Wednesday, April 06, 2011
As I write this, I am sitting in the 11th floor of the LA County Criminal Justice Center, a lovely mid-60s architectural mistake in downtown LA. I am in a room of about 150 other semi-conscious, reading, semi-comatose, sleeping, and staring-off-in-the-distance souls. This room is called the "Juror Assembly Area". Perhaps a better name would be Terrestrial Purgatory. But this Purgatory has wireless, thank you God!
As I look at the Catholic Encyclopedia, I note that "the sleep of peace" may be a part of Purgatory. A number of those around me are already there.
This place is quite unremarkable. TSA style screening upon building entry (I have been "wanded" twice), a dim and completely uninviting lobby, administrative staff who appear as if they should be cast in a zombie movie, and elevator service that employs all the efficiency of the Victorian Era. It takes from 5 to 10 minutes for one of four elevators to arrive at whatever floor you are on. Hello, LA County....they now have an app for that!
There are about 150 people in this room. About 120 of us have been waiting all day, with only one jury being empaneled to leave the room. This seems strangely odd, and suggests to me that the County might want to take all this money being spent on jury room furniture and painfully slow elevator performance, and instead hire a group of competent judges and/or retired lawyers who can certainly try cases without the need for those of us in this waiting room. I am fine for giving the judiciary more power in this regard. Or, take the money and throw us all a Toga Party. Either would be fine. Its the sitting and waiting that is beyond comprehension.
A feeling of suspicion about the jury system also comes from a number of years of experience as an occasional court expert witness in my work. A number of times I have testified and looked upon a panel of jurors, knowing with relative certainty that these good people had no idea what I was talking about as an expert, and were more interested in when break time was, or what was on TV that night. I know I am feeling like that right now. I would rather watch Dancing With the Stars for an entire day than suffer through this immense and interminable bore.
It is said that "Good things come to those who wait". I am hoping for a pony, at least.
Posted by Steve at 3:43 PM