Friday, February 01, 2013

Grand Jury? ME?


I think it's Debbie's fault.  Here's why:

Deb and I are talking on the phone Christmas Eve day...

  Deb:  "The Government sent me a Christmas present!"
  Me:  "Really?  What?"
  Deb:  "A summons for Jury Duty"
  Me:  (in an oh-so-snarky tone)  "Lucky you!"  which got me thinking...
  Me:  "Wow, I haven't received a Jury Duty summons in a few years.  I used to get them every year just like clock work."

The conversation continues with the details about the pending holiday, and we both go on about our merry way.

An hour later, I go out to get our mail and what do you think I found?  If you said "A Jury Duty summons", you're absolutely correct! I said, it's all Deb's fault!

When I looked at the summons, it looked different somehow.  I opened the envelope and saw that it was a summons for a Federal Grand Jury!  Huh?  Now I've served Jury Duty many, many times in the past, but I've never been called for a Grand Jury.  Not only have I never been called for a Grand Jury myself, I don't know anyone who has, so I had no idea what to expect.  The summons indicated that I needed to complete the questionnaire as soon as possible, and that I must appear on the date indicated.  It also stated that, if chosen, the jury could either be a six (6!) month or twelve (12?!!!) month term.

Holy. Smokes.


Today was my day to report for service.  Three hundred and fifty of us gathered in a Board of Supervisors building and waited to see what would happen.  After a number of people who requested to be excused went before a Magistrate Judge to plead their case, those of us left were directed to particular areas of the auditorium.  Then they began reading names from a randomly generated list.  If your name was called, you were directed to a particular seat while the rest of the list was read.  My name was the fourth one called.  I followed the directions and was seated in the first row.  After they'd read 23 names, they stopped.  Two names were called from our row - the first person called was appointed the jury Foreman; the second name called was appointed the Deputy Foreman.  Luckily (sorta), mine was the second name called, so I'm the Deputy Foreman.  The process continued for four more rounds, making a total of five Grand Jury appointments.

Our jury was named as a Tuesday Accusatory Grand Jury, which means that every Tuesday for the next six months, I'll be serving jury duty.

Oh. My. Goodness.

What happens on a Grand Jury?  Yeah, I didn't know either.  For our jury - an Accusatory (versus Investigatory), we will report each Tuesday to the same conference room to listen to cases.  We may hear anywhere from one to ten cases in one day, but each case will be concluded on that day - there will be no carryover.  The basic gist of our job is to listen to the case, listen to a Summary Witness, and decide if we feel that the case has enough substance to hand down an indictment.  If so, that means that the case will actually go to trial.  If there is no indictment, the case will not go to trial.

So...that's it in a nutshell.

I consider myself lucky  -  for a few reasons.  Number one, my employer will pay my regular salary for each day that I serve on a jury.  What a blessing!  That means we won't suffer any financial hardship - thank God.  Secondly, I am able to take public transportation, so I don't have the headache of driving in L.A.  WHEW!  Next, I think it will be really interesting! I'll learn more about the laws and our judicial system which I think will be both helpful and fascinating.  Lastly, it's kind of an honor, I think, to be chosen to serve in this way.  While the selection is completely random, I think of it as a privilege to have this opportunity.  Just one more interesting thing to add to my amazing life journey!

1 comment:

Patty said...

Wow! I'm sort of weird; I enjoy serving on jury duty. It actually sounds kind of exciting ... especially since you'll be getting paid for it. :)