Sometimes, when I'm really sure about something, I forget to knock on my head (née Wood) and naively imagine results that couldn't be further from fact. Yesterday was one of those days.
Six weeks or so ago I received another
jury summons and closer to the appointed day I called the Malibu Courthouse for instructions (and yes, I am well aware that jury duty in Malibu isn't the biggest hardship in the world). I was told to check in Monday at 8:30 AM and so I did...with another 125 or so people. We were called in before the judge and the attorneys, given the run-time of the trial and asked if that would present any financial hardship. If it would present financial hardship you were asked to stay in the courtroom and explain the circumstances. Those people, half of whom I'm sure were lying, were dismissed. The case was then explained in simple detail to the remaining 50 or so of us and we were given a 20-page questionnaire which we were asked to fill in (in detail), and return it to the jury coordinator after which we too were dismissed and instructed to return first thing on Thursday morning.
Thursday was even more chaotic and crowded than Monday had been and I got to talking to a few of the other potential jurors and found that some of them had initially been called on the previous Friday morning and some where from Tuesday and Wednesday's calling. We had been whittled down, from the initial hundreds, to a core group of about 60. Out of this core group, 24 of us were sat in front of the bar and the remainder in the gallery seats.
Each of us in the smaller group were questioned by lead attorneys for the plaintiffs and the defendants...in depth. I have never known jury selection to feel quite so much like one big audition. But then this is Malibu/L.A. and there are a lot of unemployed actors out there and maybe, just maybe, there's a producer or a director or a casting agent in the jury pool. Or maybe one of the attorneys has a cousin or a friend in the business and will say casually over dinner, "There's one potential jury who has, oh hell I don't know what it is, but s/he has it."
And slowly, one by one, the group was dismissed. This one owned stock in the defendants' company. That one couldn't be impartial and listen to both sides. This one taught the ethics of law and assured the attorneys that he was their worst nightmare...and so on. One woman stated that she already had found for the plaintiffs and that there's no way she would change her mind.
So yeah, I was picked, in spite of some compelling (I thought) reasons to dismiss me. But then I thought they'd excuse my new best friend on the jury, the judge's wife, too. This trial is slated to finish on July 18th. I have been assured by the judge that this trial WILL finish on the 18th and that I'm free to leave the country, as planned, on the 22nd.
Let's hope for an early settlement.