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This Day in My History


A jury consists of of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.

~ Robert Frost

Yesterday's Entries

2001:  ZZzzz
2002:  The Years Creep on Apace--and so do the Ants
2003:  Conquering the Yuck Factor


Venus Envy

TODAY on the Tele

West Wing


Lots of Rain



28 January 2004

The last thing I wanted to find in my mailbox was a jury summons.

The last time I was called to jury duty was right before we were leaving for England and the trial would have run into the start of our trip. There were lots of people claiming "hardship" for that trial, but the judge didn’t excuse anybody but me.

I had no such handy excuse this time.

Well, I have this job, but it’s a public agency and they certainly weren’t going to harumph about my taking off for jury duty. Besides, the job I do isn’t exactly a vital one.

But it did really make me angry. Jury duty is everyone’s duty, but when you have an hourly job, you end up paying for the privilege of doing something that you didn’t want to do in the first place. People who are on salary still get their salary and the employers have to let them off to do their jury duty. But when you are paid by the hour, you only get paid when you show up.

They give you $15 a day for Jury duty, and I make $12 an hour.

I could have claimed "hardship," but (a) I didn’t know if that qualifies for hardship, and (b) I would hardly be suffering financially if I didn’t have three days worth of salary. So I took a deep breath and agreed to go do my duty. If nothing else, it would be fodder for a journal entry, right?

The rule is that you call the night before to find out if your group is still scheduled to show up. I was in group 252 and I called last night and listened to all the groups which were excused, but my group was not. I was to show up at 1:15, but I should call at 11:30 just to make sure that I was still needed.

I imagined scenes out of The Practice or Law and Order, all the deals that were going on in the halls of the Yolo County Courthouse. I hoped that one of those deals would involve group 252.

But when I called at 11:30, the recording still said that jurors for group 252 had to show up.

I also hoped that even if I had to show up, that I had enough things going for me that I would be excused from duty for cause. One woman told me she had been excused and she was certain that it was because they felt that, because of her job, she would be a bleeding heart liberal.  What does it say that someone works for Suicide Prevention?

I also transcribe for a guy who does a lot of mental health evaluations for people who are appearing in front of the judges of Yolo County and that might work against me as a desirable juror.

Then there’s my history – I have a son killed in a drunk driving accident, which should make me undesirable if the case involved alcohol or automobiles....or children dying too young.

All sorts of possible scenarios floated around in my head as I drove toward the courthouse.  Possible reasons why no attorney would want me on his/her jury.

I arrived 15 minutes early and sat down to read my book. The one thing I like about things like this is that it generally involves a lot of waiting and so there is a lot of time to read. You can’t feel guilty about all the other stuff you should be doing, because you’re stuck there and can’t do laundry or transcription or clean crap out of a room.

Venus Envy is, so far a terrific book. Great premise, or a woman who is dying and so writes letters to all of the people in her life telling them what she thinks of them, what she wants for them, what she hopes for them, what she regrets never telling them. The nurses mail the letters, and then it turns out there was a mixup in lab results and she isn’t dying after all. But it’s too late to get the letters back. That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far – people starting to get and read the letters. I’m now all hooked on the book and eager to get farther into it.

When it was time for me to go into the jury room, I noticed that there was a sign-up sheet for group 251, but not for 252 and I figured I’d find out about that later.

I did. It turns out that after they released the recording saying that groups 251 and 252 were to show up at 1:15, plans changed and group 252 was rescheduled to Thursday. But since there were some of us who had called early, we were offered the option of either staying and getting our group changed to 251, or going home and coming back on Thursday.

I looked at the large group of people waiting for group 251 and figured that my odds of being dismissed were even greater with a large group of people, and I was already there anyway, so I opted to go into group 251.

The clerk told us that she would go and call the judge and find out how soon he wanted us to move down to the courtroom to continue the jury selection process.

I continued to read Venus Envy and hoped that I would be able to continue reading for the rest of the afternoon.

When the clerk returned, she said that between 11:30 and 1:30, the defendant had decided to accept a deal and so the trial was cancelled. I was free. I had fulfilled my obligations, had only missed one day of work, got to read a lot, and will now not be eligible for jury duty again for at least a year.

I missed a day’s salary, but that’s not so bad. And I did, indeed, get a journal entry out of it, so it was a good day after all, even if I did have to drive home in a blinding rainstorm.


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Happy Birthday, Paul

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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Weight Lost to date:  43.8 lbs

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Created 1/24/04