I mentioned a few days ago that I was picked to be on a jury earlier this week. I have to admit, it was rather inconvenient as I had a lot of stuff at work that needed doing. As it stood, I ended up taking phone calls and responding to emails whenever I was on break, and when I got home I spent a couple of hours working on support tickets from there.
The case was something of an annoyance, too. If it had been a criminal case it might have been a bit interesting. This was a civil case, however. The case was Amprop Inc. vs. Harris County Appraisal District and Waller County Appraisal District. Amprop, a fully owned subsidiary of British Petroleum, was contesting the appraised value of BP’s American headquarters as of 1 January 2005. As you might imagine, it wasn’t exactly the most exciting trial out there. About one of the few perks of the whole experience was the fact that I didn’t have to drive downtown at all. I’d just park my car at the Kuykendahl Park & Ride, and ride the bus for free to and from downtown. In a way I wish I did work downtown so I could do just that.
We thought we were going to have yesterday off from court, so I could spend the day catching up on work that needed to be done where my physical presence was actually required. No such luck. We had wrapped up the testimony/evidence part of the case by end-of-day Thursday, so the judge wanted us back at 2:30 PM to hear closing arguments and begin deliberation. We came to a decision as to how much the property was worth by nearly 5 PM, and from there, that was that. That is, other than the judge coming to talk to us and indulge his curiosity as to how we arrived at the figure we did. :-)
As for the trial itself… I admit to annoyance. Actually, most of us in the jury were annoyed. Not so much with the plaintiffs, mind, but with the defense. The plaintiffs had an expert witness named Paula Thoreen who appraised the property, complete with plenty of evidence and research. The defense had… nothing. They had no witnesses, nor any actual appraisal data of their own. All they did was cross-examine Mrs. Thoreen as to her methodology. In closing arguments, the defense requested we find for a rather high figure that they pulled out of their asses. In the end, we had to use solely Mrs. Thoreen’s data, and used her base value and added back in some deductions we felt were unwarranted. If I had been given a chance to speak to the defense attorneys, I would have likely said, “I would not hire you as my counsel. Next time, if you want us to find a certain way, give us evidence to do so.”
In any event, it’s all over and done with. I’ll be returning back to work on Monday. I’ll just miss being able to take the bus to work, is all… :-)