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Down the Coast with Dana Parsons

June 18, 2008 |  1:25 pm


Dodged a bullet — I mean, missed a chance to do my civic duty last week — when my name wasn’t called for jury selection. I’m kidding; I’d like to be a juror someday. Kind of weird, but I suddenly got a little verklempt in the courtroom when Orange County Superior Court Judge Kelly MacEachern talked about jury duty being one of the country’s most hallowed responsibilities.

I’ve had two previous chances to sit in the box and was bumped both times by a district attorney’s option. They apparently don’t like things I’ve written about prosecutors, but what they don’t realize is that I’m perfectly willing to convict someone if the evidence, fairly obtained, is there. This time, they got the 12 jurors and one alternate they needed without my being called, so it was a morning down the drain.

However, the session did reinforce what a curse alcohol can lay on society. Because the case was a DUI, jurors had to talk about their own experiences to gauge whether they’d be biased. Of the couple dozen people who spoke, we learned that one woman’s brother-in-law was left a paraplegic by a drunk driver, another man’s brother was the drunk driver of a car that killed two people and that another middle-aged man, when he was 16, had to bail his father out of jail on a drinking-related charge. Another woman broke down crying while she attempted to discuss an episode from her past and was excused.

Pretty intense drama before lunch. Maybe there’s no way around it, but too bad that people think they’re heading for jury duty, only to find themselves on an “Oprah” show and recounting a terrible moment in the presence of total strangers.