Monday, May 11, 2009

Jury duty!

This week was the third time I was called as a juror in San Mateo County. The first two times, they told me to just forget it, but this time I spent the morning waiting around in the jury room.

Around 11:40, we were told to take an early lunch and be back by 1pm.

A few minutes after 1:00, we were told to go to a certain courtroom and await instructions. The presiding judge arrived.

He started us off with some good news: this morning's waiting around was going to count as our jury service for this year. Whew! He explained a change in the court system made about a decade ago, and he also explained what happened in the case we were called in for.

Sometimes, he said, having a bunch of prospective jurors waiting around downstairs is what it takes to get these guys to settle a case. They know what they'd like to say and do at trial, but when the 75-80 people are milling around downstairs... it's only then that they say, "Gee, do I really want a jury to hear all this about my client?"

I had this scenario in my mind's eye: The lawyers are posturing back and forth. The judge is trying to get them to settle. The defendant is clearly guilty, and this reality is finally hitting the defense attorney. It's getting close to lunch time, and the judge says, "Counselor, there are about 75 rather impatient jurors downstairs, ready to roast your client's anatomy. I suggest you settle."

Of course that isn't what actually happens, but it was amusing to imagine it.

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