On Thursday, I'll be a panelist at the annual meeting of the Pasadena Playhouse District. The business group has asked me to contribute to a discussion on (what else?) the economy and how small businesses can survive the storm.
I have to add a provision here: I'll be a panelist in Pasadena Thursday morning ... IF I'm not downtown at Los Angeles Superior Court doing jury duty. I've been on hold all week with the threat of jury duty hanging over my head, vanishing only after my 5 p.m. call to the automated juror hotline.
So far, I've postponed (and re-called) three interviews, rescheduled a hospital visit to a dear friend undergoing cancer treatment at City of Hope and will have to leave the Playhouse District hanging until Wednesday after 5.
I thought for sure I'd be asked to report on Monday. Nope. Tuesday is Cesar Chavez day, a court holiday. I've already been told not to report on Wednesday. That means Thursday is my most-likely-to-serve day (many courtrooms do procedural motions on Fridays).
In the past, because I was self-employed and had young children at home, I was always able to send in my hardship excuse by mail. The rules changed a few years ago, and now even small business owners and the self-employed (who don't get paid for jury duty) have to report on their prescribed day.
The last time I was downtown, a judge presiding over a complex civil trial swore me in under oath and made me explain to the entire courtroom why I couldn't afford to take weeks away from earning a living. "Doesn't your husband work?" he demanded. "Can't you do your interviews after hours or on the weekends?"
In the end, the judge excused me and several others who testified that their livelihoods would be at risk. But his sneering demeanor was contemptuous, as if he were letting off a bunch of slackers who didn't appreciate the importance of American jurisprudence!
How about you? Have you done jury duty lately? If you're self-employed, did the court understand that it would be a hardship for you to serve?
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