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Jury duty tomorrow

 
 
JPB
 
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 03:23 pm
This will be a first for me. I don't know if I'm looking forward to it or not.

What have your experiences been?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 8,602 • Replies: 42
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 03:33 pm
Where in Illinois are you, J_B? If you're in Cook County, the process is actually fairly painless. Cook County is on a "one-day, one-trial" plan that has jurors show up for one day. If you are picked for a jury, you serve on that jury and then you're finished. If not, then you're finished with your jury service and don't get put back in the pool for a year.

On the other hand, if you're downstate, the standard practice is to put you on "standby" for a two-week period, during which time you are subject to being called to serve on as many juries as you can get picked for. I've done both, and I greatly prefer the Cook County method.
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 03:41 pm
I'm in Lake County, and I need to be available for the week, longer if there's a trial that goes past Friday. I think I just show up tomorrow and get picked for a trial or excused. I'm not sure yet if I'm excused for the week or if I'll need to go back in the rest of the days for possible selection.
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squinney
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 03:44 pm
I'm so jealous. I've always wanted to be on jury duty but was only noticed once. I was instructed to call the night before to see if I was needed. I called and they said they didn't need me.

oh, well. I guess I'm supposed to be happy there isn't more crime / need for jurists.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 03:49 pm
I had a summons to show up for jury duty tomorrow too but of the 9 panels they had summonsed only 3 actually have to show up. I was on panel #5 and was told not to bother showing...
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 03:52 pm
I've been on several juries; just lucky I guess. No major trials, but the process was interesting.

As others who have served have said, it does give one confidence in the system. The jurors take their reponsiblities seriously, and it wasn't always easy to guess who would side with whom when we started deliberating...
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 04:00 pm
I sat on a jury once many years ago. It was a very painful process that left me bitter and deeply cynical about the American system of justice (OK ... I am exaggerating a little bit).

We decided an armed robbery/attempted murder trial. A woman was stabbed as her purse was snatched. The defense was one of mistaken identity.

Not only does a jury consist of 12 random people thrown together in a stressful situation... they lock you in a small room with these 11 other people for long hours with few breaks and tell you that you can't come out until you all agree.

The problem was that 9 (or 10 if you count me) of the 12 jurors were, by my estimation, complete idiots. We had long arguments about why the crack cocaine the prosecution somehow snuck in as evidence didn't mean that we could consider the question of mistaken identity any less carefully.

There was yelling and nastiness. The result seemed to be a compromise accepting the less serious charge (attempted murder vs. armed robbery) in exchange for ignoring some of the troubling evidence in favor of the defense theory that this just might be the wrong guy.

I left feeling bitter and ashamed-- there was so much pressure to go with the core of the jury (i.e. the 7 or 8 people who made up their minds right away). I think I made a right decision, but I have thought about it in retrospect and I am always troubled and I should have taken more time to talk to the 2 other people who were actually willing to talk considerately.

It could be that the jury system is the best of bad ways to handle justice... it could be that professional jurists would be more likely to be just.

One thing I know is that I want nothing to do with it again.
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 04:13 pm
My mother was summoned shortly after she retired. She was very excited, wanted to do her civil duty, etc. She was Phi Beta Kappa in Romance Languages/Latin. In other words - she was a pretty smart duck. She too was turned off by the process. Where she lived she was on jury duty for a month. It was Superior Court and they tried criminal cases.

She sat on a rape trial and kept waiting for someone to ask the witness a certain questions that, for her, would have put it all in place. No one ever asked what to her, was obvious.

She was frustrated with the wasted time of being sent out of the courtroom while the opposing sides met in chambers. When they were brought back into the courtroom, she felt as if she were the fool that didn't know what everyone else knew and yet was expected to determine the Truth of the matter.

She didn't comment to me on the deliberation process so I don't know if she found it frustrating or not. She sat on a couple other trials that month and the following year she was summoned again (not too many people to pick from in Vt). She wasn't looking forward to it all the second time.

I'm called as a petit juror but I don't know yet what types of cases they hear. Mr B served a couple years ago on a traffic accident case. He found it interesting.
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 05:25 pm
been called several times, but always excused before i got to serve, so guess i'll have to settle for kort teevee. (i have to spell it like that to get it past the AUTO SPAM FILTER! Razz )
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realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2005 05:43 pm
I share squinney's jealousy, despite ebrown and J-B's stories. I have never been called.
My mother did only one case, but it turned out to be a pretty big one involving medical malpractice caps. It ended up in the Virginia Supreme Court.
My father, after he retired, was called often. He was an engineer who was totally non-politicial. And he was a no-nonsense kind of person. He never talked about his cases, but I found out later that, as foreman, he had the ability to keep things moving during the deliberations, which probably accounted for his being recalled so often.
In Virginia, any registered voter is eligible for selection. But it does not seem to be a random process. My father is one example. Another is one of my key employees. She is in her late 20's with a college degree, black, and very smart. She gets called for jury duty about twice a year.
I can't subscribe to the notion of professional jurors. But, somehow, we may be inching in, defacto, that direction.
Sorry for the long post. Let us know how it turns out J-B-
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2005 09:05 am
I have served on three juries - just lucky I guess. Each situation was unique. The first was a murder trial - we got to visit the scene of the crime as a field trip. It was also quite shocking to learn how easily some people end up murdering another. Toward the end I had a family member pass away so I left just prior to deliberation. I did speak with the fellow jurors after the fact and as we served for several weeks, we had a get together. It seemed deliberations went very well in the respect that everyone was considerate and listened to one another. Being with those people for so long, I did get the feeling that the majority would react that way.

The second jury I was on was a rape trial. I did participate in the deliberations and again, I think people were civil and respectful of each other. Again it was quite shocking how some people live. It really gives a clean living just out of college woman (at the time) some insights (no matter how ugly) on how some people live.

The last trial I served on was an accident case that should not even have been in court. There were some idiots on the jury, however, those were very few and more level heads prevailed. We were able to compromise with the idiots (basically wanted to say a guy had some fault simply because he was at a complete stop and did not beep the horn to warn the other guy he was weaving) and the resulting outcome was no money was awarded to the guy that was 100% at fault - but suing the obviously wealthy couple.

Overall, I think it is a privilege to serve on jury duty. Yes there is a lot of waiting around, and sometimes you have to work with idiots to come to a reasonable conclusion, but if we want the legal system to work, we need to step up and serve.

Unless some one has a better way?
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2005 05:16 pm
Yesterday I did a major workout at my healthclub for the first time in ages.

Today, I had to be at court by 9:00 am. I got up at 6:00 and before I took my first step I started having back spasms. Oh crap, guess I shouldn't have done such a big workout yesterday. I got back into bed and lay there for a while. I was eventually able to roll over and Mr B tried to massage my lower back. I put an ice pack on it, rubbed arnica cream into it, put on the stretchy brace that the chiropractor gave me two years ago when I had spasms, and hobbled out to the car to drive the 45 minute trip to the courthouse. I walked the two blocks from the parking garage to the courthouse but it wasn't an easy walk. It took me about 20 minutes to get from my car to the jury assembly room.

I checked in at 8:55 and was told to find a seat and we would be having an orientation at 9:30. Huh? Why did I have to be there before nine if our first order of business didn't start until 9:30? grumble, grumble, grumble. I'd brought a backpack with a good book, a cd player, and some meditation music, so I plugged in and tried to de-stress. I had to stand up every 10 minutes or so because of the spasms, but as long as I kept moving I was ok. Our orientation took about 45 minutes. She said they would start calling juror pools anytime after 10:30. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

At 11:45 she announced we were excused for lunch and to be back by 1:30. I walked back to my car where I'd kept a cooler with my lunch, carried it over to a park, sat in the 95 degree heat, ate quickly and then hobbled back to the courthouse for the afternoon session. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

At 3:45 she announced we were excused for the day, but to call in after 4:30 this afternoon to see if we had to come back tomorrow morning for Wednesday's cases. I'm not on for the morning, but I have to call back at 11:15 tomorrow to see if I have to show up at 1:30 and at 4:30 to see if I have to show up on Thursday.

150 people were summoned for jury duty today, zero were called to serve. I'll be glad when this week is over.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2005 05:31 pm
Boy, now I really appreciate how it works in my area, which is as JoefromChicago said is true for Cook County.
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realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2005 05:43 pm
Ouch, J-B, what a wasted day. I hope you are feeling better tomorrow.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 08:08 am
J_B: my last experience with jury duty was pretty much the same as yours (albeit without the back spasms). Got to the courthouse early, went through orientation, waited around for a while, went out to lunch, and then was dismissed when I returned. The difference, however, is that I didn't have to come back the next day.
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 08:55 am
I understand your frustration about the sitting around, etc., that is the ugly part of serving. Knowing human nature, the courts have people arrive earlier than needed because some people could get lost, some didn't realize it would take so long to get there and there are always those people who are just always late and us on-time people suffer as a result. Also, if everyone arrives at 9:00, it could take some time to check everyone in. If a court (or anyone for that matter) want people to be available for first order of business, it is necessary to require people to arrive prior to that time.

Also, many people may not realize that sometimes a new trial is scheduled to begin, but the defendant will last minute settle without even a trial. That could be one reason why they say they will start at such and such time and it does not. I know of one case where a jury was selected, then broke for lunch, only to have the defendant settle during the lunch hour and the jury was dismissed.
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Jim
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 12:32 pm
I was called twice in Jefferson County, Texas back in the 80's.

The first time was a messy child custody case, and I'm glad I wasn't chosen as a juror.

The second time was a "habitual criminal" for breaking and entering, and I was picked for the jury. It's funny...before then my friends and I would joke about locking criminals up and throwing away the key, but when the responsibility is actually on your shoulders it is very different indeed. The jury was unanimous that the defendant was guilty, but we all thought the police work was very sloppy. The guy broke into a house, and not only robbed it but trashed it needlessly in the process. We were all expecting dozens or even hundreds of fingerprints, but they only offered us one.
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realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 04:42 pm
Interesting, Jim, about the collective reasoning of a jury in reaching a decision.
I live in a college town (Charlottesville, VA). There has always been a certain animosity between town and gown. The perception is that the students are rich, white and arrogant while the rest of us are working class and not too bright.
A case hit our courts (rjb is recalling this from memory, so some of the details may be faulty) that has upset a lot of folks, A UVA student, quite drunk, got into a confrontation with a local guy (perhaps intoxicated) in the nightclub area adjacent to UVA. The local guy, a laborer and a volunteer fireman, got stabbed numerous times and died.
Murder was the charge. But the jury decided on a (mere) 15 month sentence for a much lesser charge. That pissed a lot of people off but in due course the story faded away.
But one of the jurors has written a story for her college alumni magazine about her experience (I have no idea why she would do that or why they would publish it. Some school called something like Swarthmore).
Anyway, the gist of the article was that the jury, after a lot of deliberation, came to the conclusion that the guy, because of his being in a state of heavy drunkenness, had acted without "deliberate malice" towards the victim.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 06:02 pm
I've never been called for jury duty. I think it would be pretty interesting.

In Oregon, jurors can ask questions (through the judge) in civil cases in every county and can ask questions (through the judge) in criminal cases in a few counties, with more counties slated to join in soon.

Is this that unusual?
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slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 06:37 am
I've got Grand Jury duty next month. Summmons kindof scares me, in terms of time required. Gives me a date and time to call to see if I need report, but then advises that I'll need to serve from 1-3 days a month for 6-18 months. Anybody know how that works in Virginia? Is it one case and I'm done, or will I be called and recalled for different cases over the next 6-18 months?
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