Jury Duty-a-Go-Go


7:48am – Keith drops me at 555 W. Temple. Jury duty is at 7:45am at 210 W. Temple. Oops. Glad I wore tennis shoes.

8am – Long line at security check-in. One woman has her scissors confiscated. Of course, there was a message on the call-in line last night about not bringing scissors, knitting needles, etc. And why, if you did forget to remove the scissors you just happen to carry around with you, are those scissors HUGE?

8:20am – Orientation leaders explain to all 300 of us that most in the room have attempted to postpone or get excused prior to today and that, while one-on-one interviews are discouraged, they are available, for people facing extreme hardship for having to do jury duty. Half of the occupants of the room leave to go downstairs, speak with interviewers one-on-one to try to get excused.

8:40am – I notice most of those folks have returned to the room, one-by-one.

8:42am – There is a very “traffic school” vibe to this room, but somehow, a few of us seem happy to be here. I mean, why not? Gotta do it at some point, right?

8:55am – I smell first juror steeped in liquor.

9:10am – I learn we can donate our mileage checks to charity (mine will be $1.20).

9:14am – I learn May is the month to aim for jury duty as that’s when there is Juror Appreciation Week (which includes games, snacks, and Salsa dancing).

9:18am – I learn we are welcome to grant interviews to media reps downstairs after our trials end.

9:22am – I learn there are fresh baked cookies for sale on 13th floor.

9:23am – I wonder why on Earth most buildings do not have a 13th floor, how the whole “bad luck with 13” superstition got started and why we indulge that superstition by removing row 13 from airplanes, 13th floor from buildings, and even apartment 13 from apartment buildings.

9:30am – We are encouraged to use cell phones in this room, but asked to keep our language polite and volume low.

9:32am – I learn we can say “sidebar” to the judge during selection if we want to answer a personal question privately.

9:35am – I learn that DASH costs a quarter and we can take it to Alvero St.

9:50am – Roxanne, sitting next to me, points out a sleeping man and says, “That’s the way to behave on a panel during jury selection. They won’t want you if you fall asleep easily.” She may be on to something.

10:23am – I am the last juror called in the 2nd group to be considered (the first group was for a 44-day trial, phew!). That means I get to carry the master lists of the potential jurors’ names and the time sheet, which I must return to the jury holding people on our first break. Also, if no one collects us in 30 minutes, I must rally and return us all to jury holding. Wow. Is there a runner-up who can take over these duties if I fail to perform?

10:30am – Our group of 50 has two David Henrys. One is sent back to the jury pool, but first, the two David Henrys shake hands. I find that amusing.

10:40am – We’re in the audience area of the courtroom, and our judge tells us we may only bring in water, adding, “What you spill today, you may sit in tomorrow.” Our judge is a very pleasant man named Michael M. Johnson. He seems to enjoy his job and the process of justice. Makes me eager to start the process itself.

10:42am – I notice the attorneys checking us out, making notes, during the judge’s opening remarks. I wonder what they are noting, what they look for and what things they can discern from looks alone, how often they are right, etc.

10:44am – As the judge goes over the charges and asks whether any of us has a relationship with anyone on the witness list, the victim’s family, or the defendant, I realize that the defendant is the young woman seated right in front of me. I had no idea that defendants were in the courtroom during jury selection. It’s not that I find that odd, I’m just surprised, as it’s something I hadn’t considered.

11:20am – After the judge has acknowledged the fact that potential jurors, at this point, have had the opportunity to postpone or get excused in writing prior to today, by phone prior to today, and again this morning in one-on-one interviews, he says, “If you’re in this room, you’re not likely to be excused. Still, if you have a case of extreme hardship, I will hear it now.” Finally, the last of 20 potential jurors speaks as to why he should have an excuse on the basis of hardship granted. I find it embarrassing to hear what excuses are given — as if they hope their potential bias should be an excuse, rather than waiting for the attorneys to toss them for exactly that, and then call their jury duty served — and I wonder why people booked holiday travel tickets, non-refundable, for the week after their first day of jury duty. Duh! I mean, c’mon! Have common sense.

11:23am – The judge is nicer than I would be. Four potential jurors are permitted to postpone (are not excused, which is what they wanted) due to the judge’s holiday cheer. Of course, had they stuck around, they may have been dismissed anyway and then jury duty would be over. Now they have to come back for mandatory service in December. Pff. Have fun, folks. Of course, as I’m feeling cynical, I realize they’ll all just say they have Christmas travel plans and try to get out of it again. I am fascinated that anyone would get to the point where they are physically at the courthouse, having already committed half a day to the process, and then try to get the day not to count. People… odd.

11:30am – I notice the prosecutor has a three-ring binder with the accused’s last name in print, followed by “MURDER” written big and bold, facing out toward us — very clever.

11:35am – The judge finishes his instructions and the first 20 potential jurors are interviewed. I remain in the audience.

11:38am – I am shocked at how many of the potential jurors have been victims of crime. No… I’m not shocked — I’m saddened.

11:42am – The scary sleeping man from Roxanne’s earlier observation is in that first 20. He, awakened abruptly (I think it’s an act), says he’s a psychotherapist, as is his ex, who is also now his fiancĂ©. We laugh. Guess the old coot’s not so bad after all.

12:17pm – I spend $10 on a bologne-on-white sandwich, chips, bowl of fresh fruit, and a latte. What a racket!

12:20pm – I sit with a woman who is in another jury pool. We chat about family, about non-case-related elements of our experiences, and the fact that jury selection can take longer than a day. She has been in jury selection for two days, with no end in sight. She mentions that she is very scared of being selected, as the defendants in her case are two gang members with tattoos on their foreheads. I am glad our case isn’t gang-related. I hadn’t even though of that element.

1pm – I call my voicemail to find nine new messages. Keith is concerned about whether I got here, after realizing he dropped me off at the wrong courthouse. I call him to let him know I’m fine, to come up with a pick-up plan, and to see how his day of book drop-offs is going.

1:30pm – The woman I am convinced is the defendant’s mom goes into another courtroom. Oops.

1:32pm – Sleeping codger man is late. The judge asks the clerk to go check the bathrooms. I notice a total of four missing potential jurors. Two of them had asked for sidebars due to their crime-victim history. I wonder if they were excused. One of the missing is the woman whose son and husband are in prison. The fourth missing is the old coot, as I already mentioned. I’m realizing I have developed a very definite attitude problem with this guy. Wonder what that’s about.

1:35pm – I like our judge. He’s nice, has a good sense of humor. I really hope I do get on this jury. I’d like to be a part of this process. It truly is fascinating.

1:38pm – Three of the missing jurors are now back. Only one was excused (the woman who works with the DA’s office as a representative for social services).

1:39pm – A new potential juror is put in the DA’s office woman’s chair. He has had the same car stolen three times. He jokes that he got it back twice, and the third time, “let ’em have the damn thing.” We all laugh.

1:41pm – I notice a potential juror smacking gum, despite the sign at the courtroom entrance: “No Gum-Chewing in Court.”

1:42pm – I realize I’ve rolled my eyes about a thousand times today. I am not a very tolerant person.

1:44pm – Potential jurors begin listing their positive and negative interactions with cops. Some people are listing things from many years ago, saying these interactions traumatized them… “Oh, but I can’t recall when it was.” More eye-rolling from me, I’m sure.

1:45pm – Okay, this is so funny. This woman KNOWS the park where the murder took place. She begins preaching about how awful that park is. After hours of having heard the victim’s name, the date the murder took place, the location, etc., suddenly (I suspect when this woman realizes she hasn’t been excused for any other reason she has listed that she’d hoped would get her sent out), she breaks down. “Oh! I know that family! I know his father and his sister. Oh, lord, I do know them. I just now recalled the name.” Dear GAWD!

1:55pm – We learn that gang affiliation may, in fact, be brought up: Hoover Crips.

2pm – I am now almost certain that the two women (one pregnant) and two small children from the hallway are here with our defendant. The adults take turns coming into the courtroom and observing the selection process. I begin to think, it’s just so sad — whether the defendant is guilty or innocent — for members of her entire family to have their lives put in turmoil while this type of case proceeds. The crime took place almost two-and-a-half years ago. I can’t wait to look up the case info online when I get home. I recall that we have been instructed not to do such things, if we are selected for jury service. Yeah, right.

2:20pm – It is simply fascinating to hear people attempt to throw out phrases and pieces of information, hoping they’ll trigger something that will get them dismissed when nothing else has worked so far. I’m wondering why people ignored the dress code and security issues clearly stated on the phone call-in line. Are people that reluctant to follow directions, or are they insubordinate? Or is it something else altogether? I am really turning this day into a little sociology class.

2:45pm – Potential juror makes a broad statement about the right to live, another makes a statement about gun control. I wonder how much of this talk is evasive action on their part and how much is legitimately something about which they are passionate.

3:45pm – I’m excused. I was called to the jury interview area, met with mildly amused reactions to the way I answered the “occupation” item (I mean, come ON, how could I give just one answer and have that sum up what I do?), and called up for a sidebar so that the judge, attorneys, and court reporter could get details on my history as a victim of a violent crime, why no charges were pressed, how able I would be to remove my experience from the mindset I’d use in serving on a jury in which part of the defense would be that the defendant had been the victim of a similar crime prior to the murder, etc. Of course, the defense attorney wanted me. The attorney representing the people did not, and I was sent on my merry way. Well, not so merry… the day ain’t over yet!

4pm – Back into the pool. I’m hoping they don’t call me to another panel mainly because, at this hour, no panel would be decided and I would HAVE TO come back tomorrow. A veteran of juries (four times serving, and sat in the jury box from the first round in our selection process, was excused just before I was), to whom I refer as “the Susan Lucci of our case,” and I joke about taking a very long pee break so as not to get back into the pool in time for a call. We’ve been warned that we could be called as late as 5pm (but could be dismissed as early as 4pm).

4:10pm – We’re told to fill out mileage donation forms. Everyone gets excited because this means we’re on our way out. I notice that the extremely high-maintenance woman who needed every instruction repeated at orientation this morning is getting hands-on help filling out her mileage donation form from the jury pool supervisor. I think she should NOT donate her $2 and buy a class in DUH, if at all possible. I find out she’s a government employee. No. Comment.

4:18pm – Final roll call and dismissal. I am one of the last four names called. I feel like the fat kid in elementary school gym class, but I am so relieved to finally be called and sent on my way, I give out a “Woo hoo” and turn in my badge.

4:24pm – I’m at the corner of Temple and Broadway waiting for my baby.

4:33pm – He’s here!

And so my civic duty is done, and I’m ineligible for jury duty service until November 22, 2003. God bless America.

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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1 Comment

  1. Bonnie Gillespie December 16, 2015 at 11:14 am


    After hours of searching, I did manage to find this…

    LAPD Online

    Still hungry for more info. Hm.

    [originally posted on 11.22.02 – 5:04 am]

    [addition made 16 July 2006 (due to redesign of LAPD website)]

    New link to info.

    Man Shot in His Vehicle by Unknown Woman

    Friday, July 7, 2000

    Los Angeles: On July 7th, 2000, at 8:00pm, Mr. Jason Hawkins was seated in his vehicle, which was parked in front of 717 West 48th Street. An unidentified female Black was seated in the vehicle with him. For reasons unknown at this time, the female exited the vehicle, armed herself with an unknown type handgun and shot Mr. Hawkins numerous times. The female then fled the scene on foot.

    Mr. Hawkins sustained numerous gunshot wounds to his upper and lower torso. He was treated at the scene by Los Angeles Fire Department Personnel. He was then transported to a local hospital for further treatment but subsequently died as a result of his wounds.

    As of this writing, no motive for the shooting has been established. 77th Street Homicide Detectives are conducting the investigation and are asking that anyone with information regarding this incident to please call 213-485-1659 or 213-485-2389.

    The victim has been identified as Jason Hawkins, a 30 year old resident of Los Angeles.

    This press release was prepared by Officer Don Cox, Media Relations Section.

    Posted by: Bonnie at April 24, 2004 02:00 PM


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