I forgot to wear green on wednesday

Joined a new webring yesterday: the Pentax User Ring. Not sure if the code works yet, but it should soon.

I'm still trying to come up with a new name. I thought Neolux would be totally kick ass awesome, but it was already taken. *frustration*

So I had jury doody for the first time on tuesday. You may not care about my adventure in the judicial system, but I'm going to tell you all about it anyway. Yay!

So it all started around 6:40-ish AM, when my alarm went off so I would make it to Martinez in time. We were supposed to be there by 8:30, and I hadn't been up that early in ages. After following the usual morning routine, I packed a Nikon shoulder bag (which I had gotten free from my Nikon rep, coincidentally) with a couple books, a few magazines, and some comics. I set out on the road about 8:00.

I had been to Martinez a few times in the past, but only by train and only to be picked up by someone while on my way home to Danville from Davis. There was that one time, probably in the 4th grade, that my class went to see the courthouse, but it was so long ago that it doesn't really count.

The first thing you notice about Martinez is the smell. The city is the home of a dense forest of oil refineries, holding tanks, and smokestacks, giving it an odor not unlike that of a skunk convention. Fortunately, the smell didn't seem to reach downtown, which is where I was for the day. I drove around looking for a place to park and was surprised to not find any sort of parking structure. One would figure a place like a busy county courthouse would need a lot of parking, but I guess they couldn't figure out how to make a parking garage look like an ancient greek temple.

Once I found a spot I was reasonably certain wouldn't result in a parking ticket, I headed off in search of the Bray Building. As I'm sure everyone else did, I headed straight for the nearest ancient greek temple, noting when I got to the top of the stairs the sign that said "Prospective jurors report to the Bray Building" and pointed off to the right.

The Bray building was a boring one, in comparison to the grand collonnades of the neo-classically-designed buildings on the other side of the street. I got in line for the security check at the entrance. There were a couple metal detectors and an x-ray machine. I was beginning to wonder if I was late for a flight or something. After the interrogation and full body-cavity search, I got in line for jury duty check-in. The line stretched from the hallway, into the juror gathering room, all the way around the perimeter of the room, and back to the entrance, where the check-in desk was. The room was relatively big, about the size of a movie theater auditorium, and was packed to the brim with marginally-comfortable chairs and a few small tables. At the back of the room was a podium and a couple TVs. I was half expecting them to be showing Matlock or Law & Order episodes to get people interested in the judicial system. It was PBS.

Eventually, a woman called everyone into the room for indoctrination, er, orientation. She explained what'd be happening during the day, and showed a video about the process. I was half-expecting a 1950s film on how serving jury duty would help in the fight against communism, but fortunately it was more recently produced. Bad acting and over-dramatization aside, it was actually rather informative. We were then left to our own devices until called for, so I went out to the patio area to get a drink from the coffee hut that had been mentioned during orientation. I should note that the strawberry italian soda I got was very good.

I sat outside, read The Book of Ratings, and checked out the occassional hot prospective juror as they passed by. We were called back into the room after a couple hours for the first round of name-calling. My name wasn't called, so I went back to sitting and waiting. Around noon they let us out for lunch. I wasn't hungry, so I went wandering around downtown Martinez, checking out the myriad antiques shops. It was fascinating, seeing so much history crammed into those buildings. There were a lot of things I wanted to buy, but they were all asking for more than I thought they were worth. I didn't feel like haggling, so I just looked around, keeping an eye out for any old camera equipment. There wasn't much, and little of it worked.

I headed back to the jury assembly room a little after one. Some time later, I was selected as #11 of a random group of 25 jurors to go to the gas chamber, I mean, a court room (it was all so ominous. It felt like we were cattle being sent to the slaughterhouse). When we got there, I saw the most beautiful defense attorney ever, Miss Lee (yes, hotter than Lucy Liu). The prosecuting attorney was a young guy about my age, and even the court stenographer was pretty. I felt like I was in an episode of Ally McBeal, only without the stupid writing and anorexic lawyers. Both attorneys appeared fresh out of law school. The prosecutor was a deputy DA, and looked incredibly familliar to me, though his name didn't ring a bell. The judge was a rather old fellow who liked to talk. A lot. I sat in the jury booth, which was incredibly cool. The chairs there were surprisingly comfortable.

The remainder of my time in the courtroom was rather boring. We sat there while the judge and attorneys asked us questions, both as a group and individually. It appeared the defendant, a hispanic-looking guy about my age or a little younger, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon in this case was a board from a white picket fence, which I find oddly amusing. After the attorneys and the judge had asked their questions, they started dismissing people. Long story less long, I was dismissed at the very last second, for no apparent reason. I had never said anything that might have been objectionable. Matter of fact, I hardly said much of anything besides introducing myself to the judge.

Being let go was a little disappointing. I was sorta looking forward to being on a jury, since it would certainly break up the monotony of my everyday life. Still, I was glad to be done with it. I walked back to the downtown area to visit the antiques shops I missed at lunch, then went home.

Did I mention I got a parking ticket? Yeah, jury doody cost me twenty bucks. Poo.