Monday, July 8, 2013

(empo-jooryst) In which I make a false assumption

Eventually, the testimony ended, the closing arguments were heard, and twelve of the fourteen people sitting in the jury box were dismissed to begin deliberations.

The two alternate jurors remained for a few minutes. The judge thanked us for our service, but reminded us that we were not fully released from service until the jury reached (or didn't reach) a verdict. The judge had no way to predict how long this could take, since every jury is different. The process could take a few hours, or it could take weeks. Either way, someone at the court would call us to tell us what the verdict was.

That was on a Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday evening, I checked to see if the case was still listed on the criminal calendar for Friday. It was, indicating that the jury was probably still going to be deliberating on Friday.

Similarly, I checked the criminal calendar again on Sunday evening. The case was still listed for Monday.

On Monday morning, I received a call from the court. But it wasn't the call that I expected. The court representative stated that there may be an issue with one of the jurors, and that I may need to join the jury. If I had to do so, how soon could I get to the court in Rancho Cucamonga?

After I told him, I figured that this probably wouldn't affect me, since I was the second alternate and presumably wouldn't be needed unless two jurors dropped out.

Wrong, John. The court representative explained that if a juror did drop out, they would draw lots between the two alternate jurors to see which one would be added to the jury.

At this point, I had to start telling co-workers and various family members that I may be back on jury duty again. I would find out within the hour.

Just a half hour later, the court called again. I was instructed to go about my daily business, and that I would not be summoned to the court - that day.

That was on Monday. On Tuesday, I received a second call from the court. But this time, they had reached a verdict.

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