Jury Duty

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I had jury duty last week. I had jury duty two weeks ago (It’s taking me forever to get this post out. Ack.) It was weird and kind of fun. I learned a lot about our justice system. It’s very laborious and monotonous and painstakingly thorough with just enough criminal craziness to make it interesting. However, I’m glad it’s over and I can get back to my regularly scheduled life. Phew!

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It was weird going to court every day like it was my job. I got dressed up (sort of, I put tights and shoes on instead of my usual leggings and slides). I had a regular 8 am commute in traffic (a ride from Payam because my car was in the shop).

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I packed a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches everyday for my hour lunch break. I sat by a fountain and listened to birds sing in the dilapidated civic plaza that was probably amazing back in the 70’s. It was very strange for this freelancer who hasn’t gone to “work” since 2003.  I think the hardest part was being stuck in a squeaky chair for hours with nothing to fidget with. I never realized how many “breaks” I take during my work day, and by breaks I mean, going to the bathroom a million times, stopping to wash the dishes and the whole kitchen between tasks, playing with my dogs, stepping out for a bit of gardening etc etc… I have a pretty flexible schedule usually and I guess I get up and down a lot more than jurors!

Thankfully the case was interesting. I learned a lot about credit card fraud. Did you know criminals steal cards and then re-write the strips on the back with different information? It’s a whole racket. Our guy was career burglar with bolt cutters and a change of clothes in his backpack and everything.

It was really sad. I felt terrible for the defendant’s pregnant girlfriend in the audience. It wasn’t an easy case. I was going to share the whole story here but it was a lot of typing and in the end I still don’t know that we ruled 100% correctly and I’m not sure I could handle anyone weighing in on what went down.

It was one of those decisions that could go either way, depending on how you define a certain word. We were not allowed a dictionary or any expert advice on the law outside of what the lawyers and judge provided us. This meant we were left to discern using only our common sense as a group. Common sense among twelve people can mean a lot of different things!  We haggled over it for hours. I thought it might even end up in a hung jury but in the end we were able to persuade the last straggler to one side and we all went home and got on with our lives.

I wonder how the defendant will go on with his life. We were not part of the punishment decisions. Will he rot in jail? Will he change his course? Will his girlfriend be okay? I have no idea. But I do know that we really tried to do the best we could for him.

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On one of the days we had a three-hour lunch break. The judge had a prior engagement that was really important so they scheduled court around him. This was great for me because I love exploring. I was left in downtown Santa Ana with no car so I walked all over. I visited the old courthouse. I had coffee at a quaint little coffee shop.

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I walked up and down the streets, ogling the piñata and fancy quinceanera dress stores while women in carts tried to sell me cut up pieces of melon and mango. It was pleasant.

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On the last day Payam and the girls came and picked me up and we decided to have dinner at a diner that I had seen on the commute. I mean, how could I not want to go to a restaurant that has a cute kawaii heart in it’s name? It actually turned out to be really good. The menu was extensive and since we were the only customers anywhere in sight at 5pm, we had great service. It was the cherry on top of my fun little excursion into a town I never go to. I should go back and finish exploring all the places I saw but I probably won’t. I tend to keep to my own neighborhood, sadly. So until next time Santa Ana!