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Thread: Jury Duty

  1. #1
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    Jury Duty

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    So my time on the jury is over. I have to say, it turned out to be really interesting. And it made me feel good about our judicial system. At times I would think, "wow, we're arguing over the same little detail over and over for three days . . . seriously!?!?!?!" But then, if I had been arrested for something, I sure as heck would want my day in court! I may be rambling a bit here on this thread, but I feel a need to digest all the information I took in, especially since I wasn't part of deliberations.

    I was dismissed from the jury right before closing arguments. I was randomly drawn to be excused (they have one extra juror in case of an emergency). That was a big let-down. After sitting through all of that and being bound to silence, I really wanted a chance to discuss the case with the other jurors and let my thoughts be known.

    BTW: One of the jurors is the wife of the Police Chief in our city. Knowing a police officer did not give anyone an automatic pass. And this was a criminal case.

    Even though the case we listened to was Resisting and Obstructing, I could tell right away that this was a "high-profile" case. For one thing, the defendant's lawyer was really, really, good. I felt like I was watching the "Lincoln Lawyer" at work.

    Secondly, they didn't have just two officers that were arresting him on a warrant. But 2 detectives, 2 state police troopers, AND some federal agents!

    I happened to be sitting on the end closest to the witness box. I was very close to the witnesses. One of the witnesses claimed to not know the defendant or his business. This was really odd to me as the witness had a very large tattoo on his forearm with imagery that very closely identified with the name of the business . . .

    Then, when the defendant got up to testify, I noticed he had the exact same tattoo in the very same location (same size, coloring, everything). I kept wondering if the other jurors had noticed that too!

    After they excused me from the jury, I was free to google and talk about anything I wanted to. I did some googling, and sure 'nuff, the defendant was responsible for a drive-by shooting. The lawyer also had quite a reputation--as I suspected.

    As I said, it was really interesting. I'm glad I got to be on a jury afterall. And if I ever see that tattoo again, I'll be sure to run in the other direction!
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  2. #2
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    Wow - interesting report, Limewave. I can't believe the defense counsel didn't get those tattoos covered better. I wonder if they even noticed.

    Thanks for taking it all so seriously. It's great to see jurors who really get into it and care about the outcome. Sorry you were an alternate and didn't get to deliberate.
    Sarah

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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reports, this is a Michigan case so now that your duty is completed can you post any link to the news story about this case or the crime that caused it?
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  4. #4
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    Jury duty is definitely an experience. When I did mine the defendant was convicted, and his brothers mouthed abuse at every single juror as we left. The entire jury ended up being locked in a room whilst court officials checked that the brothers had left the site. I'm really hoping not to be called again for a while as sorting childcare would be a nightmare.

    We had one day when the defendant didn't turn up (his mum phoned to say that he'd had an allergic reaction to a skin cream) so we all got sent home again. It's a good thing to do, I think, but it can be hugely inconvenient. Which I know is nothing compared to the importance of Justice, but I think most jurors end up relying on goodwill from someone, be that employers or childcare providers.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hebe View Post
    We had one day when the defendant didn't turn up (his mum phoned to say that he'd had an allergic reaction to a skin cream) so we all got sent home again. It's a good thing to do, I think, but it can be hugely inconvenient. Which I know is nothing compared to the importance of Justice, but I think most jurors end up relying on goodwill from someone, be that employers or childcare providers.
    There was a lot of waiting around. Fortunately the Judge was really good about giving us breaks. Our defendant was already in prison on another charge, we didn't need to worry about him not showing up.

    Here is one article. And here is one about the defendant's lawyer I found interesting.
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  6. #6
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    I'm so glad you had a positive experience serving as a juror and that you shared that with us. Most people are hesitant to serve on a jury but I would encourage everyone who gets summoned for jury duty to serve.
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  7. #7
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    So now the major inconvenience is playing in. I outsourced some work because Jury duty was butting right up to a week of vacation. And now the out-sourced work is going not as planned and turning into a huge disaster. Now we are having to delay vacation. Seems like every time we plan a get-a-away some disaster strikes
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  8. #8
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    oh no! I hope you don't have to wait too much longer for your break.

    We get very little choice here about jury service. If you're summonsed you prettty much have to do it. If your deferment is accepted you get absolutely no choice the second time you're called. I guess that in the US policy is decided per state?
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  9. #9
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    In my state, it varies by County. The Clerk of Court can excuse you, etc. Some have different policies.
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  10. #10
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    Several years ago I was detailed to be one of the members of the panel that heard all general courts martial for the area served by Mannheim, Germany. I wound up going over there around twice a month for a wide variety of cases. The detail lasted a year and a half, so I got a lot of experience in "jury duty". We heard a lot of drug cases, rape, two murder trails, etc. One that I fondly remember was the trial of one soldier on assault and battery charges for beating up another soldier in the barracks at Baumholder Training Area. It was a pretty open-and-shut case, until they brought out the last witness... the victim. After meeting him, we went back into the jury room and came out about an hour later with an acquittal. Some folks just get what they had coming to them ;-)

    Courts martial are different from jury trials, in that we as panelists had the opportunity to ask questions not posed by any of the attorneys, by writing them down on a form and submitting them to the judge, who would then ask the question from the bench. And there are no hung juries, we went back after hearing all testimony and got one vote on each charge... it took 2/3rds of the panel voting "guilty" in order to convict, any vote less than 2/3rds was an acquittal unless we were able to consider a lesser charge for the same offense.

    It did cure me of wanting to sit on any more juries; a standard answer in voir dire now is that "I'm not sitting here this long in order to turn some rascal loose."

  11. #11
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    Interesting stories!

    I sat on a jury in 1995, a first degree assault with a deadly weapon case. It was fascinating. We had a judge who was so biased against the defense that we discussed it in the jury room. We did convict this person. He spent the next 13 years in prison, and then came out and killed someone.

    One thing I learned is how important it is for us to serve. I agree that it's a pain. But you really don't want all of our juries to consist of sweet little old ladies who watch daytime TV and discuss whether or not the defendant's mom raised him good. I mean it. We had about a half dozen ladies like this on the jury, and it was worrisome. Serving makes you understandable how important it is to try and make decisions according to law, and that it protects us all. So, within the bounds of what you can manage, please consider serving sometimes, to ensure that there are active, smart, engaged people on juries. Glad you did, Limewave.

    Sorry. I don't usually make speeches like this.
    Last edited by salsabike; 07-01-2011 at 09:10 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Every time I get summoned I've asked to defer it until I'm on break. Lesson plans are a PITA, especially when you don't know how long you'll be out. And then there don't seem to be any cases during my vacations.

    Other teachers think I'm weird 'cause I'd rather do it when I'm on vacation.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
    Every time I get summoned I've asked to defer it until I'm on break. Lesson plans are a PITA, especially when you don't know how long you'll be out. And then there don't seem to be any cases during my vacations.

    Other teachers think I'm weird 'cause I'd rather do it when I'm on vacation.

    Veronica
    No, I've done that too--defer till summer. Ugh. Why would I want to do it during the school year?? It just means my work piles up, with the same deadlines to meet but much less time. Blech!
    "My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved;I have been given much and I have given something in return...Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and an adventure." O. Sacks

  14. #14
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    I've been deferred all 3 times I was summoned. First 2 times I was a full-time college student and sitting jury could have meant failing classes. Last time I was called I was at home caring for my infant son full-time.

    Now that I have no responsibilities I probably won't get called, again.
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