Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Jury duty fun

Sat, August 4, 2007 - I had jury duty at the county courthouse last week. I didn't want to get stuck on a long case, so I was whining a little bit about going, but having gone I'm pretty glad I did. Sure, it's democracy in action but the only trial (which was a good thing it was quiet in the courts), was this case of a guy not showing up for a court date. I couldn't believe "failure to appear" was a crime and then he also got to have a jury trial for it! I kept thinking, you've got his [posterior] here now, fine him and let us all go back to work!

They called 47 people in for jury duty, kept 28 of them for selection (I got in this group), and chose 12 of them for a jury all so this guy could weasel out of why he missed his last court date. please! I'm all for due process but that was just dumb (says she, until it happens to one of us I guess). I came close to telling the prosecutor the above tirade but refrained. :-) I'm not sure the judge would have appreciated my rant and since it wasn't completely relevant...

The jury selection process was fascinating. I was worried they were going to ask all sorts of personal questions (like religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation) but the lawyers were more concerned about making sure we could be as fair as possible in our considerations based on our various histories. They kept all 28 of us prospective jurors in the courtroom and the defender lawyer got half hour to ask everyone questions then the prosecuting lawyer got a half hour to do the same. The court staff sets up a random order list and they take the next person in order for the jury as they excuse folks for various reasons. At that point I was juror 27 so even with "peremptory challenges" (excusing the folks they think will be biased or that they just don't like for whatever reason) they chose 12 people. I still think it was a waste of everyone's time, but as I said it was fascinating to be a participant.

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