FIONA  STILES

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Freelancers vs. Jury Duty

Fiona StilesComment
















So I got called for jury duty.  Again.  And this time I learned a few things, so if your'e freelance AND you live in LA this could be helpful to you.

I booked out for the whole week of my jury duty.  Granted work can be slow in June, but to take a full week off is hard enough (but canceling on my clients is not a possibility so there you go).  Then I called in every evening to see if I had to go in, and for 4 nights I was told I didn't, but on thursday night I was told to report friday morning.  At 7:45am!

When they went over the guidelines for serving at the courthouse, this is what they said; be prepared to be able to serve for 7 consecutive business days.  Well I had already taken a week off and couldn't commit to taking 7 more days off, especially because I have an 8 day booking during that time.  I spoke with a few very nice people who worked there and ended up postponing my service, but I walked away with some valuable info.  I wish I had known this weeks ago when I got my summons. Here's what I wish I had done and will do next time:

* When you get your summons, you can serve anytime.  So if you know you have a slow week or two in front of you, just show up at the courthouse with your summons.  You don't have to call, you don't have to arrange it, just show up.  Work is always slow around Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.  I know that work is busy in the fall, so I would never try and serve then.

* Don't play russian roulette and call every night.  Just go in on a monday.  At least that way you might be excused on the very first day versus wasting a whole week praying every night that you don't have to go it.  If you get picked, the case may just be four days anyway and you can get it over with.  At the very least you can keep the next week open with second holds so you don't lose all of your work!

Also you can request to be transferred to a closer courthouse.  I live in Venice and had to go all of the way downtown (for you non-LA readers, it is a DRAG!).  They may not go for it, but you can at least try.  I am mailing in my request for transfer immediately.  A ten minute bike ride trumps a 2 hour round trip commute.  Hopefully they honor the request.  But if you don't ask, you don't get!

I hope to one day be able to complete jury duty and do my civic duty.  I am not against serving, it's just that the court system isn't really great for us freelancers and I am trying to find a way to make it work without losing weeks and weeks of work.  I hope you find this a bit helpful.  I know I would have!