Sunday, July 13, 2008

Life: Jury Dutying No More

The wrap-up...

I arrived at the Beverly Hills courthouse at 10:30am last Friday. We sat around until 11am. The jurors were called into the court room and proceeded to go through the final 12 jury selection procedures. Just when I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel it was announced that two alternate jurors were still needed...Just-In-Case.  In case you aren't aware, as an alternate you must come to court and observe the (anticipated 5 day) trial but chances are you will never set foot in the deliberation room. Only thing worse than being picked to serve on a jury is being chosen as an alternate. Yawn City...

The judge's assistant rattles off 6 more juror numbers and mine was the last to be called. I'm now identified as Juror number 17. We must state where we live, occupation, marital status, etc. Then we're asked some general questions with regards to the case and our ability to remain impartial. That's when I spoke up. 

We were advised yesterday that a few of the witnesses to be called by the Prosecution were going to be police officers. A knot instantly formed in my stomach and I quickly became a bit more sympathetic towards the defendant. It's, indeed, a little known fact that due to MULTIPLE negative life experiences with police officers (essentially abusing their power) starting as early as age 13 right up until last year I have a GREAT mistrust for the Popo. It was strange admitting such a personal point of view in front of an open forum of COMPLETE STRANGERS but it was the truth. There is no way that I, in good conscience, would have been able to impartially listened to the testimony of a bunch of officers. Just no way!

The judge was good and had a way about him that he was able to get people to verbally commit to doing their best to be impartial despite life experiences...but I held my ground.  The judge then took a few minutes to explain to the rest of the jury members how he understood that we all come in with different 'life experiences' that make us who we are today...which is exactly why the line of questioning we're put through is so important. 

Towards the end of the alternate selection process the judge asked the jurors, hypothetically, if we were the defendant would we want 12 people with the same frame of mind as we're in right now to be in the jury box. Everyone was quiet but going back to the point I'd already stated I said that I'd be 'potentially thrilled' as the defendant to have 12 of me deliberating over the case. The judge then asked me if the prosecution would be equally as thrilled to have 12 of me deliberating the case and I responded, point blank..."No-so-much".

Shortly thereafter Counsel approached the bench and came back to make their final alternate selections. No surprise the prosecution gave Juror number 17 (Moi) the boot, first thing. I left the court room and went down to the Jury room for my exit papers. Whew! The rest of the released jurors were soon to follow. A woman approached me and said that she nearly started laughing when, with a completely straight face, I made the "potentially thrilled" comment to the judge. Trust me when I say that at the time I was in no joking mood.  

So with that said, I'm done done done....well at least for the next twelve months.

And in case anyone is wondering...we were told that the court gets your info through the DMV and voter registration.  This explains perfectly why I received my summons with DAYS of submitting a change of address form to the DMV.

A couple of additional notes...

Taking a color printing class at SMC is NOT a valid excuse for jury duty dismissal.  (Yes, PW, someone actually tried this tactic.  I almost doubled over in laughter.)
Heavy accents or the inability to effectively communicate were a one way ticket out of the court room.
Lawyers were given the boot.
And while many of you suggested that I wear a tee shirt exclaiming "guilty" across the front, my favorite Expert Witness suggested otherwise.  He's had first hand experience with a fella who did just that.  The judge released him for the day but make him return the next morning dressed in more appropriate attire.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Nice work. I must admit, I've used my children as the excuse for getting out of showing up for jury duty. Of course I bemoaned the fact that I hadn't a friend in the world who would help watch them. While that's not completely true, it would have been very hard to arrange everything, especially if I'd been picked. It might have been impossible for a very long trial.

    Enjoy your next 12 months of freedom!


Share a thought...account not required!

*NOTE: Due to SPAM abuse I'm now moderating comments.