Town Square


Original post made by Michael Austin on Jun 10, 2014

Every twelve months or so I get a juror summons. The last tree years or so I was excused using the juror hot line. This time around I exercised the same method. I called the hot line at 5:00pm Sunday evening and was informed that it was not necessary for me to report Monday morning. But, to call back at 11:00am for a possible report time of 1:00pm. At the call back time I was informed to report at 1:00pm. I drove over to the Oakland Rene C. Davidson Court house on Fallon and went into the juror waiting room.

At 1:30pm we were all sent upstairs to the court room, about 100 of us. The judge outlined the case for us. Stating it was a murder with special circumstance scheduled to start June 16, and expected to go through July 31, 2014. There were three Latino men charged and would be tried. These three Latino men reportedly with guns in their hands gunned down, murdered two people in Oakland near the San Leandro border. The judge continued, this is not a death penalty case. When I heard the judge say this is not a death penalty case, I wondered if that is because the District Attorney is against the death penalty. The three Latino men and their three attorneys were in court and were introduced to us.

The judge finished up with stating, the juror pay is $15.00 per day of service beginning the second day. He had a questionnaire for us to fill out. it was eight pages front and back of deeply personal questions for us to answer with great detail (per instruction). The questions wanted to know every place we lived our entire lives, every job we have ever had, every school we attended and our level of education. We were asked for the names of our siblings, parents and other relatives, and our race, organizations we are affiliated with, on and on.

This is where the ramifications of jury duty come in. The defense attorneys take all this personal information to question the juror under oath, to attack and rip the juror apart, in an effort to disqualify the juror and have the juror excused. It can be brutal. This is done while all the other perspective jurors waiting their turn, to get this brutal examination of their personal lives. The juror immediately becomes the defendant, not an innocent citizen performing a public service.

Five years ago I set through one of these interrogations by a defense attorney. I had to suffer through memories of loved ones that were killed in war while serving their country and relive the deaths of my parents. I was forced to detail my education, my work, where I lived all my life, why I changed jobs, why I moved, there was no end to it.

All of this for $15.00 per day. Why it is the minimum wage does not apply to jurors?


Posted by Kangaroo, a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 10:57 am

One question I had was " have you had any positive or negative encounters with people of another race". I circled "negative" and said too many to fit in space provided. I was home by noon. They can't handle the truth.

Posted by Right, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 10, 2014 at 11:03 am

I am shocked. Do we live in 2010s America or 1930s Germany? <Sarcasm>
Now on a serious note. Add all this to Obama's attempts to remove our guns, and our children being indoctrinated into socialism, the global warming fraud, and we're at the precipice. <No sarcasm>

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm


One of my questions five years ago in another murder case.

What is your feeling regarding alcohol?

I responded, "I am tired of people using drugs and alcohol as an excuse for their actions".

I was excused.

Posted by kbenson, a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Jun 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Slightly off-topic. Why do they send jury duty notifications to people in Pleasanton, when the court house location is in either Hayward or Oakland?

From my understanding, the person summoned for jury duty is responsible for

1. Parking fee (No free parking at Hayward and I think Oakland is the same)
2. Transportation to-from
3. No pay from work (dependent on employer)

I would think plenty of folks would love to go on jury duty. They (judicial system) should have an all volunteer pool, in which people can volunteer for the "great" coffee + $15 after 1st day pre-tax

They (judicial system) can also do a better job of finding jurors closer to home

Posted by William Tell, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 10, 2014 at 1:18 pm

When I was called I was the only white person in the pool of perspective jurors. Because all the cases involved black defendents, I was "excused." There we have a perfect example of reverse racism. I imagine the minority defendents plus the minority juries led to mostly not guilty pleas. Back on the streets, and the cycle begins all over. I'm tired of it.

Got my tax payer funded $15 though. What a joke. I wonder how many people give it back? I thought about it but then I realized it would just be funneled to some witless anti-cop juror so I decided to keep it.

Posted by Mchael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I paid for my parking $7.00, the fee is reduced to $6.00 when you provide juror validation to the gate keeper on the way out of the parking garage. I am self employed and lose income when reporting for juror service.

On a typical Monday row call for jurors in Court at the Rene C. Davidson court house could be 500 jurors ordered to report.

This court room yesterday had no microphone, it was difficult to hear the judge speak from my vantage point in the back of the room next to an air conditioning vent.

Earlier this year in the Superior court on Stoneridge Drive in Pleasanton, I won a small claims judgment. This court house on Stoneridge has microphones for the judge, defendant, plaintiff, and witnesses. This court house is not fully utilized due to "budget cuts".

An all voluntary juror concept may tend to create "professional jurors". It seems they tend to seek out the no experience type person for juror service. They are selected from voter registration record, drivers records, and property tax records.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm

The judicial system is not perfect but it is what is in place at this time. I'm surprised that so many Plutonians are so critical of a system that's set up to provide justice.

In my opinion, it works. If you're interested, explore ways with others to improve the system.

tee hee...

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm


One of the questions asked was, "what is your opinion on todays justice system"? My response was "it is what it is".

Posted by STOP THE EVIL CYCLE, a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:25 am

Hey William Tell.
Your posts are generally spot on, but please don't give the liberal fools and anti American groups any help please. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS REVERSE RACISM, ***** ONLY RACISM ***** and it for everybody, not just white people. I know it was just a miss step in words. Keep up the good work.

Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 1:58 pm

In the last 7 years I have served on 3 juries, all with special circumstances, in the superior court in Oakland. One lasted two days and we were dismissed because a plea deal had been negotiated after the trial started. The other two trials lasted 5 weeks and 8 weeks, plus deliberation time.

I rode BART to all three trials and took my service as seriously as I do my professional job, as did my fellow jurors. The courtrooms and jury rooms were well equipped and as comfortable as could be expected. The judge, lawyers, clerks and sherriff's deputies were all highly professional and things ran very smoothly.

Not once did I feel I was under attack by personal questions posed by attorneys during the jury selection process. It was not brutal, as Michael suggested. In fact, my experiences do not resemble his in most ways.

I considered my jury duty an honor, as a citizen of the republic, and will serve again when called upon. Hopefully Michael will do the same.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 11, 2014 at 6:41 pm

I always appreciate being asked to serve on a jury. It's a responsibility that as an American citizen take seriously.


Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 11, 2014 at 7:13 pm

A Neighbor,
When A defense attorney is questioning a juror and is getting answers that he does not like. That defense attorney turns on the juror to discredit the juror in an effort to have that juror excused.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 11, 2014 at 9:10 pm

I've been excused from a jury quite a few times...I didn't die. Nope...that's how the American judicial system works...the attorneys have a right to ask questions and to attempt to shape the jury in their favor.

That's simply the way it is. In America the actors in a courtroom drama have rights.

What's so bad about excusing a juror...NADA/NOTHING!


Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Michael, Did you know that, as a potential juror, you have the right to not answer questions posed by counsel that you deem invasive or inappropriate? Stating that you will not answer a specific question in open court is allowed. The judge may ask you to reply in private, or he/she can dismiss you at that point. You are never obligated to embarrass or shame yourself during jury selection. This did happen at all three of the trials I mentioned above.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm

After posting this blog I set out to get my question answered regarding the $15.00 juror pay for each day of service beginning the second day. I sent an email over to the Alameda County District Attorneys office. They directed me to the County Administration office.

I contacted Leah Wilson, the new administrative leader of Alameda County administration services. When she did not respond after four days, I sent her a follow up email. Almost immediately I received a response from Chad Finke, General Counsel, Superior Court of California, County of Alameda. Mr. Finke explained:

Pay for jurors in criminal and civil matters is set by statue in California.
Specifically Code of Civil Procedure section 215(a).

So, going forward I will be directing my question to members of the state assembly and state senate. We need to get this changed. To having juror pay fulfilling the minimum wage act plus mileage to and from the activity.

Posted by California taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Per diem is ok, but paying parking & BART is not good. People from this tri-valley should ONLY be called for Stoneridge Drive courtrooms. BUT...Pls is just for traffic & small murders, rapes, embezelments for North country residents!! I always get called for Oakland in Dec or Jan, when it's dark at 4:00. As a senior female, I will not walk to BART alone in the dark!! So then must drive in commuter traffic, in the dark, in Dec/Jan rains. It really irks me to drive by our Stonerige courtrooms on the way TO the Oakland courtroom.
I certainly agree that answering very personal questions while eyes if 100 strangers are focused on you is undue exposure and much too intrusive.!! unbelievable !!! Jurors are questioned further and more personally than the defendant!!
Once I drove Mon,T, W, Th, was then finally interviewed on Friday. The Defendant's lawyer dismissed me because year's earlier I had served on Grand Jury. So I spend a week's worth of my time and money to be told what I could have been told on Mon. Defense was biased against me. Jury 'picking' today is a scam against the public, favoring the charged. Defense doesn't want you if you read paper's or actually know anything. ..Golly, you might actually see through the lies, innuendoes, and illogical defense...can't have that. They prefer dimwits. He didn't want me because I knew too much. Let's see, our Governor Brown just this year said ILlegals can be criminal layers in our Ca courtrooms, and I think serve on juries too. There are some among us who think illegals should vote and serve on juries. Citizens should pay attention and not allow that kind of legislative crap from Sacramento.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 13, 2014 at 7:18 pm

When I was twelve years old I watched a movie called "12 Angry Men", directed by Sidney Lumet. The cast included Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and eight other well known actors.

The defense and prosecution have just rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young Spanish-American is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open and shut case of murder soon becomes a mini-drama of each of the jurors prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other.

A lone dissenting juror slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court.

I vividly recall the scene where one of the actors (I forget whom) gets very upset, because he wants a right now guilty verdict because he has tickets to the ball game in a couple of hours.

Posted by Hank Fonda, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 13, 2014 at 8:04 pm

In 12 Angry Men, Michael Austin, you might have recognized yourself as one of the 2 or 3 of the deeply biased jurors (with racist tendencies) who wanted a quick guilty verdict. But for you to recognize such, you'd need to have an ability to reflect critically upon yourself. Your inability in this regard is why I would immediately dismiss you from any jury where I wanted competent jurors. No small wonder, at all, that you tend to be quickly dismissed by attorneys -- I suspect both prosecutors and defenders. Sad but true. Amazing your inability to have figured this out.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 14, 2014 at 8:36 am

Hank Fonda,
Only defense attorneys have excused me. I have never been excused by a prosecutor. I, in fact, receive thank you from prosecutors. Three days ago I received a thank you email from the Alameda County District Attorneys office for my most recent service. They know I am not afraid to stand up and be counted. Obviously, that can not be said about you as you have demonstrated here.
You post your comment and hide your identity.
What are you afraid of?
Why do you hide your identity?
You cannot stand up and be counted?

Posted by Hank Fonda, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 14, 2014 at 9:14 am

Well, Michael Austin, I'm not sure I understand how or why prosecutors would thank you for your "service" when you're telling us of being immediately rejected by defense attorneys. Guess I lack a required sense of gullibility to swallow another of your lies. Thanks, though, for demonstrating once again your inability to show even a minimum of critical self reflection.

Why don't I use my real name here? Stated as briefly as I can, I am afraid of you and your other personae.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 14, 2014 at 10:34 am

Is there any evidence that people who reveal their "identity" are bullies?

What precisely does the word "identity" mean? Only a legal surname?

What if an individual is more famously known as Pork Head? Is that a better indicator of who that person is...duh...

i rest my case...tee hee

ps can we all get along?

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 14, 2014 at 4:54 pm

What trolls read and absorb from the printed literature is uniquely interpreted so as to understand according to individual belief, judgment. Then write commentary according to their individual belief, judgment. fully demonstrating that what they read is not what was in the literature.

Posted by Hank Fonda, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 14, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Michael, you might try some time taking those 'analytical skills' of yours you use to erroneously typecast others and apply them to yourself. No telling what you'd find. You'd probably surprise yourself, though I can understand why you're afraid to try.

Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

Hank, who's afraid?:

"Why don't I use my real name here? Stated as briefly as I can, I am afraid of you and your other personae." Grow a set and quit with your unwarranted attacks on Michael for his jury service. Start with your critical self reflection now...and keep it to yourself, troll.

Posted by Hank Fonda, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 15, 2014 at 4:55 am

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by mjarivers, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 23, 2014 at 7:17 am

mjarivers is a registered user.

The Associated Press is reporting that "the American Bar Association says it's ethical for lawyers to scour online for publicly available musings of citizens called for jury service-and even jurors in deliberations.

This allows the defense attorneys to probe personal commentary between friends and family while questioning potential jurors.

I expect this could be over turned if challenged.