Monday, October 17, 2005


This Week I Am An American In A Very Substanitive Sense...

...for I spend this week "On-call" for jury duty. This, like voting, should be something I do with relish and abandonment, alas it is not. I avoided it for years, but post-OJ the LA court system makes it pretty hard to get out, which makes it pretty expensive for someone like me, self-employed and paid by the hour.

Why is it such a pain?
  1. The enormous amounts of wasted time for jurors. Some of it is bureacratic, but much of it is for the convenience of lawyers and judges. They are asking me to provide them a service, virtually uncompensated, the least they can do is treat me with humanity and conform themselves to my time constraints, as they are getting paid anyway.
  2. The banal nature of so much of it. I usually get called to civil court, not criminal. 99% of civil cases are people being jerks towards each other and all I ever want to do is tell them to go settle it like men.
  3. The fact that I never actually get seated. I have been involved in too much litigation, have a lawyer for a father, and am just smart enough that lawyers hate me. I cannot be manipulated. In other words, I'm a blogger. Which just increases the time waste factor.

LA County made it much easier when they tightened down post OJ by going to the "on-call" system, no longer does it cost a week, it only costs a day, unless you get seated on a jury, then it costs the trial.

Given the passive nature of jury duty during the trial, I think there should be heavy investment in technology to ease the juror burden. View the trial on the internet from home or office. Skip the trial and work purely from transcripts during deliberation, with video avilable when the veracity of a witness is in question. Certainly they should do something to guarantee me actually serving if they are going to waste a day of my time.

Bottom line is this -- jury duty is part of the citizen franchise, government should work as hard to make it a good experience as they do voting.


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