My Los Angeles County Jury Duty Experience

By: Nick Baicoianu: March 16, 2006

Disclaimer: Nick Baicoianu is not an employee or representative of L.A. County Courts—all the information here is from his personal experience and is NOT in any way official.

Everyone dreads it – that notice in the mail from the County Jury Commissioner requiring you to show up for jury duty. Here's one juror's experience.

The basic procedure is this: after you fill out the form you need to call the court's jury line (800) SRV-JURY. It's an automated system where you can get info on your jury service. You are assigned a date for you to report for service, though you can postpone your service for up to 90 days from that date via the automated phone system (no excuse required!).

You must call in the weekend before the summons date to see if you need to come in. After you enter your juror id and pin numbers, you will be told whether you need to show up on your summons date. If you don't have to report that day, you have to call back the following day after 5pm to see if you have to serve the following day. If not, repeat the process until you are instructed to show — my summons date was a Monday, but I didn't have to report until Thursday that week.

The Basics


I reported to the C. Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Downtown Los Angeles (320 W. Temple St. - at Broadway). Depending on where you live, your court will vary; if you live more than 20 miles away from your summons location, you can request a transfer to another court.


Lot 17 – Olive St, just south of 1st St.
This is the preferred parking lot for 1st-day jurors. It's free (no validation required).
Walt Disney Concert Hall Underground Lot
Used for jurors with oversized vehicles and all jurors from the 2nd day of service onward. Don't forget to validate your parking—it's $16 if you don't
Private Parking Lots (not recommended)
There are several private lots around the area, but they are very expensive, especially considering you will be here for up to 9 hours.


My summons required me to be at the juror assembly room at 7:45AM–I didn't make it there until 8:15 and there was no problem. Definitely be there by 8:30 to get the introduction and turn in your summons.

Important Information

  • You will be at the courthouse ALL DAY LONG on the first day, until about 4-5pm. If you leave before then, you'll have to come back another day and start over.
  • If you are assigned to serve on a trial, the judge will give you an estimate of how long the trial will last (usually 5-7 working days).
  • If you're excused from a particular trial for any reason, you must still report back to the juror assembly room afterwards to see if you'll be called to another trial.
  • You may be called for up to four cases—if you're not assigned to a trial by the end of the day, you are free!
  • You can take as many short breaks as you like, just don't stray too far from the jury assembly room.
  • There are "assigned" breaks (i.e. you don't need to be in the jury assembly room) around 9:15am (30min) and lunchtime
  • IMPORTANT! You must be in the juror waiting area when the final roll call is announced. If you're not there to answer when your name is called, your service will not count and you'll have to come back the next day!


What to Bring

  • Pen or pencil, paper pad for notes.
  • Something to keep you occupied—this can be reading material, laptop, light work, iPod, etc. You will spend a lot of time sitting and waiting. Writing this page is what kept me occupied.
  • You can bring in a backpack or shoulder bag – I didn't notice any lockers so pack lightly.
  • If you plan on using the internet, there are terminals available for this, rates are $5 (1 hour) to $12(1 day) – debit/credit card required. No wireless access available.

What to Wear

The jury literature recommended dressing as business casual, though I saw many people with just collared shirts & jeans. Definitely no tank tops, cutoff tops, or anything else you wouldn't wear around your mother.


In the Jury Assembly Room

Arrived at building, go through security, and jostle for elevator to 5th floor.

Arrived at the jury assembly hall, here you show your summons at the window and get some information pamphlets and a holder for the juror badge on your summons.

The jury hall is a large room with a seat arrangement like an airport gate lounge (only with more comfortable seats). Plugs are available along the wall for laptops, and there is wired internet service available ($5 for 1 hr, $12 for all day). No wireless internet is provided.

First staff member begins to speak, going over the conditions for jury service excuses, as well as employer compensation

At the end of the speech, we place our juror summons in one of several trays, demarcated by the number of days our employer will pay for jury service.

Those seeking an excuse or postponement must see the staff at this time.

Jurors are excused for a 30 minute break.
Staff pass out an optional survey regarding demographics, etc.
A staff member announces that a trial expected to last 30-35 days is requesting jurors. He calls out the names of some "pre-screened" jurors asking them to answer "Yes" if they can serve without financial hardship on this case. 16 names are called, and surprisingly there isn't a single "NO" response.
Staff asks anyone who needs to make a name or address change request to come up to the window.
Staff does a roll-call of juror names to report to division 45 for a trial.
Staff does a roll-call of juror names to report to division 46 for a trial.
12 Noon
By now the room has become pretty empty. The staff does a roll-call of juror names to report to division 46 for a trial. I'm called for service in Division 119, starting at 1:30. The few remaining jurors are instructed to report to the window for further instructions. We break for lunch
I arrive at the 13th floor hallway. While we wait other jury groups are called to different divisions.
The Division 119 clerk calls us into the courtroom to begin the jury selection process.
After being eliminated from the trial, the other eliminated jurors and I return to the juror assembly hall. On the way down we all talk about why we think we were eliminated.
A staff member gets on the intercom with good news – we're free! He makes a roll call of names—it's EXTREMELY important you are there to answer when your name is called. If you don't, your day's service will not count.

Employer Compensation

Make sure to fill out the field "Employer pays for ___ days of service". If you don't, it will be assumed that you can serve an unlimited amount of time with pay!

There are some special cases regarding employer compensation:

Students, Unemployed
Put "0" in the "Employer pays for ___ days of service" field
Homemakers, retired, goverment employees (including state corporations)
Leave the "Employer pays for ___ days of service" blank. You'll get a chance to notify the staff if it will cause financial hardship if you are called for an extended trial.

If your employer won't pay for jury duty, you're not off the hook.

What Happens When You're Called

Initial procedure

I was part of a group of 50-60 people called into a courtroom for the jury selection process. At this time the defendant and attorneys for both sides are seated in their traditional locations. The court clerk gives a general introduction about how the selection procedure works and what to expect. Prospective jurors are instructed to sit in the audience section of the court while the clark calls up 24 jurors by id number (some judges do this to increase the speed of the process). I was up in the first group.

The judge enters the courtroom and talks about what is expected of us as potential jurors. He describes the case before us: the defendant is accused of intent to sell a narcotic substance (cocaine). The judge reads out the defendant's, prosecuting attorney's, and defending attorney's names and the names of witnesses who may testify in the case, asking us if we personally know any of them.

Judge's Questions

The judge then asks us to answer some basic questions (listed on the wall) about our occupation, marital status, number of children, what their occupations are (if adults), and whether we have any prior criminal or civil jury experience. He then queries prior jurors on the type of case and charges, and whether the jury reached a verdict.

We are then asked some general questions on our personal experiences with the law; are we victims of serious crimes, have we or anyone we know been accused or convicted of a serious crime—instructing us to raise our hand and provide a more detailed answer. The judge asks a few more detailed questions of each applicant's answer, and asking us if our experience will interfere with our judgement on the case.

Case-specific Questions

Because this is a drug case, we are also asked if we or anyone we know has had a substance abuse problem, and if so whether it will interfere with our judgement on the case. The judge asks if any of us is involved in and anti-drug or pro-legalization organizations, and separately whether we feel drugs should be legalized.

Attorney Questioning

During the whole question & answer process the attorneys are taking notes on the jurors' responses. Judge Lomelli instructs the attorneys to begin their questioning.

The defense starts by questioning a juror who mentioned her father's drug addiction to crack cocaine, asking probing questions into whether this experience will affect her judgement.

The prosecutor begins by asking more detailed questions of the jurors regarding drug legalization. She questioned a few other jurors who mentioned an antipathy towards law enforcement including a woman who claimed she'd "never call the police" if she was in trouble.

Juror Elimination

Having finished their questioning, the attorneys return to their seats and the juror elimination procedure begins. Alternating between prosecution and defense, the attorneys ask individual jurors to leave based on their answers to all the questions – it's a quick process and I'm eliminated within minutes. By the time I leave, about 10 jurors have been eliminated. Those who leave are instructed to return to the juror assembly hall for another potential assignment.

Location Information

Being in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, the criminal courts building is located near many food establishments and interesting locations. Most are within walking distance, or you can take the metro DASH Line B (25¢) to get there.


  • Food Courts (5th & 13th floors) – your standard vending machine food, drink, & coffee - very nourishing! The 5th floor has an ATM.
  • Los Angeles City Hall Mall – food court, post office, limited shopping.
  • Grand Central Market – good cheap eats.


  • Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) – free admission with juror badge
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall – free admission with juror badge
  • City Hall Observation Deck – just walk into the public entrance, check in, and you can go up unaided. Sometimes there are private functions in the 27th floor-hall, but it's usually empty.
  • Japanese-American Museum