After more than a decade of passing laws as an assemblywoman, City Council member and county supervisor, Gloria Molina may soon be asked to pass judgment--as a member of a criminal trial jury.
After answering the call for jury duty several times in the past, but never being selected to serve on a panel, Molina said she was delighted earlier this week when she made it on a murder trial jury.
"I'm only an alternate, so I don't get to deliberate or vote, but it is fascinating," she said while hurrying back to the Hall of Administration on her lunch break with a telltale red juror's badge dangling from her coat.
"People saw me and said, 'What? You couldn't get out of jury duty?' " Molina said while acknowledging the occasional wave or stare of people who recognized her in the hallway of the Criminal Courts Building.
"I think everyone should do this," she continued as she angled for a spot on the crowded elevators.
But it can be especially rewarding for an elected official, said Molina, who often charges that her colleagues are out of touch with street-level realities.
"It's like anything else, it's better to see it up front. It gives you an opportunity to get a sense of what really goes on," she said.
The case involves a 1992 double homicide that occurred in Molina's district.
The supervisor was informed of the incident at the time, but defense attorney Frank Duncan said Molina did not recall the briefing.
Duncan and Deputy Dist. Atty. James Falco said it did not bother them to have a top county official on the jury.
"She has a right like any other person to perform her civic obligation," Falco said. "It never occurred to me to excuse her."
Times staff writer Andrea Ford contributed to this story.