27. August 2008 · 7 comments · Categories: Ramble

I have been summoned to jury duty. And I’m not happy. Couldn’t they have snagged me in the summer, when at least I didn’t have much playing work? I’d have had to cancel students if I was called in, but at least I wouldn’t have had to worry about playing work unless it conflicted with Merola.

Here’s the thing: if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. If a contractor for a freelance job calls to hire me for those dates and I say, “Oh, by the way, I’m on jury duty,” you can bet he or she will say, “Never mind!” If I have to miss more than one rehearsal of Symphony Silicon Valley I’m out for the entire run, and I have to give them more than a day or two of notice so I’m not exactly sure how that would work. (I think it’s 21 days notice, although I’d have to check for sure.) Opera is a bit more generous with absences, but it’s still a costly thing to do and they have to have two weeks’ notice. If I miss UCSC students I have to reschedule and make up all lessons missed. This isn’t easy to do, since a quarter goes so quickly. And private students? If I don’t teach, I obviously don’t earn any income and, even worse, my students won’t know until the day before if I’m called if their lessons are on or off. If I do get called I get to go sit in a room with a bunch of people and not get chosen when I tell the attorneys I’m a professional musician. Yes, it’s happened twice already and I’ve gotten into the jury box only to be dismissed. I’ve been told (of course who knows if it’s true) that attorneys tend to dismiss professional musicians.

Surely there must be a better system?

The only good thing was that I opted to change the dates for a week when I at least don’t have symphony or opera. But still. Sigh.

Okay. I’ll stop whining now.


  1. Strangely, I’ve only ever been summoned to the Palo Alto courtroom (in the last, let’s see, 30 years? Yikes!). And the last time I went, I was extremely annoyed by the lack of parking (someone needs to take away the judges’ parking, and then it will be fixed, honestly) and, while I was willing, my (at the time only) child’s preschool/daycare was closed (it was around Christmas), so I had to beg off. They said they’d call me back within a few weeks/months (to which I did not demur), but I haven’t heard from them to date (my daughter’s now in the 8th grade). The first time I went up there (back in the ’70s) they just sent us all home, after asking how far we’d driven (I think I eventually got about five bucks for gas, or maybe it was two-fifty, don’t remember).

    Oh, you wanted sympathy, sorry – I’m a guy, don’t think that way :). Plus, I get paid for jury duty, so I’m not as sympathetic as I would otherwise be (but I do empathize and understand, if that helps).

  2. (Oh, and don’t ask about the number of people – including possibly a trombone player who’s name I won’t mention 😉 – that stopped by the service station where I worked in Los Altos back in the early ’80s at the corner of Grant and Fremont looking for the Palo Alto courthouse on Grant Road…and, in a totally unrelated incident, I fear I might’ve been Google-videoed this morning while waiting with my son for his school bus – I was yakking with the other parents at the time, but hopefully they’ll re-consider before posting anything like that, yikes…)

  3. I am somewhat talking out of my ass, but I thought that people in your situation generally get excused. (That is, your job is such that performing jury duty would create a financial hardship.)

  4. I did jury duty about a year ago, here in Florida. I suppose it’s different out in CA, but here, they are fairly liberal about granting deferrments to it. I’d check on that if I were you. Of course, a deferrment means you are likely to get called again in the near future. If you can work it into a slack period, that’s the way to get it done.

    My own jury service consisted of showing up for the jury selection process and then being eliminated. I was done by 3:00 PM that same day, and that counts as an actual service.

    I answered all the questions honestly, so I’m not sure how I got rejected for the trial. You could certainly come up with answers that would get you thrown off — such as indicating that you have some predisposition to judge the case — I don’t recommend deliberately faking the system that way, but it can be done.

  5. Tim … oh please please sympathize. Just because you can. How can you not sympathize when YOU get paid for JD and I don’t? Huh? And who was the t-bone player? You gotta tell now. 😉

    SongMonk, last time I had JD I did write a note explaining my circumstances and they said, “Too bad.” So no, they don’t care about my self-employment and all. The time before they didn’t even care that my father was having major surgery (that could have killed him; it was quite dangerous).

    Bill, I did switch the week … we are allowed to change it once. I’m hoping they approve the switch, as I requested Thanksgiving week (yeah, sort of devious, don’t you think?).

    The first time I was in the jury box it was really fascinating. We weren’t dealing with the accused person’s murder trial, but wether or not he was competent to assist his attorneys with the trial. The second time it was for drug possession if I remember correctly.

    My daughter talked to an attorney who told her that odds are I would always be dismissed because of my occupation; the prosecuting attorneys fear I’ll be on the side of the defense or something silly.

    I’d love to serve on a jury someday. Just not when it means I lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

  6. As long as you don’t miss my lesson, that’s the important thing, after all.

    And I won’t name names, or even suggest you ask any of your SSV colleagues if they might’ve gotten a speeding ticket for going the outrageous speed of 60 MPH on the freeway (remember, early ’80s here) or who might’ve been spending some time at De Anza around that time besides playing in SJS…

  7. Heh … you could be talking about my husband there, Tim! (He subbed in SJS and he was stage manager. He played trombone. And he still teaches at De Anza.) 🙂

    But okay, I won’t ask just who that is you’re talking about. Since I know now … I think.