Last week I had jury duty. Spoiler--I was not picked to be on a jury. Still, I had to wake up very early (for me), drive downtown, be in a specific place for the whole workday and wait to see if I got an assignment. (It used to be easy to get out of jury duty, but when Los Angeles adopted the "one day, one case" rule they no longer allowed most excuses, and thus--I'm told--it's not unusual for the occasional Tom Hanks or Jack Nicholson to be in the jury pool.)
Not that I'm complaining (exactly). Certainly it's nothing next to the draft, which we no longer have (though many politicians long to return to it in one form or another--don't vote for these people). And it's certainly not an onerous duty. In fact, if you have nothing else to do, jury duty can be pretty stimulating. It's even a power trip for some, if they've got the wrong attitude.
Still, no one I know looks forward to it. I got my summons about a month ago and it is like getting a (mini-) draft notice. You're told what week you have to serve. You call in the night before to see if you have to come in the next day. I was hoping to be called early in the week so I could get it over with, rather than have it hang over my head.
So I phoned to check on Monday. Not called. Then I didn't have to come in on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. At this point my strategy changed. There's no guarantee you'll be called to serve, so with only two days left I'm hoping I may not have to go in at all.
I check for Thursday and, once again, they don't need me. Excellent. Just one more day. I can smell my freedom. So I call in Thursday night and...well, I've already given away the punch line. Not only did they burst my balloon, they picked the worst day possible--in my mind I'd already given up the week, so if I came in Monday and Tuesday and caught a case, I still might be out by the end of the week. But if I'm put on a jury on Friday, that means a whole 'nother week is gone.
When, late in the day, they announced we were free to go, it felt like being a kid at the end of the school year.
Just a couple questions, though. First, I understand trial by jury is a right citizens of the U.S. enjoy. But we've got an all-volunteer army. Would it be that hard to have all-volunteer juries?
Second, I've heard peace officers aren't required to serve on juries. I also seem to recall there was a time attorneys--officers of the court--weren't put on juries. As a lawyer myself, I think it's time we return to this noble tradition.