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About jury duty, have you ever been called upon???

 
 
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 06:04 pm
Didn't realize that Jespah has such an
amazingly funny selection of the many
reasons & the hows and whys of our peers
attempts to get excused from jury duty.
While we were discussing an old film called
"Twelve Angry Men"- in the films category
and it was aboutv jury duty - we did get to
talking about serving as a juror. Who has,
and who has not. What your experiences were
like. I DO SO HOPE Cicerone Imposter
will come back here, and retell HIS
story of a 3 month jury trial in which he
was involved. Anyway - we were getting
so far off the original topic, I decided to
post it in here to see what comes up.
Have you ever served as a juror,
IF NO - why not
IF YES - what was the experience like
for you, do you feel that it was very
important that you were a part of
the jury. IF YOU ARE INCLINED TO
WISH TO DISCUSS IT.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 12,559 • Replies: 41
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chatoyant
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 06:06 pm
I have never been called for jury duty. My son and daughter have, as well as most everyone I know, it seems. I always thought it would be interesting. Maybe my day will still come.
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bandylu2
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 06:16 pm
I was called for jury duty many years ago, but I was a stay at home Mom with young children at the time and I got an exemption. Never got called again until about 2 years ago and this time it was for a Grand Jury. It was to meet once a week for a full year, so those in the 'pool' were allowed to volunteer which I did.

I found the experience fascinating (plus got to know a group of people pretty well in the course of a full year). We dealt mostly with 'white collar crime' so it wasn't too upsetting, though there were a couple of cases that were not very pleasant.

We needed to have 16 of us vote to indict (out of a maximum of 21) so it sometimes led to major disputes -- but usually very civil ones. And often, it was pretty darn near unanimous (some of the Assistant D.A.'s were very good and some were pretty awful).

All in all, it was an excellent experience and I'd certainly volunteer to do it again if asked.
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mikey
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 06:24 pm
i've been called, but never chosen to serve. got the boot at the last round in the jury box because of the way i looked, my job, my political beliefs i guess. some justice system. i have no faith whatsoever anymore.

if you don't fit the so called 'profile'...you'll never serve.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 08:04 pm
Gee, Mikey, it must've been the foam coming out of the top of your head...

I was called recently, but not selected.

Called other times and got an exemption as self employed sole earner.

It would have been tough then to cope, with big projects and long hours on my agenda. But now I could be a juror on short trials if they would pick me.
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mikey
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 08:06 pm
Ossobuco i think it was the beard on the head of the foam.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 08:07 pm
I've never been called. Maybe because I've moved so often?
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 08:16 pm
I have never been called for jury duty, I have always been registered to vote. I would like to serve at least once. But I guess it is not in the cards.
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bandylu2
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 09:00 pm
In NY they no longer go just by voter registrations -- they also use driver's licenses among other things. Makes for a much larger pool of people.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 09:52 pm
I have been called a number of times. One time I served close to a week in a discrimination suit filed by a female police officer. One of her superiors was alleged to have offered to help her in return for sex. He was notably absent as a defense witness. She was never allowed to have a car while males junior to her had them - There were a number of similar issues. To eleven of us it was cut and dried. There was one man who had made up his mind the woman "was a punk employee" and he said, "one job doesn't work out, you move on. Don't make an issue out of it" - something. He finally voted our way when it became obvious we were about to be forced into a second day of deliberation. Then he gave in and the woman won her suit. The suit was appealed and they settled out of court.
The only other time I sat on a jury, they asked if anyone would be predjudiced against the defendants. I raised my hand to so signify, but they chose me anyway. The case involved a couple that had gone to an abortion clinic and chained their child to something, thereby blocking the clinic. When the fire department came they busted the jaws of life on the chain. The case was over whether the couple should pay the cost of replacing the jaws of life. After a short deliberation we decided they ought to pay and the lawyer immediately moved to appeal. I never did learn the final outcome.
Right after the first case I told of I began to be summoned every few months. I failed to answer the call at last (It's a real hardship to leave work that length of time and go into the congested city that many times). Nobody contacted me over it and I now have not been called in over five years.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 10:01 pm
One other thing I observed during the near week long trial I sat in on: I was never questioned before being selected. I thought they ought to have spoken to everyone they had been considering. During the trial I noticed that someone with a team of lawyers had a last name the same as mine. That same day I detected that other jury members' names were shared by people up there. Could it be they used that as a basis for choosing at least some of us?
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babsatamelia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Dec, 2002 11:55 pm
Ossobuco, I LOVE your new avatar, charming!
bandylou and e.b. both seemed to have some
very interesting experiences on a jury. I must
admit, that when you are self employed - it really
could be quite a financial hardship, unless you have
someone who could take over the reins till you are
through.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:05 am
Yes, Babsat, in my case self employed is very much self doing the work...
Now I have a business partner, and the courthouse is close by, I could reasonably do it for a short time.
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gezzy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 02:20 am
I was called 3 times. Twice I recieved a letter before hand saying they didn't need me and the other time I was actually called up to the jury box and then taken back out. That was a very embarrassing experience for me and I was not happy, to say the least. I was a single mom who took a day off from work just to be humiliated in front of a courtroom full of people. I've been told by many that I should not have been offended, but I didn't think that was right. There are better ways to pick a jury without having to humiliate people. I have nothing against jury duty as it is needed, but I don't like the way they go about it. I hope I never get called on again.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 10:32 am
gezzy, I'm sure no one was trying to humiliate you. That's just the way that juries are selected. The attorneys (and the judge) need to know if you'll be impartial, or if there are other factors which would decide against you being called. It's not meant to be anything personal. By the way (sorry if this is a bit of a tangent, babs), how would you select jurors differently?

I'm an attorney, and there used to be (when we were living there) an attorneys' exemption in NY. That was struck down by the NY Court of Appeals but we had moved by that time.

I was never called for the year we lived in Rhode Island, but I didn't have a drivers' license there. In Massachusetts, I've been called twice and have gone to the court house both times. The first time, I was dismissed before being called. The second time, I was empaneled but after questioning I was dismissed. I know that being a lawyer is often enough for a side to not want me on the panel, but not always.

My husband, on the other hand, has served, and would do it again if it coincides with a non-busy time. I would serve, too, but I haven't been called for a few years.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 11:43 am
Have been called to jury duty four times in the 50 years and was picked for a jury only once. However, the case was settled and the jury dismissed. The rest of the time it was sit around and wait for a week or two. Based on some of the recent verdicts I wonder about the intelligence of those who sit on juries.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 11:46 am
(oops. two threads. never mind this space.)
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:00 pm
I'm sixty years old and although I would like to be called, I never have been. I'm not sure why, I'm a registered voter, and have lived in the same place for sixteen years. I find it odd when I hear that others are called repeatedly.

Perhaps it doesn't matter. My occupation is as a clinical social worker.I've had colleagues tell me that social workers are invariably stereotyped as 'bleeding hearts' and prosecutors usually de-select us.
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Asherman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 01:02 pm
The attorney exclusion law that Jespah speaks of above may not be formally on the books everywhere, but it does operate anyway. Prosecutors and defense attorneys both want juries that will favor their particular cases. Theoretically, juries are unbiased. Haw! Every person carries with them a cartload of biases and prejudices, and lawyers will always seek to capitalize on the jury's emotions. The ancient Greek philosophers who studied rhetoric, the very stuff of trial lawyering, divided it into Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Loosely translated as ethics, emotion, and logic. Guess which sort of argument is most often successful when trying to persuade twelve jurors, good and true? Finding the juries emotional base is one of the reasons for voir dire. No one wants a jury where one or more of the jurors are too familiar with the Law and with the techniques used by contending attorneys.

I suppose that I've been called to serve eighteen or twenty times. A lot. Given my background it shouldn't be surprising if I never actually served on a jury hearing a case. The surprise, my dears, is that I actually did serve on two juries. The first was a criminal case(!), and the second was a medical mal-practice suit. After hearing the criminal case, we retired to the jury room and I was elected foreman. That jury also had a retired military officer, and a retired small business owner on it. The defense, looked at its cards, and decided to cop a plea before the jury could properly hear the case. In the medical-malpractice case the jury process was a travesty. The doctor was painted in the most woeful colors (rich, and that alone meant that he was somehow crooked), and there was no evidence that the doctor had done anything that wasn't accepted practice, or that the failure of the surgery wasn't within the statistically accepted failure rate for such cases. Three of us were for the defense, and the rest wanted to give the poor and sympathetic plaintiffs something like 15 million dollars. Being a civil action, unanimity of the jury wasn't required, but eventually one of the holdouts changed sides under considerable pressure. We were able to argue the award down to three million dollars, if memory serves. I sure hope the doctor was able to get that award reduced on appeal.

Juries can sometimes be a roll of the die. At one time juries were properly selected only from those who knew the parties, and had some knowledge of the case. Much more predictable results were had under that system, but did the accused have as good a chance at justice? Some systems do away with juries altogether, relying upon the court to find the Truth and then impartially administer justice. I don't think we'd much like that system. Would criminal cases be better tried if a unanimous jury wasn't required, or if the jury was reduced to say six jurors? I don't think so.

We aren't asked for much as citizens. We have a responsibility to pay the taxes necessary to administer government, to serve in the military forces to protect and defend the nation and Constitution, to vote our consciences, and --- to serve on juries. That isn't really much to ask in return for the life we lead, yet there are those who would evade their civic responsibilities. The legal system depends upon regular citizens serving to bring the popular notion of justice and fairness to the conflict and contest that occurs whenever the State seeks to convict a citizen of some charge. All right, so we have our lives disrupted for a week, or so and may be inconvenienced a bit. We may sit around reading old magazines and eating crumby court cafeteria food, instead of making a few bucks for the company we work for. Is that too much to ask for a legal system that reflects the needs of the People? If we aren't the People, who is? Would you like to be accused and tried for some un-named crime by Jurists paid for by the State, and whose interests are their own? Much of what we complain of is the direct result of past juries, and well-meaning jurists whose purpose was only to improve the quality of justice delivered to each of us as citizens. Miranda was a painful blow to law enforcement techniques as practiced in earlier times. Which are greater, the justice to those accused of crimes, or the increased difficulty in convicting dangerous criminals? You get to have your say every time you sit on a jury, or are called to make-up a jury pool.
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BillW
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 01:10 pm
Been called twice and served once. A murder trial - "12 Angry Men" kinda reminded me what it was like in the jury room. BTW, when the Judge announced that it was a murder trial (after selection) the intake of air left no oxygen left in the courtroom.

We found the person guilty and after we decided sentence, the Judge came in to thank us for our duty. She also wanted to tell us that a deal had been struck in the begining and she agreed to 12 years. She was happy that we had decided on 25 years. Of course, with good time that would amount to less than 7-8 years.
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