This summer, I was one of the lucky ones chosen to serve my civic duty for 3 weeks on a jury. You read that correctly. I did 3 full weeks of jury duty this summer. And the real kicker is that I kind of enjoyed it? It definitely took a few days to get used to my new temporary jury duty life in Downtown LA but by the end of it, I figured out how to make the most of my days down there. Here are some of the tips I wish I had known going into jury duty in DTLA.
Your first day:
If you get called in, you first report to a room full of potential jurors where you sit around all day waiting for your name to be or not be called. I won’t go into the details of the actual protocol because that’s for the court to read off to you. But I can tell you that having the following things really saves you for your first day:
- A book
- Water bottle
- Snacks (granola bars or bags of nuts are my go to)
- An external charger for your phone because it will die
- Additional entertainment – coloring book, notebook, tablet, etc
- Patience because they say that have wifi but that ish is sloooow
If you get on a jury, my top pieces of advice:
- Bring a water bottle every day AND make sure to refill it at Starbucks or a restaurant during your lunch break. In 3 weeks, I wasn’t able to find a working drinking fountain in all of city hall.
- Bring a sweater or light jacket because you never know if it will be hot or freezing in the courtroom.
- Use your 15 minute breaks to walk the stairs up and down to get your blood flowing. You will be sitting in an old creaky chair for most of the day and every time you shift, the whole courtroom will look at you. So get your energy out when you can. A bonus is that barely anyone takes the stairs so they have good corners to do a few stretches if you need them.
- Don’t use the bathroom on the same floor as the main jury room or the main entrance floor. Those have the most traffic and the most broken locks. The 3rd floor was a nice quiet bathroom that actually had locks on the doors. A nice place of solace when you need one.
- If you want to bring your lunch, pack salads, sandwiches, or other food that doesn’t need to be heated. There are no microwaves available to heat your leftovers. A lesson I learned after bringing leftover chili for lunch one day.
- And lastly, explore DTLA as much as possible! More info on that below.
I loved using my lunch break to explore that area of DTLA. Los Angeles is such a sprawl city that we rarely get to spend time in areas that give you that big city/tall building buzz. I loved having 3 full weeks to walk and explore. Here are some of my favorite places that I visited during my lunch breaks (which are an hour and half so you get some good exploring time):
Grand Central Market is just a few blocks from the courthouse and is filled to the brim with lunch options. I could have eaten there everyday of my jury duty and still not gotten to try every restaurant. Some of my favorites are Golden Road Brewery (a great chicken sandwich), Jose Chiquito (get the breakfast burrito), and Sari Sari Store (I got the Adobe Fried Rice twice).
If you ever have a day where you get a longer lunch break due to witness schedules (and this will definitely happen) take a nice but longer walk over to Olvera Street. It is one of my favorite places in LA. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants, though I prefer the ones that are right in the middle of the street. Then go directly to Mr. Churro and get ice cream with warm churros stuck directly into it. It is heaven on earth and I am not even a sweets person. After that, walk the street and check out the vendor carts and their treasures while catching other patrons eyeing your delicious ice cream (and then of course point them in the direction of Mr. Churro because everyone must try this place).
Jurors get free admission to MOCA! Just show them your badge at the box office and they will print you a free ticket. It’s a smaller museum but it’s the right size for the length of a lunch break. They also have a Lemonade in their courtyard so you can grab lunch beforehand.
Angel’s Flight and the Food Court at the top
Angel’s Flight is a funicular railway that takes you up and down Bunker Hill. You can pay the $1.50 for the ride up or take the stairs to the left of the entrance for some exercise. You will pass the (sadly now closed) park from 500 Days of Summer, and find yourself at the top where there is a great food court with tons of options. I definitely came here a few times for a sandwich at Mendocino Farms.
And on the days that you decide to pack a lunch, definitely go spend some time in Grand Park. It is directly next to the courthouse and is 3 full city blocks. The top most section has a Starbucks and a huge splash fountain for kids. They also have food trucks on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and free yoga! The bottom section, right in front of city hall, also has a food truck most days, and you can sit back and watch a lunchtime pick-up soccer game. It’s the perfect place for people watching.
I know it sounds crazy but I really did enjoy my time as a juror. I got to have such a unique experience learning more about our judicial system and I got to spend time exploring one of my favorite parts of LA.
My last parting tip: take a picture of where you park in the Walt Disney Concert Hall Parking lot. That is where the jurors park for free. Your days will definitely start to run together and when you think you can memorize where you parked, you will soon find yourself walk up and down the 7 floors searching for your car. Don’t be like me! Take a picture in the morning!