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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-02-28 09:24
Subject: Time
Security: Public
Tags:jury, personal, portland
I got down to the courthouse a few minutes after 7 am. The instructions said the building would open at 7 and the jury room would be open at 7:30. The instructions also strongly admonished me not to be late.

The building opened about 7:20, forcing all of us to stand in the near-freezing rain until then. The jury room opened about 7:50. Once I made it through the very long line into the jury room, I was told we'd be on hold til 10 am, because the courts follow the public school closings, and the public schools are on late opening today. Of course, that info wasn't widely available at the very early hour most jurors had to get moving to be here.

Figure 50 jurors here, as of this writing, they've burned about 50 person-hours in inefficiency.

...

Given that we're on hold, I went out for a bit of breakfast. That was a mistake, because when I returned the security line to get in snaked down the block. We all stood around in the freezing rain while people went through the checkpoint one by one.

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Department could stand to take some lessons from airport security. The x-ray machine has very short belts at both ends, so people can't cue up their belongings. Every time someone sets off the walk-through scanner, instead of having a diversionary inspection point, the deputies stop the entire line to do their wanding and their pat-down. Guess what? Random people in off the street with little or no experience of security lines set off the scanner constantly.

The result is a line that processes several people a minute, at most. With two lines and 100+ people in the freezing rain, that's bad math.

...

It's all about time. As I've observed before, the public's time has zero value as a resource constraint here in the court system. By the time we get to point of being selected for empanelling, this process will have consumed 250 man-hours. At $1.20 an hour in compensation.

Note that I'm not complaining about being here. Not at all. I'm thrilled to be here, and very much hope to be selected. But the process by which they use the resource that me and my fellow citizens represent is deeply flawed, and abusive of our time and goodwill.
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aries_jordan: Despair
User: aries_jordan
Date: 2007-02-28 17:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Despair
They need to learn from San Diego's jury system. We have one day/one trial -- if you aren't selected for a trial on the first day, your service is done. The line to get in never extends more than 20 people, and there is food available INSIDE the courthouse. Also we seldom have freezing rain, although we do today.

My sympathies. I hope nobody takes it out on the parties or their lawyers.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-02-28 17:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, Multnomah County has one day/one trial. They just don't have the infrastructure to move 100 jurors in and out quickly or efficiently. Not to mention the thousands of people that flow through the sole public entrance for the sake of their parking tickets, and so forth.
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juliabk
User: juliabk
Date: 2007-02-28 17:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We're one day/one trial, too. It's nice. I seem to get called about once every couple of years or so, but it's not too onerous.
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juliabk
User: juliabk
Date: 2007-02-28 17:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wow! Something Harris County seems to have actually gotten right with regards to the legal system. The jury room for us is not in the courthouse. No security checks. Once we're in, we're not allowed to leave except for during scheduled breaks when smokers can go outside where a bailiff or two will be with them. Inside, we have a 'break room' with machines as well as a person selling coffee, tea, juice, milk and in the mornings, some damn good breakfast burritos. Oh, I think there are also muffins and bagels. The only time we go through security is after being empanelled (and I have no idea if that's how that's spelled). Once on a panel, then we're escorted to the appropriate courthouse. They're all right there together, maybe a block or two away. Depending on which one it is, we may go above ground, or we may hit the tunnel system.

When I had duty in December, they grabbed everyone they needed for panels by 10 AM and sent the rest of us home. It generally takes longer to fill all the required panels, but they schedule fewer cases that close to the holidays (12/15). I have been there until about 3 PM before being released.
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floatingtide: Alien
User: floatingtide
Date: 2007-02-28 17:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Alien
"The Multnomah County Sheriff's Department could stand to take some lessons from airport security."

Ouch!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-02-28 17:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yah. You know I feel about TSA.
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juliabk
User: juliabk
Date: 2007-02-28 17:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's a scary thought.

I get searched every time I go through security because unless I'm renting a car on the other end I refuse to carry my current license with me. I know me. I'll lose it. This is not idle speculation. This is experience. So, I keep the next most recent one (with the correct address) and put up with being searched every time. Ok, most times. Sometimes they don't care and let me through. In any event, some airports do a very nice job of being thorough without being rude and intrusive, while others, well, don't. Love Field in Dallas is *terrific*. I was pulled aside, as usual, and that was fine and man, the flow of passengers never missed a beat. They were down to one security checkpoint (multiple stations, but a single group of them) as the other one or two were down due to construction. We were *moving*. It was fairly amazing, even with the nonsense over fluids.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2007-03-01 03:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh. I did jury duty a few years ago, only it was during the three-day format method. Never got called (it was the week between Christmas and New Year's, though). The security line was a pain then.

Didn't expect to get empaneled, though, as at the time I was a lot closer to my past experience as a complex securities litigation paralegal than I am now. I figured that after I rattled off the various firms I'd worked for as a temp, I'd probably have a conflict of interest *somewhere.*

Now that I'm a special ed teacher....hm.

Security's always been tight at the Federal Courthouse, though. I remember being behind the Rajneesh legal team while they were carrying briefs into the Federal Courthouse for one of their litigation--good heavens, talk about a thorough search (and I was backing slowly away from them, very glad I wasn't wearing *anything* red and/or a brown beaded necklace!).
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russ: politika
User: goulo
Date: 2007-02-28 18:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:politika
You should send this as a letter to the editor to all the newspapers in the area, and to some officials!
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Deborah Layne
User: deborahlive
Date: 2007-02-28 18:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dude. The news about the court opening late was on all three local news channels (I know you don't watch TV, so...) as well as posted on their websites early this morning (I saw it at 6:10). You've been in PDX long enough to know that if one snow flake falls, you better check the closings on one of the news channel websites.

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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-02-28 18:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, I was up and rolling at 6. I didn't know it was snowing because, well, it wasn't at my house. Or at the bus stop. Or at the courthouse.
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scarlettina
User: scarlettina
Date: 2007-02-28 19:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My immediate reaction was typical Jewish mother; it wasn't about their abuse of your time, it was about you staying dry and I had it without even thinking about it: (Cue Yiddish accent) Did you have a hat, a hood, and umbrella, something? You shouldn't go into the courtroom looking like a drowned rat! (End accent) It's really scary when the genes kick in. That said...

Based on your past accounts of Multnomah County Courthouse's time management skills, I'm not surprised to hear all this. They may very well be aware of all this, of course, without the funds (or the prioritizing power or interest) to change it. Still, it seems as though the funds, energy and interest of the citizenry could be better spent.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2007-03-01 02:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>>I'm there as a tool of the community, for the use of the people seeking justice<<

Reading that line while looking at your Userpic is slightly unsettling. ;)
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