get to show up at 9:30, instead of 7:45 a.m. That first nearly two hours is mindless, and you'll kick yourself for not having done the early orientation.

:: Bring your laptop -- but don't expect to get a clear WiFi signal. The free WiFi is there, but it's weak; and you'll only be able to access certain websites. Twitter? Nope. Blogger? Nope. Typepad? Strangely, yes. The Los Angeles Times? No. (That's the strangest block of them all.) I'd bring a magazine or newspaper as backup.

:: The tradition of "Maury" and "Springer" in the jury room is over: "There's a TV in the back, but it's broken, so don't bother," we're told. But if I recall correctly, the real reason is this: Jurors were fighting about what to watch -- with some wanting to catch the aforementioned Mssrs. Povich and Springer. The TVs finally had to be pulled all together. (Am I remembering this correctly? I think I remember they even told us this the last time I had jury duty.)

:: During jury appreciation week, which takes place the second week of May: Snacks and drinks are handed out free all week in the jury assembly room. A jury room worker described the week-long event, and then hit us in the groin: "Guess what? It's not this week." BURN.

:: If you've been convicted of a felony, you can't serve on a jury. You're welcome, celebrities!

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