I reported to San Diego's Hall of Justice this morning for my first jury duty as a Californian.
Jury duty is unlike anything else. It forces you to put your entire life on hold. While I know it's all part of being a good citizen, it feels like a big waste of time when you have to do it.
I've never been picked to hear a trial. In Louisiana, I was always rejected by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike as soon as they figured out what I do for a living. But here on the Left Coast, being a news reporter apparently doesn't automatically make you a courtroom pariah.
I didn't qualify for any of the automatic service exemptions (self-employed, a full-time caregiver, over 70, a physician) this time, so I arrived as instructed at 7:45 a.m. and waited like everyone else. And waited. And waited. And waited.
By lunch time, about half of the 500 or so people in my pool had either been released or sent upstairs to a trial. After lunch, my waiting continued.
But then something strange happened. Instead of wanting to be released, I started hoping that my name would be called. It was like being back on the grade school playground and (along with the kid with the orthopedic shoe) being the last ones chosen for recess football.
But all of those childhood scars melted away when the woman on the courthouse PA system announced that juries had been seated for all of the day's trials, leaving the rest of us free to return to our normal lives.
At least this guy provided a little entertainment. I watched him during our breaks. He spent the whole day pacing in front of the courthouse steps ranting about conspiracies, corrupt trolley engineers, Scripture, anal penetration, the military and eternal damnation.
I suspect he's a regular at the Hall of Justice.