Friday, September 19, 2008
A combination of County courthouse and City police station, this is probably one of our more Minimalist buildings. I'm not exactly sure how pools of potential jurors are drawn up, but I've heard they use voter registration rolls to call people up for duty. American readers will know what I'm talking about. Whenever a criminal or civil hearing or trial requires a jury of twelve people to listen and decide the outcome, ordinary citizens are "called" (with a paper notification in the mail) to appear at a designated courthouse. The court calls far more people than will be required, so the lawyers from both sides of a case can ask each potential juror pertinent questions before they are appointed. They want to make sure you aren't badly biased against one position or the other before hearing the specific facts of a case first. When twelve people are chosen, everyone else can go home, usually with a sigh of relief.
It is the strangest thing, but in Mendocino county, I find I am called almost once every year! When I lived (and voted) in Sacramento, I was called up only one time in fifteen years. Does Mendocino have so many more crimes per capita than other places that we have to be called so often?! It's a big mystery to me, and is one of the hidden "downsides" of living in this enchanted domain.