September 20, 2006 (Wednesday) – Selection Day 2
This is the second in a series of entries on my role in the jury in a double murder case in the county of Contra Costa, California. You can see a more detailed view of the case including links to these posts and other items at this page.
8:30 am – We file into the court, section 28, at the courthouse. People start getting to know each other in the jury pool at this point. I had found out the night before that our judge was the one that presided over the Laci Peterson case. The judge is also technically retired but under some kind of special appointment.
8:45 am – The clerk starts to take roll. We’re missing about 5 people out of roughly 105 people. I found out this morning that they pulled another 50 jurors in the afternoon after I left the first day. The courtroom is packed pretty tight at this stage.
9:40 am – The judge dismisses us until about 10:20 or so because the jurors still missing are en route to the courthouse. Apparently one thought it was the next Wednesday. So, one out of 103 got it wrong. Yep, this is starting out well. Another guy that came in late at 9:30 had stated he heard 9:30 and not 8:30 am. Again, one out of 103 got it wrong. I just decided to sit around and watch an episode of Stargate Atlantis that I had missed the week before and had made a copy of so I could watch later.
On a side note, it turns out the head bailiff is a retired Marine Corps soldier and likes to sing so while the judge is chambers she starts to sing to us. At least we have some entertainment. She’s not bad, actually.
Note: It turns out that for $2 a month AT&T DSL customers can get access to their WiFi hotspots at most McDonalds, Barnes and Noble, and UPS store locations. I signed up for that because on day I noticed I could see the WiFi hotspot at the McDonalds across the street from the courthouse. It will make it easier to stay in touch with work at least.
10:30 am – We get started again. Everyone is present. The judge admonishes some of us because people have moved from the numbered seats. We hadn’t been told yet but the first 25 seats are very important. I’ll give more details about that later. They start to discuss the process for jury duty selection. This is when we find out that the folks sitting in seats 1-25 are the only ones that really matter in the process. Everyone else doesn’t matter until you get into the those first seats.
There was an obnoxious juror, who I will call Jim Bob, today that was making comments after the judge excused someone such as, “So you’re the one that decides if we get out of jurty duty” Later on today the judge excused him. I really didn’t agree with that. Obviously, you can’t have that guy on a jury because you know he’ll disrupt it but he should have held him in the jury pool until it was completely seated so as to punish him for his behavior. It sends the wrong message.
There are two other obnoxious potential jurors. One runs a PR firm and he’s trying everything to get out of jury duty. He’s kind of whiney for a public relations guy. First it’s a press conference with the governor (nice name dropping there buddy). The judge handles him pretty well. He tells him that he doesn’t think the governor would mind if he was doing his civic duty for a jury rather than being at the press conference. The second one is some sort of civil lawyer. He really has bad taste in his suits. Whoever picks out his shirt and ties really needs to be smacked around a bit. He’s name dropping and trying everything to get out of jury duty. The judge is also pretty much blowing him off at the moment. I have a feeling that both will get dropped, though, for one reason or another.
They’ve asked a few questions but it’s really slow going so far. They say it will speed up a bit more as it gets going. At this point I’m skeptical but hopefully they will prove me wrong.
11:30 am – A few other jurors and I head off to lunch. We have about 90 minutes before we have to be back so we took our time getting back.
1:15 pm – We get back to court and they excuse a few more people and question a few more and then at about 2pm or so they excuse us for the afternoon because there is some court business that has to be attended to. I’m writing this a few days later so I’ve forgotten exactly the reason but I figure at least I can head home and get a couple of hours of work in.
Let’s do a little summary here. I’ve taken off two days of work for a grand total of about 4 hours of jury selection, if that. This is getting off to an amazing start. At least I still have Internet access at the courthouse.
I’ve started to prepare my co-workers that I might have to serve on a long jury. I don’t think I’m going to get picked based on the people that have been excused so far but it’s really hard to say. We haven’t really gotten into the process it seems so there are still a lot of questions from the other potential jurors and myself about how all of this really works. I wish there was more information given so at least we knew what was going on.
Tomorrow: Day 3 – Jury selection continues.