Monday, April 21, 2008

Jury Duty

It isn't that I don't like doing my squirrel duty. It's just that they make it awfully difficult.

You see, at first they tried to send me to the airport courthouse. And it was the first time in a long while that I really felt my lack of car. See, a driving commute from my house to that courthouse would have been about twenty minutes (OK, forty in rush hour). But, because our bus system is divided, I would have had to travel nearly two hours in a very roundabout way to get there. And that doesn't include the risk of missing a transfer or otherwise ending up (very) late to serve.

It seems that court assignments for Jury Duty in LA are done in a random(ish) manner. So instead of a courthouse which is convenient to you, most jurors are called to serve at courthouses which are within a twenty mile radius.1 For those of you who don't realize it, there is a reason that distance in LA is measured in driving minutes, not miles. Twenty miles can be a very long drive.

From a legal standpoint, I suppose I can reason this to a certain extent. After all, you want to avoid a jury of your peers who actually know you. But in Los Angeles, where neighbors rarely know each other, and most people spend more time working in districts or cities which are quite some distance from their homes, it does seem a bit puzzling.

So I filed a request for relocation due to an inability to reasonably reach the appointed courthouse on time. This went back and forth for a little while, with apparently varying opinions over whether or not my lack of automobile constituted a true hardship and justified a change of venue. Finally, after much confusion, and a near-warrant situation, a friendly jury selection employee helped to get my jury duty rescheduled much closer to home.2 To a trailer, in fact. But I can walk there!

Although this means that I will have to spend earth day in a courthouse. And that has me a little sad.

So, if you have a chance, go out and plant a tree for me, will you?

1 Q: Why can’t I be summoned to a courthouse closer to my home?
A: Summoning you to the court location closest to your home is not possible for several reasons. First, you are not summoned based on your place of residence, city, or zip code. All jurors are summoned by a computerized process. The assignment is made taking into consideration the location of the juror and the location of the court which need jurors at the time the juror is summoned. Jurors are summoned from a 20-mile radius of a given court.

2 Fellow walkers, a tip: if you do not have an excuse (such as care for a small child or sick person) other than your lack of car, skip trying to write back for rescheduling and go straight to the phones. They'll help you with what language to use, and the difference between an inconvenience and a hardship, for problem-free rescheduling.


adventure.N.introspection said...

Yes, it's hard in Los Angeles. I sympathize especially since I used to live in the Bay Area where the environmental consciousness seems so much greater. I recently tried to grow a tree from one of those kits that they sell at the National Parks, and all I got was a lot of lichen and mold. I still have yet to get my money back, but I think that I will get a seedling next time as that seems a little easier. In your honor, I will pick up something this weekend at Hashimoto Nursery, and then plant it in a larger pot when I have some time.

Bawdy the Squirrel said...

Yay! I love tree planting. If you have room to plant trees in the ground, you can get them free --

BrandCulture Talk Blog said...

Here's another perspective on jury service in Los Angeles!