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The Jury System Is Guilty as Charged

June 24, 2002

The Times is right--we need more people, not fewer, serving on jury pools throughout our state ("Say No to Jury-Dodging," editorial, June 18). The legislation by Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews (D-Tracy) is a definite step in the wrong direction. To categorically exempt prison guards and parole and probation officers takes one whole class of people who could be very good jurors and gives them a free pass.

For the jury system to work we need people from all walks of life. That's one good way of getting fair, speedy trials in our court system. The state Senate should reject AB 1970 and send a message to employees and employers alike: no excuses, serve on a jury.

Michael Vallante



Your editorial writer appears not to have been recently subpoenaed for jury service in Los Angeles. The so-called one-day-or-one-trial "rule," wherein you allege prospective jurors "are required to report to a courthouse only one day," is horse puckey!

Large groups of prospective jurors are dispatched to courtrooms where they sit around for three to four days. Then attorneys and judges, in between other extensive court business, query each prospective juror over and over again with the same time-consuming questions to see if the juror should be excused, picked or challenged. The process is maddening to watch and listen to. More often than not, after being required to report to the courtroom for three to four days the prospective jurors, in droves, are dismissed. Indeed, during this period, more often than not, the dozens and dozens of prospective jurors are kept waiting in the hallways while other courtroom business is conducted on other cases--or while the judge takes a two-hour lunch break.

Alan V. Weinberg

Woodland Hills

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