entry locked until 04.01.12
8:33 PM, Tuesday, March 6th, 2012:
This is actually the building next to the courthouse I was at, but it looked a lot cooler. LOL
Of course I'm writing every detail I can remember about this. To everyone who likes watching court stuff on TV, this entry is for you. It's long, it's surprising, and it's quite interesting. Here's a bit of a "trailer" for it I guess.
Rather random since of course I can't take pics/video in the coutroom. It'll all make sense after you read everything. Alright... the story:
Thursday, March 1st, 2011
Am I the only happy juror? This is cool as shit to me. Somehow I have never been selected for jury duty in 18 years of adult life - so I"m really excited. Granted, I'm unemployed living off savings from my IMAX stock and oh yeah, the rest of my life is awesome, so why wouldn't I be in a good mood. Yay I even get to hang out in downtown LA... I never have a reason to do THAT. I'm just happy to have direction for the day! And if I get on a case? SHWEEEEET. Everyone I know says they never get picked, but I'm pretty determined to get on this thing. And if everyone else is determined not to? I'll probably be chosen.
After three hours of waiting (where I was able to just work on website stuff) I get my number and I am 1 of 35 people vying for 14 slots. Contrary to what I had heard from others, they brought everyone in and asked everyone questions... and then kept EVERYONE there no matter how obvious it was they weren't going to be chosen. Particularly pissing off the dude next to me who straight up said: "you guys are killing me on time, please let me be dismissed I have a lot of work to do.". By the end of the day, even though it was clear some people didn't need to come back, the judge had us ALLLLL come back the next morning just to hear who was selected. LMAO. Judge was totally fuckin' with that guy. But man, what lengths some people will go to to get out. They ask you if you know any cops or lawyers as well as anyone who was arrested or had a crime committed against them. Inevitably everyone has (except me strangely - though I completely forgot my co-worker was murdered in 2006) . But the people that really want out (and clearly it works) embellish shit big time. One girl had been robbed (this case is for attempted robbery), and said that even the word "robbery" scared her. LOL. She just couldn't POSSIBLY try this case fairly. Even if I didn't want to be on the jury I would just tell the truth and see what they pick. You know? Like, what's the point of embellishing or being all over-dramatic about it? But again, the judge never let anyone go. All 35 had to come back the next day. Ha.
Friday, March 2nd, 2011
So the dismissals start with the defense and prosecution going back and forth and excusing people. It went as assumed, and I was on the jury. Strangely, they didn't excuse one woman who clearly couldn't speak a lick of English. They excused most people in this category, but for some reason they were fine with her. I'm thinking "oh, great this'll be fun to work with later.". Finally the judge pulled them aside and supposedly explained they should let her go. Made me think the lawyers were inept. We had our 12 and 2 alternates and boom we went right into the case. Cool.
I've always thought of criminal cases being about whether or not a crime has happened. What I never realized is they have jury trials on attempted crimes? Wow. How the hell are we ever going to agree on this? The entire thing is circumstantial evidence, it's all here-say, all testimony... yet it went to trial - so clearly we can convict this guy on that. The defense isn't saying "there's no evidence so this is a non-issue.". So apparently that's a part of the law I never knew. Then again I guess I really never thought about it. Clearly if I guy attempts to rob a bank and fails, it's still a crime. So here's a quick description of what the prosecution says happened:
A 19 year old kid and his father are walking back from a taco stand and a guy is yelling obscenities at the kid. The kid turns around and the guy gets in his face, says "gimme everything you got" and has his hand in his pocket simulating that he has a gun. The father comes around the car and gets his kid in the car and the dude spits on him as they take off. They call the police (who find him still around there amazingly) arrest him, and here we are...
The defense, in their opening argument, says this was a heated argument about cutting in line and though it was intense, at no time did he say "give me your money" or simulate having a gun.
Immediately I'm thinking this is nuts. How the hell do we determine THIS? So the prosecution brings the kid up and right off the bat asks if the kid had ever seen this guy before he came up to him as he was walking back to his car. He says no, and in the cross-examination the defense never addresses that.
If your defense is that this was an argument about cutting in line... Wouldn't you bring that up? The father paints the same picture, though he admits he saw the dude going crazy on the vendor when the kid was transporting drinks and food back to the car (the kid's mom and girlfriend were in the car). Shockingly, the defense NEVER says something like: "isn't it true that you were arguing about your place in line and he came up to you as you were walking away and continued to argue?". Nothing. All the defense does is try to show discrepancies between the account the kid gave to the police and the testimony he just gave. There are legitimate issues there (he told police he was pushed, then gave testimony that he was never touched, etc.). All of that would be perfect to set up reasonable doubt... if there was an earlier fight/argument. Without that, why does it matter? Why else would the defendant come up behind the kid in a taunting way? The defense never contests that he came up to the kid. Never contests that he was yelling obscenities, that he was calling the kid a pussy, never contests that the kid had never seen him before that moment... so what the hell was the point of the opening argument saying it was a fight about cutting in line?
And then we cut for a weekend recess. Grrrrrrr. The cool thing is that it was like a cliffhanger in a TV show and I really couldn't wait to hear what happened the next day. Presumably this will be over on Monday... but will everyone agree? I'm certain there're will be people that say he's innocent simply because it's so flimsy... I mean, he didn't end up having a gun, he never touched the kid - you can get convicted for that? Someone yells at you, you say I was being robbed and that's it? Yet... What the fuck was this guy doing running up behind some kid and yelling at him if he had never seen him before? Ae they pleading insanity? LOL. All sorts of questions in my head and I can't wait to see what happens on Monday.
Monday, March 5th, 2011
What the shit was that. I don't even know what to say. This is the biggest cluster-fuck ever. If you have reasonable doubt that the lawyers are idiots what's your verdict?
So right off the bat - they put the defendant on the stand! Wooo hoo! This is the big ass moment. Right away, the defense goes into the fight about the kid cutting in line. As if the earlier testimony from the kid never having seen the defendant before never happened. I'm immediately struck with - "why the fuck didn't the defense ask THE KID about this?" To me? That's the entire case. If there was an argument before hand and he had ANY other reason to go up to the kid... then there's reasonable doubt. If he just randomly went up to the kid at his car? The only motivation would be to rob him. So they describe the situation and of course their side of the story is abso-fuckin-lutely different than last week. Kid tried to cut into line, he told him to go to the back. After the defendant got his food and had eaten it, he noticed the kid staring him down (the kid is half this dude's size - lol) in the back seat of the car and when the kid got OUT of the car, the defendant went up to him and got in his face about staring him down. He admits he was drunk and intimidating but says he never attempted to get money from him. The worst he did was throw a fake punch to scare him. And since he establishes that they had the argument in the line before? This all kind of makes sense. I couldn't wait for the prosecution to go at him...
...and then SHE completely goes along with the fact that there was an argument even though her own witness said she had NEVER seen him before. ?!?! Who the hell isn't doing their job here? What? Huh? And then, you ready for this? This deserves another paragraph:
They go for a sidebar, with the defendant still on the stand, he turns to me and says "I didn't ____". I look confused, and he repeats it, smiling "I didn't ____" I think he said I didn't "do it" or I didn't "touch him". Obviously I didn't ask him to SPEAK UP BECAUSE WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPNENING? I look around and no one notices it... I look at him like he's nuts and I smile as if to say "are you actually trying to talk to a JUROR right now?" They come back in and I'm still shaking my head and I'm thinking should I raise my hand? Should I mention this? At this point I'm dying to see how this ends and if I mention this will I be let go? Earlier in the day I was suppressing the urge to take a picture in the courtroom for ths site because I didn't want to do anything to get thrown off the jury and now this? I ain't missin' the end of this! Do I say something in the deliberation room?!!?! FUCK. How bizarre.
They continue, the prosecution decides to center on the fact that at no time did the defendant say "I didn't do that" when he was arrested. In fact the defendant claims he was never told why he was arrested. Which is kinda hard to believe because the defense (I assume to make us feel bad for him) admitted he had two prior felonies and was on parole. You're telling me this guy got arrested without ever asking what for? The lawyer brought this up and the guy did look like he was lying. Like, even though the defense brought up that he had been convicted of two felonies prior when the prosecution asked him if he had ever been arrested? He paused for a long time, and then finally said yes - like he wasn't sure. He was also asked if he had any tattoos on his head (it was brought up to show he was intimidating to the kid) and he said no... even though I was looking right the fuck at huge tattoo on his head. I think he assumed he let his hair grow long enough that it covered it up but I could almost read it. "South" something. Clearly the dude is lying through his teeth about anything he can. But why didn't the prosecution point that out? Shouldn't she have him stand up and show the jury his BIG ASS TATTOO he just lied about?!!? She kept trying to get him to admit that he knew what he was being charged with and he contended he was never read his rights, never knew anything until he got a piece of paper to fill out at the station. Doesn't really matter to me - I still can't get over the fact that NOTHING ABOUT THE "argument" WAS BROUGHT UP when the kid was on the stand or the policeman?!?! Huh? Why can't she call those people back up?!?! Then the defense rests and the judge says they'll do closing statements after lunch. HUH? Why is anyone OK with this? I haven't the slightest idea what happened now... so inadvertently that means the prosecution didn't prove the case? Even though I know this dude is lying? EVEN THOUGH HE SPOKE TO ME DURING THE TRIAL AND TRIED TO PLEAD HIS CASE? WHAT? LOL. What kind of goddamn courtroom is this? By law am I supposed to mention this? I think I have to. What the fuck do I do? I HAVE TO KNOW HOW THIS SHIT ENDS. LOL. Can I request a sidebar AFTER the closing statements at least? Right before we make our assessment? DAMNIT. If they dismiss me without letting me see the end of this I'm gonna lose it. LOL. Dahhhhhhhhhhhh. I ate at a Subway down the street from this picture...
Hipstamatic pics look so awesome. That looks like 1955 to me. Especially with the movie.
After lunch they say their final arguments and more than anything I'm just annoyed. We go into deliberations and I just start talking. I ask if anyone saw him speak to me, and thankfully 4 people had. Everyone said I should just shut up about it. I think they wanted this to be done. LOL. I asked why the hell they never asked the kid about the argument and everyone felt like the lawyers were inept. Someone asked if anyone would volunteer to be the foreman and I raised my hand. Everyone was happy with that 'cause I was such a loud mouth already LOL. Our first vote? 6 Guilty, 3 Not Guilty, 3 Unsure. Fuck.
I will admit, I was in the "unsure" camp because I had to wade through the mess the attorneys created. So we all sat around and talked about all the holes in the case for 90 minutes until we were dismissed. Everyone was confused, everyone was frustrated and 2 people honestly couldn't speak english well enough to be on the case. One guy was certain it wasn't attempted robbery because he didn't have a gun - so it was only attempted battery (which I don't believe is even a crime). When you have that little understanding of what attempted robbery is - what the hell happens next? Hopefully we find out tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 6th, 2011
And so we come to today. Before we went in to the deliberation room, I ran into Chris Darden from the OJ Case!! How cool is that? I actually stopped him, shook his hand, and thanked him for how much of his soul he put into that case. I felt so bad for him after that. I really am in an LA Courthouse, huh. This is the hallway he was in where we were waiting:
Our courthouse was directly to the right, off-screen.
So, overnight the more I thought about it, the more it came clear what this came down to: You either believe the kid is telling the truth or you believe the defendant is telling the truth. Since their stories are so different it comes down to that. Right away in the deliberation room I admitted I was now a "guilty". Because the ONLY reasonable doubt comes from the testimony of the defendant who was proven to be a liar. The tattoo thing really got to me. The fact that he paused on questions that we already knew... the fact that he tried to paint the kid as "staring him down" when the kid was half his size... whew. And also, it was now more than clear why the defense never asked the kid about the "argument" - it never happened. It would've killed her case. The defendant had this long, drawn-out story about him cutting in line, them exchanging words... the kid told the prosecution he never even saw the dude... it's just all a lie. I have no reason not to believe the kid - so voila: guilty. With no other evidence? And jesus, why would the kid risk testifying against this dude otherwise? If there was no attempt at robbery, the family would've just driven away. This is a loooooooooooot of work just to lie.
We still had 2 "Unsure" and 2 "Not Guilty" votes and another woman and I just kept asking them questions and trying to help them understand. After another hour we were down to 10-2. The problem though, it came down to the people that didn't know english very well. One guy was Asian (he also didn't think attempted robbery was a crime - therefore he had doubt) and the other guy was Hispanic. That guy just smiled a lot and said he was confused. LOL. It was actually kind of funny and endearing. He was also pretty willing to go whatever way everyone else did, 'cause he just didn't understand what the hell was happening. Sad that it comes down to this, but the defense kept him on the jury - so it's their fault. We all focused on the Asian dude (who I'll call Bob) who just couldn't get his head around the issue of "attempted" robbery. And honestly?  It is kind of a murky "crime". None of us could believe it went to a jury trial.

We finally just decided to stop talking about the case for a bit. I got up and walked around. We talked about other goofy stuff. I actually really liked everyone in the room. An unbelievable cross-section of society. Every age group represented, several races, gender was 7-5 in female. Every walk of life. When do you get to hang out with people like this?
Then, Bob went to the bathroom, came back and said to me "OK, he's guilty." And we all looked around and went - shit, we're done. I started filling out the paperwork as the foreman and we rang the little buzzer. Then I got nervous as balls. Do I have to read this shit to that gangsta mofo who was trying to talk to me? I assumed I did, so I read over the thing "We the jury, in the above...etc" a couple times. It was lunch time by this point so we figured that's where we'd be headed, but they had us finish it right away. They took our verdict, gave it to the judge and then thankfully, whew, the clerk read it out and said "Signed by the foreman" and never said my name. The defendant never BUDGED. I watched him the entire time, and it was as if he knew the entire time. I expected some reaction. Nope.
And they dismissed us and voila we all vanished. We didn't know anyone's name, we'll never see each other again... crazy huh? But to tell you the truth? I think there should be professional jurors. I think the deliberations should be taped, and we should pick from a large capable group as opposed to every goddamn citizen. Some people are cut out for this, and some people are NOT. I like the "jury of your peers" thing, but the hispanic dude who was smiling and confused? That's bullshit. The defendant didn't deserve that. Then again, we may have been totally wrong in our verdict - who knows? Everyone felt good leaving the court house and I have no reasonable doubt that he went up to that kid to grab his cell phone or wallet. I grabbed a burger at Grand Central Market...
...and headed home. It was nice. Felt like I was a whard-working downtown husband coming home to see his pregnant wife. Shit, I just said that didn't I. Now THIS entry has to be locked? FUCK. I should just edit that.
No, I shouldn't. 'Cause I thought about being a dad the entire goddamn time I was there. I loved working downtown and coming home to Talya. It's a life I will probably never have and honestly there's far more positives to working at home, but I like playing "every man" every now and then. Anyway, glad I got picked, glad I'm a nerd and wrote about it, and I was glad to have an unlocked entry this month until I gave away the secret at the end. (sigh) Oh well. Just one more month.