Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Voir Dire Straits

What a long week it's been already, and it's only Tuesday morning! Yesterday I was summoned for jury selection. I was not picked, so I am very relieved (I guess I am literally relieved). I'd like to be on a jury sometime but not right now, I really can't spare the time. It would have been an ugly case: man with cancer versus a bunch of corporations. Even though I hate big corporations, I had made up my mind that if selected, I would really try to be fair in the verdict.

Juries are frightening. Most people are going to bring so many biases to the table with them. Still, I think it's a good system that helps keep a smidgeon of corruption out of the process.

Note: a good way to not get picked is to tell the court that you are PMS-ing. One woman actually did that. It might be TMI, but she was not picked. They didn't let us out of there until 7:00 pm, and that was followed by a group fiasco of Dillo newbies trying to get on the right bus, and watching the right bus go by because we were in the wrong place at the right time.


Ptelea said...

I've served on two juries and both were very interesting experiences. I was jury foreperson (?) the most recent time, mostly because the other jurors were more timid than me! We found the defendent guilty of felony menacing and cruelty to animals (it was difficult to sit through the testimony). Some of the evidence was circumstantial and I had to explain to the other jurors that BEYOND a reasonable doubt can include reasonable doubt. AFTER the trial, we found out that the defendent had a long history of cruelty to animals, so I think we made the right call.

It is a lot of work to be on a jury but both times I felt people tried to be fair.

Coeur Mechant said...

I've served on juries three times. The last time was thirteen years ago. I have been called for jury duty once since then, but the case involved testimony from a police officer and my sister-in-law and her policeman husband were divorced, so I was excused from that.

I always find the experience interesting. and feel very strongly that serving on juries is an obligation as a citizen of this country.

The first case I served on was assault with a deadly weapon. I thought it was a frivolous case, and told the assistant district attorney (ADA) it was a waste of time to bring it to trial. The second case was a hot check writer. He changed his plea to guilty after one day of testimony. I learned from that ADA that such cases are difficult to prosecute. You need very solid evidence. The third case I served on was rape and kidnapping. I was struck by the disparity between the dry, legal language of the proceedings and the very personal matters being discussed. After the defendant was convicted of the rape charges, I spoke with the ADA and found out that the defendant had raped at least three other women. His defense attorney had to tread lightly during the trial or testimony about the other rapes would be allowed. He waited until closing arguments to mention circumstances of the event, with the prosecuting attorney raising many objections, and by doing so introduced doubts in the minds of some jurors. That was why the defendant was not also found guilty of kidnapping.

Blueberry said...

PT: The animal cruelty one would have been tough for me. I doubt they would have let me on that one - it's a hot button.

CM: Frustrating the way things have to be structured, what can be discussed and what can't, and how things turn out based strictly on what the lawyers did.

Someday I would still like to be on a jury, but it would probably make it tough for everyone since I generally tend not to agree with the majority.