Sunday, June 01, 2008

"Come awa', Maister Horner, come awa', and help us to hang ane o' thae daamed scoondrels!"

So famously said Lord Braxfield, judge of the Scottish bench, to one of his jurors during the political trials of 1793 and 1794.

The lot of the impartial juror has improved considerably since then but it's still not my favourite thing to do. But that's what last week was devoted to. (Insofar, of course, as I can be said to "do" it at all, since I am absolutely never impaneled. Neither counsel seems to want another JD on the panel and when they learn how often I play pipes for various and sundry police agencies, defense counsel can't get rid of me fast enough.) Still, it's a week for which nothing can be planned and all my engagements have to be given away to someone else. If you're really interested in the details of jurying in Los Angeles County, you can find out here. No. I didn't think you would be. But part of blogging is providing those links.

What really was worth the price of admission was the voir dire. We had 18 folks being queried and perhaps a dozen of them were trying desperately to convince whoever might be willing to excuse them that were far too prejudiced ever to be fair to the defendant. Apparently grandma had had her credit card number stolen. And the brother had his truck broken into. And this other one was personally fed to the teeth with crime. And on and on. One person's English was so bad she couldn't possibly follow a trial in English with all those big words. She was a bank executive and had been in the country for 35 years. The poor soul sitting next to me really did have almost no English. He didn't even have enough to explain that he didn't really know what was going on. He just agreed with whatever was asked of him. I hope for the sake of justice they let him off but I don't really know. They got rid of me first even though I explained that I have led a charmed life, unscarred by rampant crime, and that I am a paragon of fairness.

Helpful legal hints: If you're ever assigned to the Norwalk Superior Court, you can get a tolerable cup of coffee in the ground floor snack bar to tide you over the morning and a couple of sandwich places just south of the court house and across the street provide a cheap lunch.