I've never been on a jury before and despite practicing law for over 13 years, I've almost never set foot into a courtroom or watched courtroom proceedings in person. Unlike most people in the jury pool, I was actually happy to get selected for the jury, and I found each separate part of the process - jury selection, trial and jury deliberations - to be really interesting. I even enjoyed the experience.
I was chosen to be jury foreman, which didn't really mean much except that I tried to lead some of the discussions in the jury room (everyone was very civil for the most part) and got to speak to the judge each time we told him that we were deadlocked. I think our jury was fair and that we properly and carefully analyzed the case. I have always wondered how a jury of 12 random people would interact when weighing justice vs. a guy's freedom and I'm happy to say that I would be comfortable if our jury ever had to decide my fate! I will admit that, even though it wasn't our "fault" and I don't believe that we could have reached a unanimous verdict, walking out of court without being able to reach a verdict - any verdict on any of the charges - felt like failure.
The other nice thing about having jury duty, was that I got to spend our lunch breaks every day exploring a little of downtown LA. I almost never get downtown - it seems far and very foreign. So each day during our 90 minute lunch break, I'd spend a little time catching up on email and making work calls and then the rest of the time walking around. I was struck by how hilly Downtown is. The whole area is up one block, down another. I saw some cool stuff downtown and feel like I only barely scratched the surface. There are a bunch of small parks and areas to sit, there's public art, a bunch of food trucks, a wide variety of places to eat and some pretty fun people watching.
A few favorites (all within a quick walk of the courthouse):
- Angels Flight Railway: The "shortest railway in the world" connects Hill Street to Grand Street near West Third. Who knew there was a funicular in Los Angeles? It's only 50 cents each way, but I didn't actually ride - I wanted to take the stairs in order to check it out and get pictures and was planning on going back to ride it, but I never did.
- The Last Bookstore: Independent bookstores are so rare these days. It seems like only niche ones or ones with character have any chance. The Last Bookstore definitely has character. It's located in a former bank and a fair amount of the bank interior is still in place. The bottom floor is organized like a "regular" bookstore with various sections according to genre and the books in alphabetical order by author. About 80% of the books are used and 20% are new. They have a good combination of popular titles, classics and specialty books for different interests. Upstairs on the mezzanine, though, it's a totally different story. The mezzanine floor is a walkway looking over the first floor (like an atrium). That "walkway" area is full of bookshelves. There are also little rooms (former offices and vaults, I think) off the walkway. Every book upstairs is $1. Supposedly there are over 100,000 books up there and the best part is that they are not really organized at all. Some bookshelves only have trade paperbacks and some only have hardcovers and sometimes there are a bunch of sorta similar books in the same place, and some bookshelves are organized by color (blue, teal, white, black, rainbow below), but that's about it.
- Bradbury Building: This building (located at South Broadway and Third Street) is another downtown landmark. From the outside it, doesn't look like anything special, but inside is wild, with wrought-iron railings and glazed brick all shown off in the open inside, lit by a glass roof five stories up.
(photo borrowed from "Inside the Frame")
I recognized it from pictures, but it's also been featured in tons of movies and TV shows. You're not allowed to go above the first landing (because there are offices, including police offices in the building), but it's worth it to stop in and see it in person.
- Grand Central Market: Located on South Broadway between Third and Fourth. This open air "market" has food stands (mostly tacos and Chinese food), a produce stand, a butcher, a place selling nuts and seeds and stuff like that, a coffee shop and other vendors. It was bustling during lunch and all the food stands were really busy. There weren't really any vegan lunch options, but it was still fun to walk around and check out for a few minutes. And if you eat meat, you could overdose on the variety of tacos there.
Other things I would check out if I had more time:
- Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels: Supposedly beautiful to see. They have a cafe and gardens where you can sit and read.
- MOCA: Certainly, 90 minutes isn't enough time to really experience the museum, but I'm sure you could see some highlights.
I'm glad to be done with jury duty - and able to get back into my regular training schedule - but it was a good experience, both learning about how our criminal justice system works and exploring Downtown LA.