“If it wasn’t for bad luck – I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”
Well I had really hoped I wouldn’t be here today or any day for that matter but as luck would have it, here I am in beautiful downtown Pomona doing my civic duty. That’s right, for the next several hours the Jury Room of the Superior Court is my temporary home. Yeah there are over a hundred of us here biding our time, all in the same boat. I actually thought I had a chance at not having to serve Sunday’s call informed me that I didn’t have to report on Monday! Thank God! Tuesday and Wednesday went just as well. But Wednesday’s evening when I went on line to check jury status for Thursday I found a message stating that I was to report at 9 AM on Thursday morning. Lucky me.
The following morning after packing up my laptop, Ipod and tablet, items that would be useful in idling away the tedious jury room hours, I was off to the courthouse. After mistakenly trying to enter through an employees entrance I finally made my way through the metal detector and scrutiny of security and took the elevator to the 7th floor. I am no stranger to the jury room and have long questioned the practices and procedures of jury service which often seem like a colossal waste of time, so it really came as no surprise when the clerk informed me that I had arrived just in time for the first break of the day, a half hour break! I’m sure this is a routine break so why couldn’t they have instructed me to come in at 9:30 instead of 9? God only knows.
After the break we sat for nearly two hours without a single group being called to a courtroom as potential jurors. During that time I read the newspaper, and did some writing. I have to say the jury room has a great wi-fi system it was incredibly fast. The high point of the morning came when a jurist fell asleep and began snoring loudly. People chuckled and made comments but no one waked him. Finally one man said aloud “Hey he’s only doing what the rest of us wish we could be doing.” True enough, if I knew I wouldn’t snore I’d catch a few ZZZ’s no problem. The guy continued snoring for several minutes then either woke up or changed positions, but you could no longer hear him.
I continued writing until we were released for lunch at 11:20 AM and told to return at 1:30 PM. Come on a two hour plus lunch? No wonder our court system is so screwed up! I stayed in the jury room until after noon before deciding to venture out for a bite to eat.With nearly an hour and a half to kill I decided to walk around old town Pomona to find a place to eat. Unfortunately there was nothing that I really felt like trying so I headed back to the courthouse and the comfort of air-conditioning, it was blazing outside.
It wasn’t even 12:30 when I got back to the jury room. With over an hour to kill before lunch was over so I settled in and searched through Netflix for a movie to watch while I munched on my bag of baked potato chips and drank my can of Squirt. Let me tell you life in the jury room doesn’t get any better than this. Finally at 1:30 we were called to order and roll call was taken. We were also informed that there were two courtrooms that they were waiting to hear from who would be needing jurors. So we sat back, relaxed and let the waiting game begin. I continued watching my movie.
At 2:15 PM the office phone suddenly rang and everyone of us stopped what we were doing and waited in silence. The way the room responded was actually pretty funny and reminded me of the old E.F. Hutton commercials on TV where everyone stops what they’re doing when E.F. Hutton speaks. A minute or two later the clerk came on the loudspeaker to announce our fate. Well the jury Gods smiled favorably on us as we were informed that both courtrooms had settled their cases and neither needed a jury, we were free to leave! With our service requirement satisfied everyone packed up their gear and made their way to the exit eager to resume our lives.
With that experience behind me I’m now free for a full year before I again have to worry about seeing a jury summons in the mail. As always serving my jury duty was about exciting as pulling teeth, efficiency in action it is not, but more like an exercise in futility. The court system needs work. It needs to be overhauled. There has got to be a better way than to disrupt the lives of thousands of people each and every day on the off chance that they may actually get on a jury. I believe in a system of justice and that everyone deserves due process under the law, but our current system is an injustice to every citizen called upon to serve jury duty. Serving on a jury should be an honor not a pain in the ass! Something need to be done soon, hopefully before I get my next jury summons!