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Jury duty tomorrow

 
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 07:00 am
Hey, Virginia. Never served on a grand jury, but this might help:

http://www.courts.state.va.us/gjury/cover.htm
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 07:33 am
slkshock7 wrote:
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?


Usually grand juries are called for a time period and they just work on all of the cases that they can during that time period. Letty's pamphlet link can tell you more.

It should be an interesting time.
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slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 11:27 am
Letty wrote:
Hey, Virginia. Never served on a grand jury, but this might help:

http://www.courts.state.va.us/gjury/cover.htm


Thanks, Letty, but I'll be serving on a Federal Grand Jury...I've found some stuff here but the stories on this site don't encourage me much. Sounds like the prosecutor walks the GJ down a rosy garden path and then the GJ endorses what the prosecutor wants. Generally, I don't like being simply a "rubber stamp" but I'll only be one of 23 and only a simple majority (minumum 12) is needed to indict. Incredibly as it may sound, from that site, sounds like 99.9% (or better) of GJ sessions result in an indictment.

jespah wrote:
It should be an interesting time.

Not sure I agree with you here. Sounds like we'll be listening to a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo and then rubber-stamping what the prosecutor wanted. I must admit, my little bit of research has greatly lessened my respect for those breathless news articles on grand jury indictments of Clinton, DeLay or Abramhoff associates.
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 11:36 am
uhoh, slks. I see your problem.

All I know about grand juries of any kind is the way they operate on Law and Order.

Good luck from a former Virginian..
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 02:03 pm
slkshock7 wrote:
Letty wrote:
...Generally, I don't like being simply a "rubber stamp" ....


Actually, that's exactly what a GJ is supposed to be. This is why a lot of states have replaced the Grand Jury system with what's called a Prosecutor's information. The Prosecutor provides the stamp (for him- or herself, rather convenient, eh?). At least it doesn't inconvenience a buncha people.

Well, it can be interesting to see the process. It is something of an inner circle process. Most people called for jury duty do not get GJ duty. It also harkens back to an earlier time, when people didn't have such busy lives and could spend that kind of time just working on court stuff.
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Beena
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2005 10:24 am
realjohnboy wrote:
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.


I would have fired the Jury and hired another or given this verdict - 10years behind bars with parole - Enjoy! Just as the killer enjoyed getting drunk and going on a murder spree, I'd send him to a prison spree. If he murdered without malice in his heart then his mind had to have been unstable and if I found that it was not (Heavy drinking does not make people commit murders), then he has to get a similar sentence as anyone not under the influence of alcohol.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2005 12:55 pm
Juries aren't hired and fired in the US, they are selected by counsel and judges and serve for free (with unemployed jurors getting a very small stipend for their time, but most jurors serve for free in the US).
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Beena
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2005 11:16 pm
I know! When I said that, I meant having the Jury removed and getting another. Just because a Jury has given an unjust decision doesn't mean I have to accept it. It wouldn't be fair to the parties concerned. And now don't tell me what a spree is, I know I shouldn't have used that word 'cause it's not really applicable, but I just fear in the future it would have become probable looking at the case.
0 Replies
 
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Dec, 2005 11:21 pm
Hi J_B,

I served on a jury about six months or so back. I found it rather interesting.

But, if you don't want to do it, you can do like this other person did during voir dire. They told the judge they were Christian and their religion would not allow them to judge anyone for anything. Worked for him.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Dec, 2005 09:19 am
Beena wrote:
I know! When I said that, I meant having the Jury removed and getting another. Just because a Jury has given an unjust decision doesn't mean I have to accept it. It wouldn't be fair to the parties concerned. And now don't tell me what a spree is, I know I shouldn't have used that word 'cause it's not really applicable, but I just fear in the future it would have become probable looking at the case.


Ah, sorry, I misunderstood you, Beena.

Selecting a new jury after the verdict (actually after empanelment) isn't possible, because double jeopardy attaches. E. g. you can't be tried for the same crime twice. This is a protection that is offered to defendants in the US. The idea is that a prosecutor can't just keep picking juries until one of them rules the way he likes. This also means that, once people go through a trial for a particular crime, it's done, regardless of the outcome. Otherwise, today you could be worrying about something from 1987!

Anyway, the other thing is parole. Sentencing someone to time with parole is a lot nicer for them than not giving them parole. Parole is when a prisoner is released early, usually due to good behavior although sometimes it happens because of prison overcrowding. Hence denying parole or sentencing someone with no hope of parole means that 10 years means 10 years.

Oh, and juries don't do sentencing, except when it comes to deciding on the death penalty, or not. Judges do the sentencing part. Juries rule on the facts, they are called the trier of fact, whereas the judge is referred to as the trier of the law. They've got different roles and judges don't simply decide on the validity of objections; they also determine the punishment that is meted out if a defendant is convicted, albeit within structured sentencing guidelines.

Thanks for making me think about Crim. Law again; it's been quite a while.
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Beena
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 07:58 am
Doesn't the judge give his verdict after the Jury's decision? I would have asked the Jury why they reached the decision they did and if they did not have a reasonable answer for the UNJUST and IDIOTIC decision they arrived at, I would have had them removed before I gave my verdict!
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 08:31 am
Very interesting thread for someone like me, from a country where we dont have juries.

I appreciate the citizen participation element in it, and the obvious honest deliberation many juries put in, a little bit more even after this thread. But still leaning to thinking its better without 'em.
0 Replies
 
flyboy804
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 09:00 am
For those not familiar with the U.S. Court system, one of Jespah's statements might be misinterpreted concerning double jeopardy. If the jury can not reach a verdict (hung jury) there can be a new trial if the prosecutor so chooses.
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Beena
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 09:01 am
jespah,
Oh! Me gosh! I know what you mean. to get another Jury, the trial would have to proceed again and since that cannot be so, so looking at the foolish decision made by the Jury, I would discount their decision on the basis that it had no ground and give the verdict myself. It may not be the perfect decision but it would still be right to a point.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 09:08 am
Momma Angel wrote:
Hi J_B,

I served on a jury about six months or so back. I found it rather interesting.

But, if you don't want to do it, you can do like this other person did during voir dire. They told the judge they were Christian and their religion would not allow them to judge anyone for anything. Worked for him.

Just say you're prejudiced against all minorities, that you'd think police officers always tell the truth on the witness stand, and that a defendant must be guilty -- otherwise they wouldn't have been arrested in the first place. If you say those things during voir dire, I guarantee you'll never serve a day on a jury. Of course, you might serve some time in jail for contempt, but you'll never serve on a jury.
0 Replies
 
Beena
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 09:12 am
jespah,
And no I would not keep picking Jurys until one made a decision I liked. For the same reason I don't have to accept some foolish decision made by the Jury either. By the way, doesn't the Judge keep track during the trial as to which way and how and why the Jury's thinking is going? I'm pretty sure that before midway during this trial I'd have figured that no Jury is better than this Jury or another should be called for and so before the verdict, the decision made would be just I guess.
0 Replies
 
Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 11:11 am
Joefromchicago,

Love it!
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 12:57 pm
Beena wrote:
Doesn't the judge give his verdict after the Jury's decision? I would have asked the Jury why they reached the decision they did and if they did not have a reasonable answer for the UNJUST and IDIOTIC decision they arrived at, I would have had them removed before I gave my verdict!


Nope, judges do not give verdicts; juries do. The jury's decision is the verdict.

...

flyboy804 wrote:
For those not familiar with the U.S. Court system, one of Jespah's statements might be misinterpreted concerning double jeopardy. If the jury can not reach a verdict (hung jury) there can be a new trial if the prosecutor so chooses.


Thanks for clarifying. You're right, of course.

Beena wrote:
jespah,
Oh! Me gosh! I know what you mean. to get another Jury, the trial would have to proceed again and since that cannot be so, so looking at the foolish decision made by the Jury, I would discount their decision on the basis that it had no ground and give the verdict myself. It may not be the perfect decision but it would still be right to a point.


This is still not how it works. There are cases tried by judges but if a jury trial has been requested (by the defense, plus there are a lot of situations wherein a jury trial is granted automatically), the judge can't suddenly decide to rule from the bench.

...

Beena wrote:
jespah,
And no I would not keep picking Jurys until one made a decision I liked. For the same reason I don't have to accept some foolish decision made by the Jury either. By the way, doesn't the Judge keep track during the trial as to which way and how and why the Jury's thinking is going? I'm pretty sure that before midway during this trial I'd have figured that no Jury is better than this Jury or another should be called for and so before the verdict, the decision made would be just I guess.


Yes, you do have to accept the jury's decision if a criminal defendant is acquitted. Sorry if you don't like it, but that's how rights are protected in the US. The prosecution cannot appeal if they don't get a conviction.

No, the judge does not keep track of how the jury is thinking during the course of the case. The judge has many other things to do while the case is going on, including any number of matters that are determined outside the jury's view, such as inspecting evidence in camera. No one takes a poll of the jury until the verdict is rendered, and even then that is not a requirement.

This is how the US justice system works. Like the decision or hate it, such is life. Bad decisions are sometimes made by juries. American citizens who don't like the way juries make decisions can do two things about it: (1) they can lobby to have laws changed (which will not affect any cases already decided) or (2) they can make sure, when they are next called for jury duty, to get on a jury, so that they can make a decision in at least one case.

But that's it. That's how this works.
0 Replies
 
Beena
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 08:54 pm
So, if defense wants to win the case when they know they are in the wrong and will lose a case, they can ask for a Jury trial? What kind of justice system is that? My God!
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2006 06:06 am
Um, no. The defense asks for a jury trial for lots of reasons. It doesn't necessarily mean the defense thinks/knows they're going to lose.

Anyway, might I suggest reading up on American law a bit? The Cornell Law School has all sorts of information online, here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/
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