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July 20th, 2003

About jury things

Last December, Penny was called for Jury Duty by Washington County, state of Oregon.
After explaining to the nice lady on the phone that she had just finished cancer treatment, they were very understanding and asked when she'd be available. According to the schedule we'd been given, we said 'About six months after treatment ends, she should be well enough to consider it.' Well, it was Friday the 18th of July when it came due, and we weren't sure it was a good idea, but at the uncleanishly early hour of 7AM we woke up (after not sleeping well until about 4AM) and made a quick breakfast, got dressed, and I drove Penny to the Washington county courthouse, as made famous by Ann Rule in 'Murder by Sunset'.
Yeah, the two giant redwoods in front are really there, but the downtown has been modernized a bit.

Anyway. As I had nothing to do with it, I was not allowed to assist Penny to get inside or anything, but she was feeling pretty high-energy, so I went home and back to sleep.

Woke up at 10, and she called me at 10:35 to come get her.
I got the quick recap on our way to brunch at Pho Huang.

The jury room is comfortable but bland, painted in that governmental non-color, without any notable art on the walls to excite undue passions in the jury, which is apparently supposed to remain totally pliant and without prejudice, yet which is supposed to also be alert and of average intelligence. To ensure that, they hand out forms to fill in, which must be filled in JUST RIGHT.

She was able to find a semi-couch-like seat, which wasn't too tall for her (knees not dangling unsupported in midair) but which lacked adequate back support.
They attempted to induce total somnolence with their TV Training Video, all about what would happen to you as a juror - except it didn't answer several of the questions they posed in the beginning of the video, oops. She compares it to a slightly more adult version of the junior high civics class films. They didn't make the men leave the room to watch their own jury movie, which she says she almost expected.

After the movie, everyone had a brief break for rest room, smoking, and so on - and all the women lined up for the two-seater rest room, except for the ones frantically gasping smoke in the area near the police loading dock where they have the Smoker's Coventry, which is set up in an un-approachable way so that no terrorists can tamper with the jury.

There had been three trials scheduled which could have gone to a jury.
First one was thrown out, as the police and the prosecutors had not observed proper constitutional guarantees in collecting their evidence, and the judge had to chide them disgustedly for screwing up. Or so implied the nice lady who herded the jurors.

After an interminable period, the nice lady returned to say, "Well, the defendant thought that this was just such a beautiful day out that she would just skip coming to her trial, so we're going to pick eleven of you to go home early."

Penny wasn't one of the eleven, and they were informed, no, you have no choice, you can't swap for someone who does want to go, it's all required to be random.

So she got to wait for another 45 minutes to an hour, whereafter the nice lady returned again, "Well, the lawyers have come to an agreement, and the last case has been settled without a trial, so you're all free to go now. Your jury duty for the county is complete, and you won't be called for another two years."

This does not, apparently, apply to federal or municipal court, which have their own rules. And, fortunately it was Friday - on Thursday they picked the grand jury for the next three months, and very few of those people were happy.