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?

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  1. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Arahant (View Comment):
    The most notable thing about the waiting room was the large percentage of people who did not bring something to read.

    I’ve been on airplanes where I’ve seen people just sitting and staring into space for the entire length of the flight.  I don’t get it.

    Way, way, way, *way* back in the early 90s when I was still listening to Rush Limbaugh, I remember him telling a story about being on a plane reading a book and a woman asked him  “Why are you reading”?  Not *what* are you reading – *why*.

     

     

    • #31
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu (View Comment):
    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.

    Hmmn, wouldn’t be safe to do around here.

    • #32
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Qoumidan (View Comment):
    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.

    Yep on both points.

    • #33
  4. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Arahant (View Comment):

    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.

    Some time ago, perhaps more recently than the last time I was called in, I filled out a survey questionnaire where I was asked such questions.  Hmmm. Maybe that’s why I haven’t received a call to jury duty lately, though I can’t think of what answer I gave that would have scared them off.  That survey form may be where I last took advantage of the opportunity to complain about the televisions, though.  

    • #34
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu (View Comment):
    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.

    Hmmn, wouldn’t be safe to do around here.

    Would have been safe around here in the fall of 1996.  I had to serve so much that year that it was causing my employer to grumble. There were too many people who just weren’t responding or showing up.  There was a news article about it, and I think at one point they were sending police out to round up the people who had been summoned and hadn’t shown up. I’m not sure how much of that they actually did, but how would you like your case to be decided by a bunch of people who were hauled to the courthouse by police, against their will. I suppose it could work to your advantage, depending. 

    • #35
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    There was a news article about it, and I think at one point they were sending police out to round up the people who had been summoned and hadn’t shown up.

    How it should be. It says right in the instructions, “Failure to appear for jury selection may result in a Showcase Hearing or Bench Warrant.”

    • #36
  7. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I have only been called once. A jury was being chosen for a BIG murder trial. I ran into a friend, we spent the morning catching up, then walked up to the cathedral for noon mass. 

    I was never called – had I been, there was no way I was going to be chosen as I was friends with someone who had previously defended the defendant. 

    I worked for that same friend last year as she defended a guy against an attempted murder charge. 

    I was touched by the jurors who were willing to serve on what was going to be at least a one-month trial – some of them committing to a one-hour plus commute. 

    I was left cynical by the process used by the defense lawyers of choosing the jury. Actually, the entire process and the behavior of the prosecution, defense, investigators and judge has not inspired any faith in the justice system .

    Details best told in person over drinks. 

    • #37
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Annefy (View Comment):
    I was left cynical by the process used by the defense lawyers of choosing the jury. Actually, the entire process and the behavior of the prosecution, defense, investigators and judge has not inspired any faith in the justice system.

    Yeah, best not to watch the sausage being made.

    • #38
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    And for your reading pleasure:

    http://ricochet.com/703512/book-review-5-star-by-michael-henry/

    • #39
  10. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Arahant (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    There was a news article about it, and I think at one point they were sending police out to round up the people who had been summoned and hadn’t shown up.

    How it should be. It says right in the instructions, “Failure to appear for jury selection may result in a Showcase Hearing or Bench Warrant.”

    I’ve lost count, I’ve been summoned at least 4 times, maybe more.  Once was during a time I had already booked overseas travel, so I dutifully filled in and returned the form requesting a postponement.  Heard nothing back until months later when I received a notice in the mail claiming I’d failed to appear on the original date!  I never followed up so I guess that’s still on my record somewhere.

    I figure in the karmic balance it’s offset by the fact that I appeared the other times, and did actually serve on a jury once.

    • #40
  11. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    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.

    Perhaps you’re trying too hard, you don’t want to come across as desperate.  Next time, try playing hard-to-get…

    • #41
  12. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    I have been on two jury ‘pools’.  The first was in Fairfax county (northern VA) and was when I was self employed and not working cost real money.  They had a system like “You are a Tuesday Juror for the next month”.  I actually got called for three trials during that period.   

    The first and probably the biggest was for a murder by one prisoner of another in the local jail.  The weapon was a “shiv” made from a bedspring and the argument was over stolen toiletries.  The main take-away was whatever you do, don’t go to prison.  I don’t remember all the details, but I remember being in the deliberation room with the box of evidence – including the shiv – when we were told that there had been a plea agreement.

    The second was a woman who had been in an accident and received whiplash.  I think she was suing the Doctor who tried to help her.  The two things I remember was she seemed to resent that the Dr. spent very little time touching her compared to the Chiropractor she also went to.  The other thing was how easily she demonstrated the motion of her head that she said she couldn’t do!  I think that was also settled.

    The third was a drug case.  There had been a car accident with several young men in one of cars and when the police were investigating, one of the guys had drugs in his jacket pocket.  The jury in that case seemed like the ideal sort of combination.  One of the jurors was an emergency room nurse with a lot of experience with the effects of that drug (which I don’t remember).  

    The defense lawyer took the approach of attacking the state forensic scientist who did the analysis of the drugs.  “Doesn’t your test just show which different chemicals and atoms are present?”  “Couldn’t those atoms be rearranged a different way to be a different chemical?”…. we felt he should have been charged.

    I think a better path would have been to claim that in the confusion of the accident, someone else put the drugs in his pocket.

    The deliberations were in two parts – guilt/innocence and punishment.  For guilt/innocence, we were not allowed to know of any prior history.  That made sense to me, but once we found him guilty, we also couldn’t know his history.  We had our suspicions and were told that the judge could reduce, but not increase the punishment, so we gave him the highest we could and stipulated that it be time, not a fine.  It was clear that it would be his parents that would pay the fine, but we figured he would serve the time.

    <continued>

    • #42
  13. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    The second pool I was on was in Loudoun County, also in Northern Va, but more rural.  The deal here is for a one trial obligation.  The trial I was called in for was really sort of funny.  A policeman had issued a ticket to a young man for failing to dim his lights to oncoming traffic.

    The incident happened in the town where we go shopping, so we knew the place very well.  The kid probably would have gotten away with a warning, but as Ron White says in one of his routines “I had the right to remain silent, but not the ability”

    Anyway, he protested the ticket and demanded a jury trial.  I was amazed that you could do that.  He also decided to defend himself!  He had some concocted theory that the police officer had been trailing him, cut through a shopping center so he could be coming towards him to charge he had high beams on.

    I think 3-4 prospective jurors were excused, but I think one of our jurors was actually a police officer.

    It took about 20 minutes to find him guilty.  

    The funny thing was that he had to pay court costs – including the stipend the jurors get – even the ones excused!

    That trial was last year and all electronic equipment like cell phones had to be put in lockers.

    In Fairfax county, years ago, I had one of the early tablets and spent all the time waiting to be called to a voir dire learning a new programming language with it.

    • #43
  14. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    I’m not sure how many times I’ve been on ‘call in’ and never called, but I ended up at the courthouse three times, all in California.  One time I ended up sitting almost the entire day, got put into a pool and then we were informed the parties had settled (apparently a civil complaint).  At least at that point laptops had not been declared machina non grata, so I got a lot of work related reading and writing done, and having gotten into the pool counted as serving, so off the list for 24 months, huzzah!  The second time I ended up in voir dire, on what as apparently a product liability case.  Never found out about what, but on finding out I was a manager at a high tech company, I was dismissed pretty much instantly.  I only served once, on a DUI trial.  There were two charges, one the usual DUI and the other being above the legal limit, as shown by a breathalyzer.  The defendant was obviously a habitual drunk, and hadn’t shown any signs of intoxication in his driving, but had tested well over the limit.  I wasn’t the foreman, but was the one who proposed the final verdict, which was innocent on the DUI, and guilty on exceeding the limit.  Which accomplished the sense of the jury, which was to lift his license but without jail time.  (I can’t recall at this remove how we knew the likely sentencing outcome, but we did.)

    My wife at one point got stuck on a three week long damages trial, involving someone’s hand and an industrial press, which sounded not only long but gruesome.  Can’t recall how that came out.

    • #44
  15. Joe Boyle Member
    Joe Boyle
    @JoeBoyle

    Reading about jury duty is almost as boring as being summoned for jury duty. Been summoned four times and served on several juries.

    • #45
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    The defense lawyer took the approach of attacking the state forensic scientist who did the analysis of the drugs. “Doesn’t your test just show which different chemicals and atoms are present?” “Couldn’t those atoms be rearranged a different way to be a different chemical?”…. we felt he should have been charged.

    Heh, heh. Yeah. I get the feeling a lot of lawyers should be.

    • #46
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    That trial was last year and all electronic equipment like cell phones had to be put in lockers.

    My local court has no lockers, but they say that right in the instructions, along with saying what isn’t allowed.

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    In Fairfax county, years ago, I had one of the early tablets and spent all the time waiting to be called to a voir dire learning a new programming language with it.

    I’m pretty sure that I had a laptop with me at a previous one, but they have tightened up the rules.

    • #47
  18. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Locke On (View Comment):
    At least at that point laptops had not been declared machina non grata,

    Nice turn of phrase. I like that.

    • #48
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Locke On (View Comment):
    so off the list for 24 months, huzzah!

    I’m only off for twelve. 🙄🤔

    • #49
  20. MichaelKennedy Inactive
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Actually, the entire process and the behavior of the prosecution, defense, investigators and judge has not inspired any faith in the justice system .

    Details best told in person over drinks. 

    In one trauma case where I was a percipient witness, I was asked to lie by the prosecutors.  It was a case in which a drunk and drugged driver hit and killed a sheriff deputy’s son on his bicycle. The police told me the imprint of the boy’s corduroy pants was into the paint on the fender. The driver crashed a mile or so beyond the  crime scene. When the female CHP officer approached his car, she asked for his driver’s license. He swallowed it.  He had injured his arm on the gear shift lever in the crash. He arrived in the ER shortly after I had pronounced the boy dead.  He was obviously drunk but a lab tech from the police ordered us not to do our routine blood alcohol test as it was not admissible.  She was quite arrogant about it.  I later learned she had screwed it up somehow and the result was below the legal limit.  He had cocaine metabolites in his blood  but that is NOT admissible.

    At trial, he was dressed and groomed ,like stock broker. I was accused of torturing him by sewing up his arm without anesthetic, which was nonsense.  Then I was asked if he was intoxicated, which he was. When we put an NG tube down his throat he vomited up his drivers’ license.  Not sober behavior.

    The deputy DAs, both of whom were ex-cops and very street wise, told me that I could not mention the cocaine as these metabolites can be present a  month after use and did not prove intoxication. Of course the defense lawyer spent most of his cross examination trying to get me to admit the cocaine metabolites were present.  I managed to avoid saying so but was quite annoyed with the judge who knew what was going  on, but let the thing drag on.  I did not lie but was annoyed to be asked to do so.

    • #50
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Locke On (View Comment):
    The defendant was obviously a habitual drunk, and hadn’t shown any signs of intoxication in his driving, but had tested well over the limit.

    Reminds me of this guy:

    • #51
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Joe Boyle (View Comment):

    Reading about jury duty is almost as boring as being summoned for jury duty. Been summoned four times and served on several juries.

    Sorry I couldn’t have spiced it up for you, but nobody did a strip tease, or anything.

    • #52
  23. Slow on the uptake Thatcher
    Slow on the uptake
    @Chuckles

    72, been called four times.  Once I was out of the country and didn’t even know about it until too late.

    Once I sat around in downtown Houston half a day waiting but never got out of the waiting room.

    Once I was sent to be considered for a civil case but when I told them I could not support significant punitive damages in a civil case, after discussing it with the judge they let me go.

    Once I was assigned to the jury in a personal injury case.  One thing has stuck with me to this day:  One of the jurors said when we were discussing the amount to award, “I don’t know, but they have lots of money and she doesn’t have anything:  So we should give her whatever her lawyer suggests.”

    • #53
  24. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    I got called seven times in ten years. Had to serve the last time I was called. What ticked me off was the number of people who claim not to speak English well enough to serve. Wish I could pull that off, but my German is fifty years out of date and forgotten. And I’m native-born anyway. 

    • #54
  25. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    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.

    Perhaps you’re trying too hard, you don’t want to come across as desperate. Next time, try playing hard-to-get…

    I think this is it.  I was on a jury for a felony murder case, based on an armed robbery.  (I’ve written about that here.)  I gave them every reason I could think of why I shouldn’t be on a jury, trying my very best to get out of it.  I had some legitimate reasons, like being held at gunpoint by both cops and an armed robber, but I think maybe the level of detail I gave must have convinced them they wanted me.

     

    • #55
  26. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    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.

    Perhaps you’re trying too hard, you don’t want to come across as desperate. Next time, try playing hard-to-get…

    I think this is it. I was on a jury for a felony murder case, based on an armed robbery. (I’ve written about that here.) I gave them every reason I could think of why I shouldn’t be on a jury, trying my very best to get out of it. I had some legitimate reasons, like being held at gunpoint by both cops and an armed robber, but I think maybe the level of detail I gave must have convinced them they wanted me.

     

    My case was two black men charged with armed robbery. Only one was involved in the trial where I served. They had specialized in robbing recent Chinese immigrants. We were asked if we had been victims of armed robbery, and I answered that I would have been a victim of two black men if I had not been carrying a .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson. They did not ask if I had shot them, and I thought I’d be bounced. Then, the defendant spoke to his attorney and she went on to the other prospective jurors. I have wondered what he said to her. He spoke to her after I told her that I hadn’t given a damn about their skin color, only whether I could hit center mass. 

    • #56
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Django (View Comment):

    I got called seven times in ten years. Had to serve the last time I was called. What ticked me off was the number of people who claim not to speak English well enough to serve. Wish I could pull that off, but my German is fifty years out of date and forgotten. And I’m native-born anyway.

    Tell them you identify as an illegal alien undocumented worker.

    • #57
  28. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Django (View Comment):
    And I’m native-born anyway. 

    Like that matters in some areas.

    • #58
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Django (View Comment):
    He spoke to her after I told her that I hadn’t given a damn about their skin color, only whether I could hit center mass.

    I like it.

    • #59
  30. MichaelHenry Member
    MichaelHenry
    @MichaelHenry

    Arahant: Sorry you had to go through this trauma. I tried a lot of jury trials when I was an elected D.A. in Louisiana, and it’s my opinion that the jury system guaranteed by the 5th and 6th Amendments may have worked in the rural, agrarian environment that was medieval England where it originated, and in the U.S of many years ago, but it is no longer workable today. Here are a few observations:

    1.  If each defendant insisted on his jury trial, the entire system would grind to a halt. Plea bargains render a half-assed type of justice that is produced when hundreds of trials are scheduled to begin on the same day. However, plea bargains are the only thing that keeps the crowded system afloat.
    2.  No sane person wants to serve on a jury because of the indignities and time-wasting you described accurately.
    3. No matter how thoroughly the prospective jurors are vetted and questioned, both on pre-service questionnaires and during voir dire, there are people chosen to serve who should not be tasked with dispensing justice due to bias, ignorance, or undiagnosed mental illnesses.
    4. In high-profile cases, the likelihood of a just verdict are remote because of publicity and irrational expectations because of jurors being exposed to C.S.I., etc.

    There are many more reasons why the jury system needs dramatic restructuring, but the necessity of amending the Constitution to make the changes render reform almost impossible.

     

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