Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jury Duty

I've been called to jury duty before. And I've been called to grand jury duty before. Yesterday was the first time I actually sat on a grand jury.

A bit of background. I was called for grand jury while still living in LA a loooong time ago. At that time, the county grand jury sat every Friday for 18 months. Yes, you read that right. I was in process of moving to NY at the time and would be leaving in two months. So, naturally, I was excluded from service. Glad I was. The jury heard the prosecutor's case and reviewed evidence from the Hillside Strangler case. I have a strong stomach, but that might have been overboard, even for me.

Next, in Northern VA, I was called for jury duty. Just plain ol' jury duty. We had a call-in number to use the night before we were asked to appear. I called, only to find that the perp had pled out. Great. Service satisfied.

I was intrigued by county grand jury in VA. Wondered what it would be like. Part of the nearly 50 cases we reviewed were ridiculous. Petty theft (case of beer, a can of Coke and $20 from a vending machine), lots of Walmart thefts. And then there were the dog fighting cases. Not an actual fight, but arrests of people selling pit bulls trained to fight. (I now know what a good fighting pit bull goes for. Must work that into a novel someday.)

And then there were the slimy cases. Child pornography. Murder. Elder abuse. Child abuse. Having sex with a minor. For the life of me, I have no idea what drives people to commit some of these crimes. Still, I got plenty of "material" for future novels. None of it will take place in VA, so I'm safe. Besides, by the time I get around to writing about some of this stuff, the cases will be closed and I'll be able to use the newspaper accounts for research.

You'll have to excuse me. I need a hot shower to wash away alime.