Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Jury Duty Report

 

In late October I received a summons to appear for jury duty on December 6. This is old hat for me. Apparently, I am one of the lucky ones. This was my fifth summons for jury duty. One of the ladies there stated her age and said it was her first time. Her stated age was three years’ higher than my own. One of the judges came in to speak with us while we were waiting. The highest number she had ever heard of was a lady in her eighties who had been summoned six times.

The Process

If you have not been summoned to jury duty, or not been summoned lately, the process works something like this. You may receive a jury qualification questionaire. These days, such is filled out online. This may be a new thing or limited to some courts. I do not remember having filled one out before this current go-round. I received the summons to participate in the questionaire last summer.

Then you receive the summons for jury duty with a date. You may get a deferment or plead health, etc., by following the instructions that come with the summons. My summons was dated 29 October for a report date of 6 December. My county district courts apparenly summon a new pool of potential jurors monthly.

Nowadays, there is usually a call-in system where you can find out if you’re still needed. You call it the evening before your report date or each evening during your term of service in the jury pool. The courts summon a number of people based on how many cases are in progress and should see the jury phase for a given date. Many of the cases settle in one form or another before the jury trial date comes. For civil trials, it may be a settlement between the parties. For criminal cases, it may be a plea bargain. The judge who visited the jury assembly room yesterday mentioned that even having the jury pool present on the court date can spur action on the part of defendants to settle or plea. All of the cases on her docket for the upcoming week settled yesterday morning. Sometimes, enough cases settle early that they decide they don’t need jurors to come in or only a portion of those who received the initial summons. Thus the call-in system was born. Thank goodness for such modern technologies.

If you do have to go in, there is usually a jury assembly room where the prospective jurors are given a brief orientation and then wait to be called. You might want to bring a book. Depending on the court that has called you up, it could be a long wait. The first time I was called up, it was for a one-week period, and it was before the county I was living in at the time had instituted the call-in-the-evening-before system. I had to drive into the county seat every day that week and wait in the jury assembly room. Only on the last day did I get selected as a potential juror and saw the inside of the courtroom, but never got into the box. I did get to watch the voir dire for other veniremen, though.

Speaking of which, once you’re in the potential juror waiting area, whatever your court may call it, the clerk or clerks of the judge or judges for which you have been summoned may come in with a list. They will call the list of names. The number they call will depend on how large the jury is and other factors. In the court I was in yesterday, they would want seven jurors (six and an alternate) for a criminal trial and five for a civil. For the one criminal trial that actually went through at this small district court, they called about thirty veniremen to get the seven jurors. “Venireman,” or perhaps these days it’s “venireperson,” is a person who has been summoned for jury duty but not yet empaneled on the jury. Those who are called will follow the clerk out and go to the courtroom for the voir dire.

Voir dire is descended from Norman French, as many legal terms are, and originally was voire dire, “to speak the truth.” In the US, the term is now used to designate the questioning of veniremen to attempt to establish any prejudices, and so forth. It is the process through which some number of prospective jurors is whittled down to an actual seated jury.

What happens after that? I have no idea. I have never gotten that far.

My Experiences

My first summoning experience was more than a quarter-century ago. The county I was in at that time did not yet have the call-in system. My jury duty period was a week. I got to drive in about a dozen miles to the county seat each morning. I was in the jury assembly room for most of that week. Around noon each day, we were given the chance to experience the joys of restaurants available to us in beautiful downtown Mount Clemens. I was finally called into a courtroom and got to watch the voir dire process. I believe it was for a civil trial, rather than criminal. The jury was selected before I ever made it to the box, and I and the others who did not make it were sent back to the jury assembly room. Being at the county seat and at the main county courthouse, that assembly room was very large, easily large enough for a couple of hundred people.

One of the books I brought with me for that stint was Ferrol Sams’ Run with the Horsemen. A first cousin of my mother’s recommended Ferrol Sams to me. She had gone to Mercer in the same period as Dr. Sams did, although she was closer in age to John Birch (who had nothing to do with the society that was named after him posthumously). If you’re a Southerner or had a Southern upbringing, the book may explain things about your life that you never consciously thought about. It is semi-autobiographical about Sams’ childhood, and has some embarrassing scenes but also some hilarious bits. One of my favorites was where the young protagonist had just destroyed several acres of cropland and his father was heard to say, “You know, he’s a good boy. He minds well. I just can’t think of enough things to tell him not to do.” If you laugh out loud while reading a book in a jury assembly room, people look at you really funny.

My second summons was after the same county had installed the new call-in system. I called in five evenings in a row and was informed that I would not be needed. That was a wonderful thing, especially since I was badly needed at work.

My third experience was in a different county. In this one, I do not remember the terms of service offhand. I did have to go into the main county courthouse in the county seat. I was called to the courtroom and made it to the jury box for the voir dire. It was a criminal trial. I thought I was going to get on, but there was this one question: “Are you related to or close friends with any policemen, and if so, can you be fair as a juror and not prejudicial towards believing the policeman?” After I got through listing the close relatives who are or were law enforcement officers and all the ones from their departments I had known, I don’t think the defense attorney really cared whether I thought I could be objective. The police sergeant who was there to testify was shaking his head with one hand covering his mouth as he tried not to be seen to be laughing.

My fourth summons was for Federal Court. That would have meant going to downtown Detroit. If I remember rightly, it was another where I called in and was told I was not needed after all.

My fifth summons was for the county district court less than a mile from my home. That was for yesterday. I went in with about fifty other people. The jury assembly room only had about five empty chairs. It’s a small district court with only two courtroom and two judges. Shortly after our orientation video, about thirty people were called to go into one of the courtrooms. We who remained in the jury assembly room mostly read. Those of us who had not been called were finally dismissed around 12:30 PM with no more trials needing juries for next week. (Yesterday was jury selection for trials next week.) I brought along Michael Henry’s 5 Star. (Review to come later today, but short version: good novel.)

Other Thoughts

It was an interesting dynamic yesterday. As the room filled up, almost everyone tried to be as far from everyone else as possible. This became increasingly more difficult as more people arrived. There was one seat, the middle in a row of five up against one of the shorter walls of the room, where it was occupied by three different people. The first woman got up to use the lavatory, and another woman arrived and sat down there. When the first returned, she took the fifth seat in the row, but then the second woman got up to use the lavatory, and a third newly-arrived woman sat down in the middle seat.

Despite being a hermit and curmudgeon in my normal dealings, I had struck up a conversation with a few people before the assembly room was open and check-in had started. One of the other gents sat with me at a table, and we talked. He had been through a recent trial on a misdemeanor count related to his business and pursued by the recently ousted city manager. The former city manager of our suburb is apparently now making big rocks into small rocks, but the experience had left the other businessman with a bad attitude towards jury trials. “If I ever have something like that happen again, I’ll just leave it to a judge.” Guess who was the first name called to go through the voir dire for the one trial yesterday? A third guy who had sat at our table never even looked at us. Eventually, he discovered a blank spot against a wall and took his chair over there so as not to interact with humans. This seemed to be more of an issue with those under thirty than some of us who are a bit grayer and longer in the tooth.

My third time on jury duty, I believe we could bring in phones and computers to work on in the jury assembly room, but that was enough years ago that things have changed. No recording devices of any kind are allowed in the court building. And since most cell phones are cameras and portable computers have audio and video recording capabilities, none of them are allowed in. Apparently they had problems with people recording courtroom events and then editing video to make it appear as if things had happened that had not happened, so everyone suffers.

There are instructions that come with the summons. Among the instructions was this gem: “Please dress appropriately for the courtroom. Shorts, jeans and T-shirts are not allowed.” (They need an Oxford comma.) Despite this being right in the instructions, I noticed that at least six of the fifty potential jurors were wearing jeans. I did not notice any T-shirts, although there were sweatshirts and hoodies. Also, there were no shorts, but December in Michigan seldom has weather conducive to shorts. There were no suits, and I was the only male who even had a sportcoat. A few of the women were appropriately dressed, but I saw at least two pairs of yoga pants. No, ladies, yoga pants are not appropriate for wearing in court. Now, if I were a judge, I would be a bit worried about people selected as jurors who can’t follow instructions. Forget about being a judge, just as a citizen, I am concerned about that. Yet the veniremen who can follow instructions are the ones who will probably be eliminated first in the voir dire.

Et Vous, Ricochet

Have any of you had experiences you would like to share about being on jury duty? How many times have you been summoned? Perhaps you are a lawyer and have gone through the voir dire process from the other side? Any thoughts to share?

Published in Law
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There are 74 comments.

  1. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I served once, on a criminal case in the local county seat. I tried to remain in a state of prayer as I listened to the testimony and proceedings, praying for the judge, for the victim, for the defendant and what looked like a father or father figure. The defendant stole $20 from a woman and then punched her in the face when she said she was going to call the police. It was a pretty clear case.

    I remember being impressed with the amount of effort and cost made to bring such a small but awful crime to court, to prosecute the whole thing.

    I felt honored to be part of the justice system, and a citizen in such a republic.

    • #1
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:02 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  2. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Regarding the dress code:

    I was pregnant when I served on the jury, and I don’t honestly remember what I wore, but I know I didn’t then or ever have any maternity business suits and few maternity dresses. But I did not wear yoga pants, that I can swear to.

    I served as an election inspector last month and noticed that only two men wore suits to the polling site all day, one of whom was the local college president. Some people were definitely in their pajamas and slippers.

    • #2
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:07 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Some people were definitely in their pajamas and slippers.

    There might be such a thing as being a bit too informal.

    • #3
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:11 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  4. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Some people were definitely in their pajamas and slippers.

    There might be such a thing as being a bit too informal.

    They were probably all college students from SUNY New Paltz, and the polling site was only a couple of blocks from their room, so they shuffled on over. One might say, “At least they were voting!”

    • #4
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:16 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. A-Squared Inactive

     I’ve been summoned 4 times. Twice, I was let go by 2 PM without ever being called. Once, we were called and they settled the case as we were filing in the room for voir dire. Once I actually sat on a jury for a DUI case. 

    Voir Dire took about as long as the actual trial. They went through over a hundred people (everyone summoned that day) to seat a jury of 12 plus the alternate. Almost everyone had a story about a drunk driver and claimed they could not remain free from bias. The pickings were so slim that they actually seated a lawyer on the jury (which is very rare from what I’ve been told.)

    • #5
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:37 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I was called and got to serve in a civil case. Dress wise, I seem to remember we were all professionally dressed. I was not the only guy on day one in a coat and tie. It was a clear cut case, where the defendants had violated the rights of another man’s easement, and were very clearly harrassing him on his property, and things had been going on for years. This included having his best friend arrested at his home, on a Sunday, because the friend had used the plantiff’s property for hunting. Imagine being arrested in front of your kids! Really total jerks. 

    The judge ended up doing a directed verdict, and it was up to us to decide penalties. The plantiff asked for $250k. Then we went back to deliberate. 

    At this point, we had heard a day and a half of trial, and had two lunches together. We had talked and started to know each other. We sat down and I said “Well, we need to pick a Foreman,” and a woman pointed across the table at me and said, “I think Bryan should be our Foreman.” So, I was elected by acclimation before 10 seconds had passed. 

    I enjoyed the experience, and found I was good at it, using my therapist skills to help keep the deliberations moving. We had a worksheet to help us understand the law and the levels of penalties. I went last with my thoughts and advocated for the full amount so that we could bankrupt the defendants and force them to sell their land and give the poor guy some peace. That changed the minds of two of the other men right there. As a group, we started to settled towards $150k, which I was OK with, having used the full $250k as a jumping off point (always go higher than you want at first). We had one woman, conservative, worried about run away awards. I was sympathetic, but these people needed to be taught a lesson. 

    Still, she felt pressure and said “I’ll go with that if y’all want it”, and as foreman I was clear, “No. You state your case and we will talk about it. We have to all agree, and you don’t, and we are not going to pressure you into it.” This extended deliberations for another half hour, but eventually, we won her over. She looked a lot happier having the extra time. I am always proud of myself for that, as we could have left sooner, but she would have been less happy. I got up and told the Baliff we were ready.

    So, back in the courtroom, I got to stand up and read our verdict. That was interesting because it was me, and I saw the pain on the face of the defendants as I read it. Delivery of bad news and all. I got little satisfaction from it; it was my job and I executed it. We were polled by the defense and then discharged.

    My parents know the judge, and he told them the judgement was held up on appeal. Good. 

    • #6
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:47 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  7. Vectorman Thatcher

    I was about 30 when first called for a jury, and empanelled on a quick “trial.” In that southern state, no defendants could be sent for psychiatric examination without a jury. Both the prosecutor and defense lawyer requested that the defendant be sent for evaluation. The whole process took less than 1 hour.

    My wife got called in for an armed robbery where the male defendant bounded the female store owner in a back room. He was sentenced by the jury for over 20 years.

    Like @arahant, I’ve had 4 more jury summons, but never made it past the call-in. After filling in a long form, I was a potential Federal Jury candidate for one year. I think retired people get summoned more often.

    • #7
    • December 7, 2019, at 5:56 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  8. The Reticulator Member

    I’ve been through the process a few times in a different Michigan county. It has been several years since my last time, though. I think I’ve already told Ricochet about some of my experiences. At one point (actually more than one point) I took the opportunity to complain about having to be in a jury waiting room with a television turned on. I considered it above and beyond the call of duty. Mrs R has been there more recently than I have, and reported that the television is now gone. But maybe I am now known as a crank so am no longer summoned. I doubt it, though, because I’ve seen a lot of people (including myself) try to play the crank card to get themselves dismissed during the jury selection process, but without success.

    • #8
    • December 7, 2019, at 6:22 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. The Reticulator Member

    A-Squared (View Comment):

    I’ve been summoned 4 times. Twice, I was let go by 2 PM without ever being called. Once, we were called and they settled the case as we were filing in the room for voir dire. Once I actually sat on a jury for a DUI case.

    Voir Dire took about as long as the actual trial. They went through over a hundred people (everyone summoned that day) to seat a jury of 12 plus the alternate. Almost everyone had a story about a drunk driver and claimed they could not remain free from bias. The pickings were so slim that they actually seated a lawyer on the jury (which is very rare from what I’ve been told.)

    I once was selected in a process that took three days. It was (as I learned later) a racially-charged taxicab murder which had earlier ended in a hung jury, but we had been away on one of our long vacations when the first trial was in the news, so I knew nothing about it. But if I remember right, the case was settled after the jury was selected but before it went to trial again.

    I did sit on the jury on another long trial involving a shooting. They had selected 14 jurors to ensure that there would still be 12 by the time the trial was over, and I was one of the two selected to be dismissed when the jury went to the jury deliberation room. So I’ve never experienced that part.

    • #9
    • December 7, 2019, at 6:33 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  10. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    I have received jury duty summonses but have never served. One was scheduled for about 5 days after our son was born. Since he is adopted, it was a bit of a challenge to get the required letter from the pediatrician, because I am quite certain they had never had that request before.

    In Cook County they have a one day/one trial system. If you have to go to the courthouse you are excused after one day (usually by or a little after lunchtime), or you go through the process of being selected for a jury and serve (or are then excused).

    Cook county is so large and the courts are so…busy…that there are several courthouses. They also try to summon potential jurors from far, far away. There is a courthouse about two miles from our house, but you have to be over 70 or something to request a close-to-your-home courthouse. I have been to 26th and California in Chicago and Maywood, a southwest suburb. To arrive on time during the morning rush basically requires a 90 minute lead time, so you are either barely making it on time or you are cooling your jets in the parking lot for a while. Jurors are paid $17.25 a day, whether or not you serve. That’s not even gas money.

    I am always intrigued by the lonely hearts who are sorely disappointed they get sent home. Were I to be selected to serve on a jury, I would want to be the foreman to move things along as quickly as possible. I am not interested in ambulance-chasing civil cases or gruesome and sad crime stories (of which we have plenty in good ole Chicagoland). I am also not interested in sitting through trial lawyer presentations that do not rise to the level of an old Law and Order script. Now get off my lawn.

    • #10
    • December 7, 2019, at 6:36 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  11. The Reticulator Member

    A-Squared (View Comment):
    Voir Dire took about as long as the actual trial. They went through over a hundred people (everyone summoned that day) to seat a jury of 12 plus the alternate. Almost everyone had a story about a drunk driver and claimed they could not remain free from bias. The pickings were so slim that they actually seated a lawyer on the jury (which is very rare from what I’ve been told.)

    I never saw that happen. But once I was quickly dismissed when the defense attorney saw my name on the jury pool. She’s a friend of ours. She had earlier worked in the prosecutor’s office, but quit along with some others during a scandal involving the elected chief prosecutor. We had once been at a party at her house where some of her colleagues all seemed to be grousing about what was going on, but they were discreet enough that if I hadn’t already known there was some kind of trouble in the office I might not have noticed. If I had got to know them better, maybe I could have been quickly dismissed from more jury selections.

    • #11
    • December 7, 2019, at 6:49 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I was called twice. Once to a Federal Court in downtown Chicago. I didn’t have to appear when I called the phone number, so there’s not much to say.

    The other time was a Cook County court. I took Killshot by Elmore Leonard. It was okay. The most notable thing about the waiting room was the large percentage of people who did not bring something to read. I’m not sure that people that disengaged should serve on juries. I’m not sure that people that disengaged should be issued driver licenses either. I was bounced after I gave avionics software engineer as my occupation, and when asked described what ‘avionics’ meant. It was a criminal trial, and apparently logic, analysis, and attention to timing issues was problematic to someone’s alibi/theory of the crime.

    • #12
    • December 7, 2019, at 6:56 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  13. A-Squared Inactive

    Percival (View Comment):
    I was called twice. Once to a Federal Court in downtown Chicago. I didn’t have to appear when I called the phone number, so there’s not much to say.

    Oh, yeah, I forgot about the couple of times I received a notice and but when I called, those with the first letter of my last name weren’t required to show up.

    Also, I went to three different court houses in my various times, once in Arlington Heights, once in the Federal Courthouse, and once in the Criminal court house on the south side of Chicago. 

    • #13
    • December 7, 2019, at 7:19 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    “Are you related to or close friends with any policemen, and if so, can you be fair as a juror and not prejudicial towards believing the policeman?”

    My oldest daughter is a lawyer and FBI agent. She was called a few years ago and, somewhat to her surprise, was chosen for the jury.Then she was elected to be foreman. I don’t recall the sort of case.

    My one experience with jury duty was amusing. It was in Newport Beach CA, a very affluent town in Orange County. I had previously been exempt as a surgeon but I was now retired. The waiting area was large and as described. A panel including me was chosen for voir dire. The case was civil, an auto accident with damages but no injuries. During a break for lunch, a number of us in the panel observed the plaintiff and defendant socializing outside on a patio. We also noticed that there was no insurance company involved. During voir dire when we resumed, another in the panel was being questioned by the plaintiff lawyer and was asked something about the case. I forget the question but the answer was that it was obvious to the juror that this case was insurance fraud and the two parties were involved in it together. The judge then asked the entire panel how many had ever been sued. The entire panel, made up of building contractors and doctors, among others, raised our hands. The judge then took the two lawyers into chambers and then returned, thanking us all and dismissing the panel. It was hilarious. Mistrial in voir dire.

    I have done a lot of expert witness testimony in court, plus testimony as a percipient witness in trauma cases, but this is the funniest experience. The judge could hardly keep from laughing out loud.

    • #14
    • December 7, 2019, at 7:19 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  15. Vectorman Thatcher

    Percival (View Comment):
    I was bounced after I gave avionics software engineer as my occupation, and when asked described what ‘avionics’ meant. It was a criminal trial, and apparently logic, analysis, and attention to timing issues was problematic to someone’s alibi/theory of the crime.

    You’re exactly the type that should be selected! Especially if you have an open mind to the legality of what’s being presented. Jury nullification shouldn’t be used frivolously, as it was in the O.J. Simpson trial, but as a final stopgap to prosecutor misconduct.

    • #15
    • December 7, 2019, at 7:31 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. MarciN Member

    Arahant: In late October I received a summons to appear for jury duty on December 6th. This is old hat for me. Apparently, I am one of the lucky ones. This was my fifth summons for jury duty.

    I was called to serve on a jury just a couple of months ago. I have a fat file of jury summonses too. “Again? Why me? Where is everyone else in the state of Massachusetts?” I’ve asked myself every time. Usually I’ve called the night before and I’ve been told the case has been settled so not to come in.

    This last time, I had to go to the courthouse where I waited in the jury pool to see if I would be needed. As it turned out, the judge dismissed us. But while we were waiting, we watched a movie made by the courthouse judges and other staff to welcome us and give us instructions and a little history of the jury system and process. In the movie, one of the points the judge made, half laughing, humbly but smiling, was this, and I am paraphrasing: 

    “I know a lot of you have received many jury summonses. You’re wondering why you get called up so often. We know this is happening to people within our random-selection computer process, and we don’t why. It has been happening ever since we introduced the one-day, one-trial system linked to the [the voter registration system or driver’s license system, I forget which one he said]. It is a mystery to us too. We’re really not trying to bother some people more than others.” 

    Good heavens–this happens so often that it’s in the speech the judge made for everyone? Really?!? I couldn’t get the judge’s remarks out of my head for the weeks that followed. I live in what many call Silicon Valley Senior or Junior, depending on how much credit one gives California in the startup race. My point is that this state has probably as much collective computer know-how as any populated place on the planet. And even we cannot achieve true randomization. 

    I find that fact fascinating. 

    • #16
    • December 7, 2019, at 7:43 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  17. Vectorman Thatcher

    MarciN (View Comment):
    We know this is happening to people within our random-selection computer process, and we don’t why.

    It may be random, but the potential jury pool input might be limited. Such as no felons, unemployed transients, illegals, people previously dismissed due to physical handicaps, etc. If some were called but dismissed for cause, they might also be blocked.

    • #17
    • December 7, 2019, at 8:00 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    My point is that this state has probably as much collective computer know-how as any populated place on the planet. And even we cannot achieve true randomization. 

    I find that fact fascinating. 

    Just try the William F. Buckley method: first 100 people in the Boston phone book (or today’s database equivalent based on phone numbers). That would be more random, I’d wager.

    • #18
    • December 7, 2019, at 8:04 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. MarciN Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    We know this is happening to people within our random-selection computer process, and we don’t why.

    It may be random, but the potential jury pool input might be limited. Such as no felons, unemployed transients, illegals, people previously dismissed due to physical handicaps, etc. If some were called but dismissed for cause, they might also be blocked.

    Although I’m sure that’s true, it still doesn’t explain adequately why some of us are getting called up so frequently. 

    I was just chatting with my husband about this too, because of this post, that it’s happening in Michigan too. Interesting. Obviously, the programming code used here is the same that is being used in other states, and the bug is present everywhere just because it is too expensive for any one state to develop its own jury pool selection software. 

    There’s a woman one my street who has never been called while I’ve been called twice a year for the past five years. 

    I’m in the clear now for three years. I have my little piece of paper that says I don’t need to serve on a jury for three years because two months ago I spent the morning at our courthouse. Yay! I’ve never actually served on a jury through a trial. But I’ve spent a couple of mornings at the courthouse. :-) 

    I love the movie. I wish it were shown to high school students. The jury system is the heart of our freedom. Without it, nothing else in our Constitution matters. :-) I think kids would understand the rights of others better if we could get them to focus on their own rights. The kids I’ve known through raising my own kids have no clue what “rights” actually means or what theirs are. It’s sad. It’s a gift to them they have never opened. A lot of what they read in their history books would make more sense if they had a better understanding of the word “rights.” 

    • #19
    • December 7, 2019, at 8:19 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  20. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    I served on a federal grand jury for four months. It was a monumental pain-in-the-bum…but very, very interesting! Real, serious crime: Arson, Bank-Robbery (yes, people still rob banks,) Child-Porn, Drugs, Extortion, Fraud, Guns…I never fell asleep once!

    • #20
    • December 7, 2019, at 8:47 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  21. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Inactive

    Arahant: Despite being a hermit and curmudgeon in my normal dealings

    This warranted a big “like” from me. Keep up the good work, Ara, but from now on we’ll call you Herm-Curm. (The is from one oftentimes Herm-Curm to another.) For the many years I lived in Los Angeles, I got a fair number of jury enlistment notices. I tore up every one which, I suppose, made me a bad citizen. I think that’s what most people in Los Angeles do, except those who get a monthly check for being unemployed, on welfare, on disability, or for being entitled to some other long-term/permanent couch potato status (approximately 50% of LA residents) that entitles them to non-stop and substantial subsidies and plenty of time to hang out in jury rooms.

    • #21
    • December 7, 2019, at 8:55 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve only ever been called for jury duty twice (I’m 57).

    My first Jury Duty experience was circa 1997. I actually got on a case for that one, a slip-and-fall broken ankle in a Home Depot parking lot on a record-cold day (-20 or so). The woman was suing the guy who did the plowing – don’t know if the store itself settled, or what.

    Trial lasted two days – started in the afternoon, finished the next day. We deliberated about 15 minutes and found for the defendant. My main memory of the experience is the incredible amount of wasted time and the short days that the court seemed to work – show up at 9, take an hour and a half or so break for lunch, out the door by 4. No wonder cases are backlogged for months and years.

    I got called again just this summer. Had to go in, sit in the waiting room for about 5 hours. They called one jury pool of about 30 people, then an hour later said the rest of us could go. I’m really glad I didn’t get picked for that one – it was at the county juvenile center and I’ve heard the cases that go there can be pretty horrific.

    My wife has been called at least two or three times in the 19 years I’ve known her, never gotten on a jury.

     

     

    • #22
    • December 7, 2019, at 9:04 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  23. Qoumidan Coolidge

    I’ve been called 5 or 6 times. Several happened either as I was moving out of the area. And two happened while I had a nursing baby.

    Those turn out to be good reasons to be excused before even going in.

    I’ve also served on two juries. The thing I learned from those is that the law is not clear and people are crazy. The other jurors themselves were wonderful, normal people.

    It is something I am both willing and excited to be a part of, but I can’t say I like it.

    • #23
    • December 7, 2019, at 9:35 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  24. Gary Robbins Reagan

    I have been called for jury duty, but, alas, have always been deleted from the panel. I hope to serve some day. I am jealous of jurors who have been selected.

    In my county, when a jury passes, people rise to their feet, and don’t say a word. One of our judges stands when the jury enters the room and the jury box.

    The assigned bailiffs are very protective of their juries.

    • #24
    • December 7, 2019, at 9:36 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  25. The Reticulator Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    My main memory of the experience is the incredible amount of wasted time and the short days that the court seemed to work – show up at 9, take an hour and a half or so break for lunch, out the door by 4. No wonder cases are backlogged for months and years.

    I was sitting in the jury waiting room when word came in that there was another delay. One of the men sitting with us said to the jury coordinator, who was sitting at her desk facing us, “I guess the wheels of justice turn slowly.” She gave a significant look down the hall toward the courtrooms and said, “But some wheels turn a lot more slowly than others.”

    Maybe it’s an old joke in the business, but I thought it was funny. And informative. 

    • #25
    • December 7, 2019, at 9:42 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    A-Squared (View Comment):
    The pickings were so slim that they actually seated a lawyer on the jury (which is very rare from what I’ve been told.)

    Yes, it is rarer than steak tartar.

    • #26
    • December 7, 2019, at 9:52 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    At one point (actually more than one point) I took the opportunity to complain about having to be in a jury waiting room with a television turned on.

    Ugh! I’m glad they didn’t have that yesterday. Cruel and unusual punishment.

    • #27
    • December 7, 2019, at 9:58 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):
    I took Killshot by Elmore Leonard. It was okay.

    I think taking crime novels are the best thing to have for jury duty. Reading 5 Star, there was a point where the protagonist was thinking about jury selection, and I had to restrain myself from reading it aloud for everyone.

    The most notable thing about the waiting room was the large percentage of people who did not bring something to read.

    In the jury assembly room where I was yesterday, they had a big double bookcase filled with books. Courtesy of the Friends of the Library, they were available to take with in case you started to read them and got interested.

    As we were coming in, I was cracking wise with some of the guys coming in at the same time. I asked the businessman I sat with, “Did you bring the cards?” He said no, but one of the other guys said, “I did. Also brought a book and…” I don’t remember what else, but he was prepared.

    • #28
    • December 7, 2019, at 10:10 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    At one point (actually more than one point) I took the opportunity to complain about having to be in a jury waiting room with a television turned on.

    Ugh! I’m glad they didn’t have that yesterday. Cruel and unusual punishment.

    That’s why God gave us noise-cancelling headphones.

    • #29
    • December 7, 2019, at 10:11 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  30. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    The judge then asked the entire panel how many had ever been sued. The entire panel, made up of building contractors and doctors, among others, raised our hands.

    Yeah, those things happen. That would have been something to see.

    • #30
    • December 7, 2019, at 10:14 AM PST
    • 2 likes