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Monday, January 16, 2017

Juror #3

Juror #3
I was called for jury duty last week.  I’m not fond of jury duty, but it is one of those things that needs to be done.   I’ve been called now six times.  I’ve served three times; two times I was not needed and did not have to report.  In our county, you call the night before to find if you have to report.  
When I called this week, I was hoping to beat the cut.  I did not and had to report Monday at 8am, definitely out of my comfort zone.
I showed up on time and took my seat to wait.  I know it is my civic duty, but I was hoping to not be called, if you are not called on day one, you can go home and you are done for at least three years.
There were probably three hundred people in the room thinking just as I was.  The first panel of about 35 people were called.  I dodged that bullet.  At around 11:00 the next panel was called and my number was one of the first.
Damn!
It was a civil trial, only eight from the panel would be chosen.  The process would take most of the day, and if I was not chosen I would be home free.  The judge asked if anyone had issues on six questions she posed relating to ability to serve.  Many hands went up. 
One by one she and the lawyers quizzed the prospective jurors (pj’s).  More often than not the judge said, “Ok, you’re excused.” One PJ was claustrophobic and could not even walk through the hallway to make it to the jury room…I’d have thrown a flag on that excuse.
At one point a pj sneezed and reflexively said, “Excuse me.”  The judge reflexively responded, “You’re excused.”  Soon everyone sneezed and said, “Excuse me!”
OK, that never happened, but it was a skit that played in my head and caused me to laugh out loud…I received several strange glances.
Even worse, I had just watched “My Cousin Vinnie” a very funny court related movie and a Cranky house favorite.  Every time the judge said, “voir dire I cracked up.  If you saw the movie you’d know why.
The pool was soon down to 22 pj’s
We had a lunch break and in the afternoon the process continued.  The judge was pretty lenient.  If you wanted out it would have been very easy to just say, “Yes judge, I think most litigants are just slip and fall fakers.” And you would be excused.
I did not answer any questions that way and the result is Cranky took seat number three in the jury box.
It should be interesting. 
I must say the eight jurors ultimately picked are an eclectic group representing many diverse talents and cultures.  We had several members from India, a Muslim, a man born and schooled in Italy, a mechanic, an electrical engineer, a teacher, a college student, a linesman, a college professor, a chef and a cranky old man.
Tomorrow: The Trial

28 comments:

  1. Funny you being Juror #3. The one and only trial I ever served on back in 2013, I was juror #3. I had always tried to find out ways to get out of jury duty and could when the kids were young, citing I had no one to watch them, etc., and then working as an independent contractor, I cited financial hardship, but the company I work for now gives up to 10 days of jury time paid, so when I got that summons in 2013, I hoped I would be the call in and not have to report type of gal (similar to your system). But lo and behold, I did have to report. One time the year prior, I reported, but never got called by noon and got excused for the rest of my jury time. My employer paid for me to read a book while I waited it out.

    In 2013, my name as actually called to go into a courtroom. I was kind of excited because I did want to serve on a jury. When I heard what the charge was "felony murder" I definitely wanted to be on the jury. Felony murder, California style, was when the defendant didn't actually kill the person, but was involved in the events that led up to the person being killed. In this case, a drug buy that went wrong. The defendant was there with the person that shot the victim, so he was charged with felony murder.

    The jury listened to 2 days of testimony and based on what I had heard so far, the guy was guilty as defined by the definition of felony murder. The third day we showed up on time but didn't get into the courtroom for 2 hours. When we were finally invited in, the judge said the case had been settled and we were dismissed. We came to find that the defendant "copped a deal." He was afraid the jury would come back guilty and he could get a lifetime sentence. No one wants a lifetime sentence. He pled to a lesser charger and got 17 years. He was 18 at the time of the crime.

    What impressed me most was afterwards when we were released and could talk about the case, some of us stuck around and were able to talk to the defendant's lawyer. We also got to see the victim's family who were there every day in the courtroom, crying at times during the testimony. They thanked us for serving. With tears and hugs, we all were impacted when we realized their loss.

    And it was with that, that I decided serving on a jury was something I would do again in a heartbeat, no matter the inconvenience.

    I await to hear more of your story.

    betty

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  2. It can be interesting being on the a jury. It's something you won't forget. The last time I served, I ended up on a gruesome murder trial line up. The newspaper had so much information, there was no way I could say yes to the lawyer when he asked if I could give an impartial opinion. I was excused, thank heavens, the guy was guilty as bleep. At least I didn't have to look at any pictures of dead people as I did when I served on the Grand Jury. EW!
    I sure hope you come away with a good experience.

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  3. I'm 47 years old and have never been to jury duty. Every time I get the notice in the mail, I fill out the card and claim that I have "childcare conflicts" which has always been 100% true (10 kids here, remember) Now that my youngest is three years old, I think my time to be a juror is finally approaching. Once he's in school full time, well...I can be free during the day to sit on a jury. I'm actually looking forward to it. I wonder if I'll be picked?? I think I'd make a great juror. Of course, if the trial is anything about child abuse or anything to do with harming a child...I probably won't be picked.

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  4. I hope to never be picked for jury duty. When faced with differing testimonies from many people, I'm so wishy-washy with decisions, I couldn't possibly decide between guilty or not guilty.

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  5. It is really a very new but interesting thing to know .
    i absolutely love the way you share your stories .
    smiles were getting deeper and deeper while reading this but i laughed aloud when judge said you are excused on sneezing !
    getting out from bed at 8 am and sitting among so many people who were thinking as you ,though you were chosen and i believe it is honor !
    enjoy your status Joe .
    take care !

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  6. I guess as I write you are safely tucked into your juror's seat. I never made it to jury duty on the grounds that I worked for police and probation and therefore knew details of the criminals who passed through. Thereafter I was wiped from the slate and I can't say I am sorry.

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  7. It would be fine to sit on a jury if i didn't have to work. Being that mine is the only real income in the house now, having to serve means no money coming in. If i ever get to retire, that might be a great time.

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  8. I served for 8 days in a civil case years ago.. VERY interesting group of jurors.. Actually enjoyed the experience.

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  9. I've been summoned 8 times, which even your 6 is incredible, considering most I know have never received jury duty summons. Only have served as an alternate on a drunk driving case.

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  10. Go get 'em Joe!

    (Hope you find your experience as interesting as I found mine last year.)

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  11. Every jury should have at least one cranky old man (or woman) on it.

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  12. I've been called three times. The first I had a newborn, and was excused. The second I had grandchildren to get on the bus, and was excused. The last, I've become too infirm to walk across the street and up the courthouse steps. Thanks for doing the job.

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  13. I've never been called for jury duty even though I'm a registered voter. Mra. C. was called but dismissed when asked if she had any friends in the local police department. She answered, "Around 200 hundred."

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  14. It's your duty as a blogger to serve. Just think of the material the experience will produce.

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  15. I've been in the witness stand often. Always getting a subpoena to testify about one thing or another. I get summons for jury duty, but they don't want me and they never seem to call me for a civil matter. Criminal defense attorney's don't want me on their juries.

    Have a fabulous day Joe. ☺

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  16. Never been called for jury duty, but expect it would be very interesting. Looking forward very much to hearing all about it!

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  17. I think I've been summoned 8 or 10 times. Six times, I actually made it into the courtroom. Four times, I ended up on the jury, and twice, I was elected foreman (I blogged about those experiences here. . .)

    As I look back on my jury experiences, my thoughts are generally sadness and EXTREME frustration (you'll have to read my old blog posts for more of an explanation). Those post-trial meetings with the judge/prosecutor, where they tell you what they couldn't tell you in court, drive me right around the bend. . .

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  18. I've actually served on 2 different juries; interesting times!! Something good can come out of it: Twenty plus years ago I was called for jury duty. While there I slipped on the marble courthouse floor & broke my left thumb. It was in a splint & I couldn’t put on a necklace or button my right cuff. Bud left for work before I got up, so I asked another prospective juror to help me. I would hold out my right arm & say, “Please dress me, Mommy.” She did, & we clicked. We became best friends--& still are.

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  19. So laughing out loud for no apparent reason didn't get you excused? I can't wait to hear your take on the process once you are able to talk about it.
    I served on one and found it interesting. We had an outstanding foreman. Maybe juror # 3 will take up that job? Enjoy.

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  20. I agree, reporting for jury duty is a pain, as is the waiting. But if you can get on an interesting case, it isn't too bad. I've been released about 2 or 3 times, but picked twice. One was a murder case, and I must have had my "sucker" face on, 'cause my fellow jurors elected me foreman. About the only perk to the job was deciding when we went to lunch. But JD is one of those things that we have to do for our justice system to work. Looking forward to Part 2.

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  21. I got picked for jury duty in May of 2005. My husband was quite ill by then but nevertheless, I showed up to at least plead my case as to why I couldn't serve. I kept waiting for the question to be asked but the next thing I knew I was sitting with 11 jurors and staring at a guy facing a murder charge. Eeek. When I went home I called and explained that I would be happy to serve but I was unable to leave my husband alone for any length of time. I was excused but couldn't believe my luck to get picked for a murder trial.

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  22. I've gotten a few notices over the years, but I always returned the card saying I couldn't serve on a jury since I am not a citizen.

    My husband got called a few times, but the cases always settled beforehand. I'm looking forward to your story!

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  23. I've been in the J pool many times but never had to swim to court since the trials were cancelled. I was on jury duty from October to December last year but again the two times I was called were cancelled. Hopefully I'll be out of the calling for a few more years! I love the skit in your head. In fact, I might suggest it for a Boy Scout skit next time we have a meeting! Can't wait to hear about the trial!

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  24. Make friends with that chef, Joe, maybe he'll invite you for dinner after this is all over.

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  25. Looking forward to hearing about your case. I've spent 2 six-month stints on jury duty. Got picked for one trial concerning eminent domain and the price the state of Missouri paid a guy for his land in order to put a road through it.

    The case wasn't that interesting, but the (paid) witnesses and opposing attorneys' styles were.

    The last time I was called, I was excused because I said I couldn't be impartial. It concerned child sexual abuse, and the child was going to testify. After being a teacher for 28 years, there's no way I could be impartial.

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  26. Can't wait to read about this... I've been called once but didn't get picked.

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  27. 3 years? In California, it's once a year.

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  28. I've only been called twice and reached the questioning phase just once. Missed serving by one seat, the last alternate was right next to me. It would have been a fun trial, really sorry I missed it as it was a premeditated murder case that went South due to a corruptish but unchecked defense lawyer. The jury didn't see through his razzle dazzle.

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