Work Crap

I’m super-behind in blogging (as well as other things) and very busy with all sorts of exciting stuff, but I thought I’d just stop by here really quickly to share this tidbit with you. This happened minutes ago, so it’s as “live” as it’s gonna get for awhile.

I decided to fill the awkward silence in my jury trial while the attorneys and judge went back to chambers for a sidebar. Witness is on the stand, plaintiff is sitting at counsel table, 13 jurors (1 alternate) are staring into space in silence.

Me: Back when I had a bailiff, this is the point when I would say, “And now our bailiff is going to entertain us by dancing a jig on counsel table!” And he’d be all embarrassed. Now that I no longer have courtroom staff, there’s no one to embarrass anymore.
Jurors: *giggling, with a few sympathetic “Aww”s*
Juror #11: Well, now YOU can do the dance for us!
Jurors: *various jurors agreeing and saying, “Yeah! Do it!”*
Me: …I never thought I’d get that response, or I wouldn’t have even brought it up.
Jurors: *laughing*
Juror #8: It’s almost summer, you can do a hula dance for us on counsel table!
Jurors: Do it right now! Yeah!

…great job for making an awkward silence even more awkward…for myself.

This morning:
Allie: Mama go bye-bye?
Me: Yes, mama’s going to work.
Allie: Dada go bye-bye?
Dada: Dada’s going bye-bye, too.
Me: What’s Allie going to do?
Allie: Play.

Earlier, I was sitting at work listening to a trial about commercial rental property damage & something about wood flooring. Meanwhile, back at home…

Jayne texted me these photos of Allie making good on her plans today to play.

“The days are just packed.” ~ Bill Watterson, via “Calvin & Hobbes”

You guys know how I sometimes post things that are unpleasant/traumatic for me but give entertainment value to you because I’m such a nice blogger? Things like the Pumping Incident? Okay, here’s another one.

The day started much like any other weekday. I woke up, brushed my teeth and washed my face, popped in my eyeballs, pulled on a dress, threw some yoga clothes into my bag, and went to wake up the kid. I changed her, she played with my hair, we went downstairs to wait for Jayne. Jayne arrived, took over Allie duty while we chatted about this or that or Allie’s lunch for the day, hubby and I packed into the car and we carpooled to our work locations. At my work, I walked through the public, put my stuff on the conveyor x-ray machine, walked through the metal detector, said greetings to coworkers, rode up the elevator with another coworker chatting about this and that, and I got off on my floor to go into my courtroom. And then I scratched my upper chest area just under my neck and thought, “This dress has a higher neckline than I remember.” I looked down and pulled the front of my collar away from my chest. And I got on my cell phone and tapped out this status message on the social networking site:

Cindy just got into her courtroom & noticed she’s got her whole dress on backwards. #whyDontPeopleTellUThoseThings #MaybeNobodyNoticed

My online friends (some real life ones) got a kick out of that and commented on the message, sharing stories of how they’d worn mismatched shoes, earrings, sweaters turned inside-out, to work themselves. Some even had experience with clothes worn backwards, altho those were all people referring to their young children who had dressed themselves. =P Flip Flop Girl comforted me by pointing out that unless it were a backless dress, nobody would have noticed. The coworker who rode up the elevator with me emailed me privately, after seeing this status message, that she indeed did not know I had the dress on backwards, but that she’d even thought to herself how cute the dress was. I never thought I’d be one of those people whose clothing fit the same forward as backwards. That’s what I get for joking about a flat-chested girlfriend in high school, saying her bra fit better backward than forward. I blame pregnancy/nursing for the changes, but really, I don’t care that much. It was worth it for my kid to be healthy and smart.

Toward the end of lunch, I came back from yoga with only 5 minutes to spare so I changed really quickly in the jury room restroom and then ran out to the front hallway of the courtroom to take roll of my jurors. About a foot out the front door, I made a sudden U-turn and came back into the courtroom, rounded the corner behind the wall, and lifted my shirt collar to peer in again, making sure I didn’t once again have the dress on backwards. The problem, you see, was that my mom gave me this dress and she’d cut off the label, so the dress from the inside looks very similar the right way and the wrong way, except for some ragged bits of white peeking out under the seam if you were to look closely. My jurors probably wondered what the heck I was doing, going out and then arcing right back in, but it’s better than the alternative (turning the dress around in front of them in the public hallway).

Later in the afternoon, I was having a conversation with a very smart friend who holds multiple degrees, including a Ph.D. in law. He was saying that he’s told quite frequently that he is similar to the character of Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory.” I told him (only half-jokingly) that I’m not sure I could talk to him anymore, because I’m now totally intimidated, and that he must think I’m a moron. The rest of the conversation went like this:

Friend: “There is not one moronic thing about you. You are probably the most intelligent of all my [social networking site] friends.”
Me: “Well…I wore my dress backwards to work today.”
My friend then tried to make me feel better by saying, “That’s because your mind is so busy thinking about important things, you haven’t the time to look at the tag.” Well, there was no tag to speak of, but mainly, the truth is, I pulled a moronic move. =P I’m not above admitting that.

My judge has been on vacation for the past week and just returned today. Meanwhile, work has been killing me; I’d been assigned to a criminal calendar court with no permanent staffing so nobody really knows what’s going on, and the temp judge assigned there was on vacation the first 2 days of my assignment there, so the cases were called in another department, one day along with 3 other courtrooms’ cases. Waiting around for your cases to finish among 3 other courts’ caseloads was a slow agonizing process and I didn’t have time to get all the work in by the day’s end. I caught up in day 2 and stayed caught up in the subsequent days, but it involved coming in 1.5 hours earlier than other coworkers and working through lunch daily with no breaks. I’m glad my judge is back. I used to pride myself on being a very good criminal calendar clerk, but the law’s changed quite a bit since I’ve done it regularly and the computer systems have evolved to accommodate (poorly) the changes. Add to that, with the recent extreme budget cuts to the county and state, we’re all getting more work than we used to, absorbing the caseloads of entire courthouses that have shut down around us. In all the crazy turmoil of the past week, however, I’m reminded of what great coworkers I have. People have been great in stepping in and helping me, giving me quick tutorials on things I didn’t know how to do, clearing out the overflowing mailbin here, bringing up case files for me there. I told one extra helpful clerk, “I owe you big.”
He said, “You don’t owe me nuthin’.”
I said, “I’ll come up with something worthy of all your help the past few days.” And then later, a brainstorm. “Hey, I know what I can give you as thanks! You can have my firstborn chil –”
“No, I already have two of my own,” he cut me off. Well, he can’t say I didn’t offer. =P

There’s a good Samaritan that’s been bringing up my mail and files for my regular courtroom, but I don’t know who that is. All I know is that my regular court’s mailbin was filled to the brim but I didn’t have time to do anything about it, and one day when I had a minute or two, I went to the mail section and my bin was empty. Coming to my courtroom, I saw that things had already been distributed. I don’t even know who to thank.

Impending layoffs are looming ahead, and with them, involuntary transfers from those of us left to other buildings in the County. I hope we don’t lose the good people. 🙁

I had looked for this gem awhile before finally giving up. The other day, I happened upon it by total chance. This is an email exchange.

From a building supervisor:

>>> Myrna 4/9/2008 2:54 pm >>>
April 22, 2008 is “TAKE OUR DAUGHTERS AND SON’S TO WORK DAY”. I will be
coordinating that day’s events. If you are interested in bringing a child
that day you must fill out the attached enrollment form (one for each child
you will be bringing) and turn it in to me no later than Thursday, April 17,
2008. Please read the attached memo, as it gives information regarding
the ages of the children that may participate.

The fee this year per child will be $4.00. The $4.00 fee includes morning
and afternoon snacks and drinks for each child participating. It will be up
to each sponsor to provide lunch for the child or children they will be
bringing. Lunch will be on your own between the hours of 12 p.m. to 1:30

The children will be in a supervised environment during the hours of 8:00
a.m. to 12:00 p.m., after which they will be released to you. You will need
to check with your individual department manager/supervisor to make
arrangements to have your child/ren stay with you the remainder of the day.

Please share this information with staff that this e-mail may not have
reached. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via

Thank You,
Myrna, Court Services Supervisor
Southeast District Superior Court

I forwarded the above email to my mom and I wrote her this:

Mom, do you have programs like this for your work? How come I was never invited?

My mom’s reply:


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.

It’s been super-busy at work, with us being in back-to-back, slightly overlapping trials. We’re a down a couple of trial courts in the building, as with the California budget crisis, the Courts are simply shutting down the courtrooms where the bench officer retired or got transferred. The workload gets distributed to the remaining courtrooms, so that means more trials. For us, that has recently meant more criminal trials, which made me happy. Give me a simple felony any day over people whining about real estate transaction disagreements.

Our current trial and the trial immediately before this one were both gang-related multiple-defendant cases. The previous one was a gang-related murder where the defendant showed up to a friend’s friend’s family BBQ, saw a rival gang member, went to the car, grabbed a gun, returned to the BBQ, and shot the rival gang member point blank. Convicted, sentenced earlier this week to 50-years-to-life in state prison. His co-defendant, a teenage girl at the time who had handed him the gun and pushed him to do the deed, took a plea bargain for 21 years in state prison.

The current trial, in which our jury has just started deliberating, is a gang-related robbery. Four guys formed a “robbery crew” for a gang and they hit up a jewelry store and in less than a minute, walked away with over $100K of gold jewelry. They were only caught because two civilians (separately) who happened to be outside saw the guys pull masks over their faces and run in, then later run back out with guns and jump in their car, and the two called 911 and followed the car giving the dispatcher car, suspect descriptions and locations.

Both trials had gang experts testify as to the habits, tattoos, “jobs,” indicia, lifestyle of gangs.

I’ve had gang cases before, but I must not have been listening or something, because I’ve learned so much from these last 2 trials that I found myself surreptitiously studying the tattoos of people I come across at the beach or wherever, trying to figure out if these were symbolic gang tattoos. And yesterday, because Mr. W and I drove separately instead of our usual carpool commute, I got to listen to my choice of radio music, and Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” came on. It was at first nostalgic to high school, driving around in my ’86 Ford LTD, so different from my life now…and then I recognized “TEC-9” in the lyrics. That was the weapon used and recovered in the robbery case, and I hadn’t known the assault rifle was a “thing” with the gangs. The song went on and Dre rapped about the California Penal Codes 211 (robbery) and 187 (murder), the charges in my last two trials, and he went on to say “I don’t represent no gangbang.” It was in this trial that the defendant, testifying on the stand, said there’s a difference between a “gangbanger” and a “gang member.” I had always thought the two were interchangeable. So now I understand the lyrics better.

Who woulda’ thunk that my job would help me appreciate the music of my high school in a deeper way? My parents should be proud.

Judge: Any big plans this weekend?
Me: There’s no such thing anymore.
Judge: Little plans for little people.
Me: Exactly. Altho we might try to go to Disneyland Sunday morning.
Judge: Do you have passes?
Me: Yeah, we just got passes.
Judge: They’re kind of pricey, aren’t they? That’s what I heard.
Me: It was like $350 for the lower-level pass.
Judge: Holy toledo! You used to be able to get a good car for that price.
Me: …when?!
Judge: Back in the day, kiddo. Back in the day.

* Can anyone identify the source?

Mr. W complained last night of stomachache, but he has an oddly sensitive digestive system, so I didn’t think it was anything unusual. By lunchtime when I called him, he sounded listless and thick-voiced.
“Were you napping?” I asked him.
“No, I’m sick. My body is achy, I feel weak, my stomach still hurts, and I have a headache.” Oh, crap. The current super-norovirus from Sydney, Australia has these symptoms, plus vomiting and/or diarrhea. It’s not the H3N1 flu that’s been ravaging the country, which our flu vaccine this year covers. I know that one of Mr. W’s coworkers had been out the first three days this week with norovirus symptoms and when it’d first started, he’d thought it was food poisoning (a common misidentification given the symptoms). He’s back to work now but still not feeling better. This Sydney norovirus remains contagious up to 3 days after the person has recovered, and is apparently so hardy that it withstands temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit and transmits itself to different victims through even cooked food. It’s running rampant in our county jail system, and sick inmates have been quarantined, court hearings have had to be continued when inmates couldn’t be transported to court due to all the quarantines and sickness. When you share a toilet in the open with fifty other men any given time, you tend to spread illness especially when diarrhea is a symptom. Makes me glad that we’re doing a civil trial and not a criminal trial with an in-custody defendant.
Mr. W said he may just take the afternoon off so that he could nap at work (he can’t leave early cuz we carpooled and I’m in trial). I said, “Okay, I’ll call you every 10 minutes to check up on you.”
“Don’t you DARE,” he said, sounding serious.
“Or what?” I challenged.
He thought for a few seconds and then said, “Or I’m going to play with Allie when we get home.”
Big loud suck of air from me as I gasped in disbelief. “Don’t you DARE!”
At least he laughed. But now I’m all paranoid that Allie’s gonna get norovirus after she’d just recovered from her cold. 🙁 It’s going to be tough having 100% Allie duty without help or the ability to hand her off while I do her dishes or prep her food, but I think it’s worth quarantining Mr. W to the bedroom if it means Allie can stay healthy. Diarrhea is more common in adults, vomiting in children. Both put the sick person in danger of dehydration and in children, malnutrition.
“If I catch this from you,” I told Mr. W, “I’m going to eat a bunch of cupcakes.” Even with that enticement, I’m still hoping what Mr. W has is not the super norovirus from Sydney.

I had this email exchange earlier with my mom:

From: Mom
To: Cindy
Subject: END OF the WORLD

Does your boss give you a day off on this Friday 12-12-12 to stay with family? Get together with family for the day of end of the world!


From: Cindy
To: Mom
Subject: Re: END OF the WORLD

are you kidding? you’re joking, right?


From: Mom
To: Cindy
Subject: Re: Re: END OF the WORLD

Oh, so you don’t get day off then. It’s my regular day off anyway!
Some private co. in China gives their employee a day off to stay with family. Isn’t that nice? Die together if it happened, no one survived, no one feel heart broken.

This just reminds me of my mom’s fatalistic romanticized Asian-drama inspired statements told to me pretty often since I was 5, 6 years old, i.e. that we should all pack in a car and drive into a wall or off a bridge to die together as a family, and that way none of us will ever have to live to mourn the death of another of us. This statement usually comes after her reported news that someone she knows is potentially terminally ill, or has been very hurtful to another family member. It did not sit comfortably with me even at that young age, and I’d only hoped my mom wouldn’t have opportunity to do something to kill us all, hoped that none of us are ever diagnosed with a bad illness, because I knew that I did not want to die (yet). But to my mom, this was “the best way to go.” What if I wasn’t ready to go? Didn’t matter. Welcome to an Asian soap opera. Yes, that’s one example of the culture gap that you may have been deprived of if you don’t come from Asian immigrant parents.

From: Cindy
To: Mom
Subject: Re: Re: Re: END OF the WORLD

It’s not the end of the world! The Mayans can’t draw a calendar FOREVER.

My mom hadn’t responded, but I couldn’t help going onto the social networking site, where my mom has access to see my postings, and write (JUST in case there are others out there who are actually losing sleep on this):
“Cindy’s hubby saw a reporter’s interview with the Mayans, who are totally unconcerned about the 12/21/12 thing. Why? They say that 1. Nobody (i.e., no Mayans) even uses that calendar, and 2. No ancient Mayans ever said that day is doomsday; the calendar was made a looong time ago and they had to stop drawing it at SOME point, so they finished off this planetary cycle and were done making it. Basically, people freaking out about the end of the Mayan calendar may as well freak out every December when the calendars hanging on their walls don’t have another month behind it to turn to.”

I brought this up with my court staff earlier and my judge said jokingly, “Sounds like you’re pretty confident. I think there’s a lack of personal knowledge.” (Lack of personal knowledge — legal ground for an objection.)
I said, “Is ‘knowledge’ defined as information obtained solely from the 5 senses? Or can I use a 6th sense?”
Judge laughed and said, “I don’t think Witkin gets into that.” (Witkin is the published summary/analysis of California law.)

And for those of you who are God-loving AND pensive, I read this at a spiritual retail store when I was pregnant:
A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.
I just discovered this week alone that two of my cousins are now expecting, and that another friend-couple is expecting their second. I know many more babies are being planned. I won’t be joining you all on this new baby adventure, but I will follow your stories, because the world will go on.

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