Skip to content

judgement week: me v. L.A. jury duty

July 27, 2012

When I lived in the Los Angeles metroplex in the ’90’s, I made the tactical error of registering

to vote.  I figured one person living in a van in a county of 12 million would be hard to find for

jury duty.


I was exceedingly incorrect.  Even with a blindfold on, Lady Justice found me and requested

my presence for a week in a Torrance courthouse.  I spent it in the basement with a hundred

or so other folks equally thrilled to oil the cogs of the legal system.


We showed up every morning at 8 a.m.  A kind but firm bailiff let us read and converse quietly

as we waited for The Call.  I was Called three times.


The first time I sat in the gallery with about 20 other prospective jurors as the attorneys

looked us over.  I was told straightaway that I was dismissed and to return to the dungeon.

The judge didn’t phrase it quite like that, but that was the meta-message.  He didn’t offer an

explanation.  All I can figure is that my long hair, somewhere between an afro and a kelp bed,

flagged me as a troublemaker.


The second time I made the first cut and moved to the jury box.  Each of us were then asked

a series of questions to prove or disprove that we were citizens worthy of hanging out another

citizen to dry.


I was sailing through the exam until the judge asked me to state my spouse or ex-spouse’s

name.  I was twice divorced by then, so I asked “which one?”  The judge said “all of them”.

I aced that question as well.  It looked like I was going to be impanelled when the judge

said “do any of you have any questions?”


I raised my hand and said “your honor, I’m an agnostic.  Is there an oath I can take other

than to God?”  I was back in the basement five minutes later.


The third time I made it to to the jury box again, but before we even got to the questions,

the judge asked “does anyone have any problem with this particular case?”  The particular

case was a man being charged with possession of nitrous oxide (laughing gas).  We had

passed a large tank of it on our way into the courtroom.


I raised my hand again and said “your honor, I have trouble with the hypocrisy of our

nation’s drug laws.”  Back to the basement.  For the rest of the week I read and conversed

quietly with others.

  1. July 29, 2012 10:23 am

    You my friend have led a very interesting life. I always know that you can brighten any bad day that I might have had!

    • July 30, 2012 5:11 pm

      Thank you, Beth. It was a wonderful birthday. I’m glad that my life experiences can brighten your day, because your life experiences recently have been quite dark. I hope you keep drawing from the deep wells of strength you have.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: