Saturday, June 18, 2005

Jury Duty, Part III

And… Still Day One
The defense continues questioning the jury. One woman is a teacher in the Inglewood School District. She currently teaches kindergarten but is about to switch to sixth grade at a private school. Doesn’t the Inglewood School District have a zero tolerance policy toward fighting? Yes, she confirms, it does. And does she agree with that policy? Yes. Even though it means that anyone fighting gets suspended or expelled, regardless of whether they started the fight or were defending themselves. Yes, she still agrees. Does anyone else agree with this policy? No.

A couple of other jurors, when pressed, say that punishment for fighting should be decided on a case-by-case basis. The “defending himself” thing sounds pretty good, except that in real life it’s impossible to figure anything out based on what kids tell you, and who’s to say the kid “defending himself” didn’t purposely goad the other kid into striking first, precisely because he could blame that kid later? So, as long as expulsion is reserved for extreme circumstances, there is some merit to punishing everyone involved to discourage people from putting themselves in fighting situations. That’s my thought, anyway, but no one being questioned says it.

Another juror is a lit/comp teacher. The defense says, “I wish you could meet my son.” Joke! What a likeable guy.

The defense asks if anyone is vehemently anti-gun. Would anyone hold it against the client that there was a firearm involved in the incident in question?

One woman, with stringy blond hair, a thrown-together wardrobe and Ugg boots, says she doesn’t think anyone should have guns, not even police. Would he hold this against the defendant? “No,” she says, “If anything I’m predisposed to support him.” She also warns the prosecutor that she only trusts physical evidence, such as DNA evidence and the like. What she means is, “like on CSI,” but she doesn’t say so. The prosecutor explains the difference between circumstantial evidence and the other kind, and the kind she thinks she dislikes turns out to be the kind she likes; the names are misleading. Even physical evidence requires an oral explanation from a witness. But she’s unlikely to believe any testimony from a police officer. She doesn’t believe police officers. Could she judge for herself whether a police officer seemed trustworthy? No, she would have a hard time listening to any of them. Why? Well, she’s currently working on a documentary on corrupt cops.

Aren’t there any good cops? She believes the business of policing hardens people. So, no, not really.

Obviously, she is as good as gone. And the lawyers and judge all agree to dismiss her first. The prick writer is also out. As he leaves the jury boxy, he jokes, “You ruined my next script.” Shut up, prick. Good riddance. I think he acted like that on purpose to make them get rid of him.

After the first round of eliminations, in which seven people total are dropped, we recess for the day.

Day Two
Day Two is a half-day. They end at 12:30.

More jury selection. One highlight: Juror number one, Fat White Guy, falls asleep during the questioning of the new jurors. “Juror One, are you with us?” asks the judge, provoking much laughter from everyone, including the defendant. Juror One sits up in his chair as the judge warns him not to get too comfortable. Later, during a recess, I overhear him downplay the incident to a fellow juror. “I’m not doing anything. It’s not like the trial started.” Juror One is dismissed in the next round of eliminations. It’s like a reality show. I think people would like jury duty better if they thought of it like playing Survivor.

Lewd Conduct in Hollywood also gets dismissed. Interestingly, hardly any of the new jurors who sounded questionable get eliminated. Most of them are holdovers who survived the first round of cuts.

It’s frustrating when people’s stories are too embarrassing and private, so they ask to tell the judge and counsel in sidebar. That sucks. That means those are the juicy stories. We want to hear them. What else do we have to do? The reporter listens in on a headset.

Yes, there is way too much sidebar. This sidebar thing started out fun. Sounded very “courtroom.” But now it’s totally jumped the shark. Enough with the sidebar, your Honor.

Today there are fewer jurors and the family members of the defendant, or whoever they are, sit in the middle. One woman is very fat and barely fits in the chair. But she has tiny feet. To make matters worse, she wears heels. How does she support so much weight with so little surface area touching the ground? It must take a tremendous sense of balance.

One juror’s run-in with the law occurred in the ‘60s when he volunteered with CORE as part of the Civil Rights Movement. Sounds noble, but the defense has a problem. MLK, Jr. advocated nonviolence, so would the juror take issue with violence in self-defense? I start to suspect the defense’s case is going to be claiming self-defense.

I notice the prosecutor keeps track of the jurors, his notes on them, and their seating with Post-Its he shuffles around on a paper, where he has drawn the layout of the jury box. Good method.

The prosecutor questions a teacher. “If I slip up and use some improper English, you won’t hold it against me?” Is this another feeble joke to earn goodwill, or is he trying to coax out some secret reaction that means something?

More people get eliminated. Another round of people is called up before breaking for the day. Finally, I get called up. I take the first seat in the front row, where the alternates will sit. I’m on deck. When we return, I’ll be the second new juror to answer questions. It’s a cliffhanger. We break for the day. Come back Monday.

NEXT: At long last, Day Three! The lady from Guam who makes no sense! And Kenny gets interviewed! Will he be selected?


Tommaso Sciortino said...

Dang it kenny. Now I'm interested. Do I have to wait all weekend? Dang you and your writing skills. Hey! You should be a writer!

Meli said...

Ditto to what Tom said... I'm going to be checking tonight, and you had better update!