Monday, April 12, 2010

Jury Duty Ventura

Jury Duty in Ventura is really a relaxing day.

In the dozen years I've lived here, I've been called for Jury Duty four times.

The first time I was called in with the first group and ended up the foreman of the first jury of the day. The lawyer and prosecutor were both very young, and after the trial they asked if some of the jury could stick around to talk to them about things they were trying to do, which I did. It took two days, and it was fun.

The second time, my group was never called, so I never came in at all.

The third time, I realized that I could call in and choose which day of the week I'd like to come in. That was awesome! I picked a Friday, knowing that cases don't generally start on Friday. The whole time I was in, no jury was ever called, and we got to go home at about a quarter to four.

This time, I picked a Monday because it is a busy week for me, and it was the only day that I could easily miss work without having to get a bunch of stuff organized.

Many people complain about jury duty, but like they taught us in Government Class in high school, a democracy doesn't work without people willing to do their civic duty. I suppose I'd have a different view if I weren't able to collect my normal pay while here, but since I do, it is interesting to see our justice system at work. What we prospective jurors were told was that many people ask for a jury, hoping that there won't be one. By us sitting there, many of those on trial will just go for a settlement or plea bargain instead of going to a jury. You never can tell how a jury will see things, and if your guilty, you'll most likely get a better sentence if you go for the plea bargain.

Since I've been here, I think I've seen every kind of electronic gadget available to keep people entertained. Laptops, cel phones, Kindles, and even the just released iPad are all here, as well old fashioned things like newspapers and paperback novels. There seems to be a greater cross-section of the public here too, perhaps a reflection of the economy and rising unemployment.

In Ventura, you don't have to stay in the jury room, though it's a pretty spacious spot. There is a TV room and a small business center with space for your laptop. Better still, however, is the cafe. The food is pretty good, and there is also a gourmet coffee shop.

I had my own mug, so I was drinking pretty good coffee for a buck (as opposed to the $1.89 that was charged if you didn't have a cup). Wi-Fi is available, the chairs comfy, the tables clean and plenty of outlets were situated throughout.

The other spot that I've spent time at in the past is the fountain in the courtyard.

Again, Wi-fi works and there are outlets on the pillars. Today, it was a bit chilly, so though I did spend some time looking at a mural based on Bless me, Ultima, it was too cold to stay outside very long. On a good day, though, there are several benches in both the sun and shade, making a nice place to read and people watch.

With a 90 minute lunch break, I was able to walk to nearby Chipotle and relax for lunch. There are several other places nearby to eat as well, including Jersey Mike's, Presto Pasta, I Love Sushi, and a few more, all in reasonable walking distance.

I'm posting at about 2:15 pm, and they haven't called a jury yet.

8:30 PM

I did get called with a group of 50 of my cohorts at about 2:30, but I had to ask to be excused. The judge said it was going to be a three week trial, and I couldn't do that. I was bummed.

But by the time we walked back to the main jury room, our day was over. We were all dismissed at 3:40.