Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Temp X -- On the Record

Our court system is a thing of beauty.  A jury of 12 randomly-selected, unbiased observers listen as the facts of a case are discussed.  Following that, they go into a secluded room and come up with a decision.  It's elegant in its simplicity, and it almost always (except O.J., Robert Blake, Casey Anthony and a few others) works.

The media -- and whatever Nancy Grace is -- get fixated on the trial itself and for good reason. It's where the action is.  But jury selection can be pretty interesting too.  How do I know this?  I was called for jury duty last year for a case involving someone getting hurt while riding the bus.  I am only posting this today because...well...I forgot I'd written this down.  Forgive me as I've clearly had many more important things to discuss.

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To make a long story short, the judge called every prospective juror into her chambers to begin the weeding out phase.  When it was my turn, I entered her office and was greeted by the judge, prosecutors, defense and a court reporter.  The questions were fairly banal as they asked about my occupation (underemployed assistant), my awareness of the case (I wasn't) and thoughts about the case's subject (wait, there's public transit in LA?).  But then we got to the part every prospective juror looks forward to -- hardship excuses not to serve.  Now I was fairly new to my go-nowhere job with an idiot boss, but I liked the steady (albeit paltry) income.  And I was concerned about what a one-month trial might mean as far as my income and even my job stability.

I brought this to the attention of the judge.  The following is our actual exchange...


The judge (50s), sits at her desk writing in her notepad.  Flanked to either side are four middle-aged, male attorneys representing prosecution and the defense.  A female court reporter (50s) sits across the room.  An imposing bailiff (40s) stands guard by the door.  Temp X stands facing the room.
Would he cut off your pay?

I don't know.  He might.  My boss is kind of a turd.

The judge chuckled as do the attorneys.  The court reporter struggles to find the appropriate key strokes to spell out "Turd."

(to the court reporter)
You don't need to put that on the record.

The court reporter looks to the judge to confirm the instruction.

It's alright.  It's true.

Not surprisingly, I didn't get selected for the trial.  And I would quit my go-nowhere job two months later with no regrets.  But I will always know that somewhere in the Los Angeles County Civil Court files I am on record as calling my old boss "kind of a turd."

It's the small victories.

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