I got called for jury duty in LA county. What should I expect? I’ve been told that I have to wait until 4-5 PM on the first day to see if I’ll be selected from a trial, and that trials last on average for 5-7 days, but…what’s your experience, Dopers?
Well, I got the letter about it and every day for a week I had to call a number to see if I had to appear. Did it, and each time I got a message saying they didn’t need me.
I only got called up once in the eight years I’ve lived in L.A., as compared to Orange County when I got called every single year (the bastards).
I had to do the call-in thing, and was picked to go to jury selection downtown on the second day (I think). When you get to jury selection, you fill have to fill out a form in which you state if you are employed and if so, how many days of jury duty does your employer pay. If the answer is none, you will probably sit in the big room all day bored off your ass and never get called to a room for jury selection. Don’t quote me on this, but it seemed pretty clear to me that they sorted the group by how much hardship a person would suffer if forced to serve. I.e. the selection forms were placed in several groups consisting of a) unlimited jury pay and the unemployed, b) one week of jury pay, c) 2-3 days of jury pay, and d) no jury pay. So you are more likely to be picked to serve on an actual trial if your employer pays for it.
It seems to vary by courthouse. I’ve now been to a large downtown courthouse, where the procedure was as Pyper stated, and a smaller regional courthouse, where there was no paperwork – the judge just sorted it out on a case by case basis. At the large courthouse, I sat around most of the day before getting called to a panel (and then almost immediately dismissed). A friend, at the same courthouse, sat around all day before getting called to a panel at 4 o’clock, at which time he was told to come back the next day for voir dire. So he ended up at court for two days before being dismissed, while I only did one.
At the regional courthouse, because the judge sorted out all the hardship claims instead of having them sorted first, I had to come back the second day for voir dire since she spent the first day dealing with hardships. And then had to come back the third day, because she was sorting out the second group’s hardships. And then had to come back the fourth day because I was on the jury…
Upshot: bring a good book, a black pen, a snack, money for water/food, and an idea of what’s in the local area (library, coffeeshop, lunch place) in case you get released for a couple hours and told to come back.
I’ve never stayed all day.
I recall once that I stayed through the morning, we were given a very long lunch break, and we came back and got dismissed.
I’ve gotten called twice, both of them to Stanley Mosk Courthouse (civil cases). Once I got put on a trial and was there for just over 3 weeks. Last time I was sitting in a voir dire for 3 days and then got sent home.
I once got called to jury duty at the Beverly Hills courthouse.
One might think this would be a cushy affair with valet parking, gourmet coffee and a Gucci gift bag.
One would be wrong, very wrong.
They didn’t even have enough chairs and I wound up sitting for hours on a marble floor.
I was extra pissed that they actually chose me to be on the jury and I had to go there five days in a row.
In the court room for about an hour - then wait for about two or three hours - then back in the court room. Repeat daily.
Continents drift faster than that trial process.
It was a case that had to do with a supposed Gay hate crime against an undercover cop and I was the token Gay on the jury. The case was bogus and the accused was found innocent (rightly so). It only took us about 20 minutes to reach an agreement.
I’ve been called twice. The first time, I got to the point where the attorneys question potential jurors. The defense attorney asked me about my hobbies, and I told him I didn’t have much free time because I was finishing college and applying to grad school. That answer got me kicked off the jury. Not that I’m complaining, but I was confused about why the attorney didn’t like me. A friend later told me that attorneys like people to whom they can appeal to emotion rather than logic, so apparently I was too smart to be a juror.
The second time, they called me to serve on a panel (not sure how that differs from a jury), but a few minutes later the employee announced that the panel was canceled. I waited until 3pm, when they told us we could all go home. I wouldn’t mind jury duty if there wasn’t so much waiting involved.
If you’re assigned to one of the courts in downtown L.A., take advantage of it if you do get a case. Long lunch breaks and lots of interesting places to eat it are a far sight away the workaday lives of most of us.
As for the time spent, when I went you were done if you weren’t assigned to a case by the end of a first day; but you were technically assigned to a case if you were in the initial draw of prospective jurors and you hadn’t been excused yet. IIRC they finalized the jury, including me, late on the second day. It was a relatively straightforward assault-and-battery trial which lasted about two and a half days after that point. Overall I thought it an interesting experience; oddly enough it really did seem more or less like what you see in movies or TV shows. I find it rather interesting that the jury of 12 lay people is the decider of fact, and while justice does miscarry on occasion, I think in general it works pretty well.
If you do have to go downtown and you live on the West Side, you can expect to spend well over an hour driving home. The last time I had jury duty downtown, after the first day, I drove down to El Segundo so I could take the train from Aviation. But then I have almost no patience to sit in gridlock for an hour, and am quite willing to go out of my way to avoid it. If you do use public transit the court will give you weekly transit cards as needed.