My judge needed to work on some stuff that had an impending deadline, so he took a vacation day to come in to work. For him, this means that since he’s technically “on vacation,” he won’t be sent new hearings and he could put all his attention on the deadline stuff uninterrupted. For me, however, this means I can be floated to fill in for anyone, since my courtroom is technically “dark,” or not open for business. Usually I dread these days cuz this is how I ended up nearly locked out of the parking structure (while my car was locked in it) in Compton after hours, how I had various days from hell including this one in Torrance Court, and why I cried when I was very pregnant and I was told to take public transportation to Compton Court to fill in.

Today, however, I was floated out to a judge just upstairs in the building whom I like, and that courtroom had an easy enough morning that I was able to bring more pertinent work with me and finish it up before anything happened in that judge’s courtroom. We ended up getting a 1-count child molestation jury trial, and we started the rather difficult task of picking a jury (since this is a sensitive issues to many people). The judge in his usual style jokingly picked on me, and laughed or played along when I’d occasionally dare make a comeback comment. I had a great time, made even more interesting because at lunch, a film crew came through to film a courtroom scene segment for a program that the local law enforcement, fire department, and some parent groups were putting together for high school kids for prevention of drunk driving. This judge did a cameo, playing himself as he sentenced one of the high school kids in the hypothetical scenario they were depicting to the high-term of 10 years in state prison for vehicular manslaughter. The bailiff also did a cameo, walking in with the student in handcuffs and chains, and I was just there as a prop at the clerk’s desk so it looks like the courtroom is in full swing. I asked the director/cameraman if I could snap a photo of the behind-the-scenes as they set up a shot, and he said sure, as long as I don’t capture his bald spot. We all laughed, and I thought, “I don’t even see a bald spot.” So I took this one really quick.

It wasn’t until way later after work when I examined this photo that I realized, oops, I did what he’d told me not to do. But it’s blurry anyway.
The people were really nice, and very grateful for our allowing them to do this and for all the advisory answers we gave them to their courtroom procedure questions. The director/cameraman invited me to go down and pretend I was setting up the shot, and he took these photos on my cameraphone for me. Ah, the eye of a professional.

An artsy angle:

I’d overheard them discussing something about a verdict scene, so I asked them if they needed sample verdict language. They said they hadn’t planned to film the verdict scene today, but asked me about it and the director had the sudden inspiration of doing a voice-over of the verdicts being read while the film showed images of photos of the defendant from baby to the mess he was in now. So I typed up the two verdicts, printed 3 copies out so the production team, school and student actor could have them as souvenirs (they requested them), and the director asked me to do the voice-over for the reading of the verdicts, since it would be my job in a courtroom anyway. I went to the mike, recorded it in one take, the director was happy and excited, and even had me turn the microphone toward the crew as they stood far away so they could chorus “yes” as voice-over pretend-jurors when I asked, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, are the verdicts that I have just read, your verdicts, so say you one and so say you all?” When the production team left, they shook my hand and promised to send copies of the finished film and asked me for the T-shirt size I wear, so I guess I’m getting a thank-you gift. I wonder what would be on the shirt.

Super-fun day at work.