Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Civic Duty

Spent today in Downtown Los Angeles in the Criminal Courts Building doing jury duty.

I'm currently on a panel of prospective jurors being considered for a trial set to begin next week. I'm not allowed to write about the trial now but I can after I'm excused or the trial is completed.

What I can write about is how much Los Angeles County has improved the jury duty experience since I last was called about five years ago.

They've completely switched over to the one-day jury service system. Jurors are "on-call" for up to five days and if you have to report for jury service you only have to serve for one day or one completed trial.

Two improvements worth noting -- 1) Jurors now can check their status on-line instead of having to call-in. The on-line service is really easy to use and convenient. And 2) -- and this is the big one -- jurors now can complete the orientation on-line. Those who do the on-line orientation are allowed to report to the Courthouse 90 minutes later than other jurors. When you're fighting traffic to Downtown Los Angeles the difference between having to get there at 8 a.m. vs. 9:30 a.m. is huge.

They have a system in place to make sure you really do complete the on-line orientation -- it's timed so you can't blow through it completely and you have to answer a few quizzes to insure you've absorbed the information.

It's not like the questions are really hard. For instance, one question was "In which County will you be performing your Jury Duty?" I'd say that's not setting the bar too high.

Here's one other interesting tidbit I picked up today: Judges aren't allowed to be on Facebook. Never thought about it before, but I guess it makes sense.
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