That was quick

My jury service ended very quickly. We were asked to report to the jury room at 8:15 am. The room was full with about 70 people, with others seated on long benches in the hallway outside. We were given forms that we had to fill in saying that if we had been fully vaccinated, then masks were optional but if we were not or did not wish to disclose our vaccination status, we had to wear masks. But no one asked to see our vaccination cards. Almost all the people were masked. I could see only five people without one.

Compared to the jury waiting room in Cleveland, this was less well-appointed, perhaps because Salinas is a smaller city. The Cleveland room was very large, with comfortable chairs, tables, and racks of magazines and even jigsaw puzzles for people to pass the time while waiting. The best part of it was that inside that room there was a smaller room that was called the Quiet Room with no talking. I would usually sit in there. The building also had a cafeteria.

The room in Salinas was smaller with straight-backed chairs spaced apart, all facing forward.. They said that it used to have 200 such chairs close together but that covid precautions had reduced it to just one third the number.

At 8:30 am, the presiding judge came and gave us a little talk for about 10 minutes about how important we were to the legal system because everyone is entitled to have their case heard by a jury of their peers.

At 9:15 am, the administrator told us that the parties had settled their case and that therefor we were dismissed and our service completed. I was surprised that there was only one jury trial scheduled since there are many courtrooms in the building but perhaps most people prefer a bench trial to a jury.

I was home before 10:00 am.


  1. Bruce says

    I don’t think there’s very much liking of bench trials vs jury.
    I think the system pressures everyone to avoid wasted time and risk by accepting any settlement rather than any trial. How many innocent people end up pleading guilty to a lesser charge, rather than risking a long sentence for something they didn’t do because they can’t afford enough lawyer time to make a full defense? Only cases between two corporations with lawyers on retainer will usually have jury trials.
    Yay, America?

  2. DrVanNostrand says

    When I lived in CA, I got jury duty notifications twice. Both times, I was allowed to check in by phone. They had a voice mail system to call, and I could check if I was needed. I wasn’t needed either time, and both times counted as fulfilling my jury duty obligation, which was pretty great.

  3. bmiller says

    I served on a jury once. It involved some “rappers” who happened to also be drug dealers and general gun thugs. These rocket scientists tried to blow up the evidence room at the Vallejo Police Department. (It didn’t work). My favorite part of the trial was when the prosecutor introduced a loaded gun found in a car as evidence. The defense attorney thought he had it, and he asked, “whose car was it?”

    “Well, sir, it’s owned by so and so but the defendant usually drives it” The lawyer’s face just PLUMMETED.

  4. Katydid says

    I don’t live in California or Ohio. I’ve been called for jury duty 5 times; on a jury trial once. My state does the whole thing stupidly; you don’t know until 1 pm (after lunch) whether you’re needed for the day or not. If you don’t bring your own lunch, you could buy an overpriced tourist lunch for $20 -- $30 near the courthouse. And it costs $15 to park, plus a 2-mile hike to the courthouse (unless you want to pay $30 -- $50 and park closer…tourist destination).

    About 10 years ago, I got forwarded summons for jury duty in a county I hadn’t lived in for 30 years. My driver’s license and home property tax records listing a different county than the one they were demanding I go to would have been a hint that I no longer lived in that county.

    Jury duty wouldn’t be such a trial if my state weren’t so stupid about it.

  5. jrkrideau says

    I was surprised that there was only one jury trial scheduled

    The courts may be doing everything they ccan to have in-person trials. Ontario just stopped them in March 2020. There are probably desperate few running now.

  6. Mark Dowd says

    Not sure the pandemic is the reason for it. I was called to jury duty in Michigan pre-COVID and went exactly like Mano’s: showed up to the courtroom, waiting for a couple hours, then told the parties had settled and we were free to go. A trial going tonjury is probably pretty rare since both sides are risking so much and it’s a lot more expensive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *