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Jury duty?(4 posts)

Jury duty?torquer
Mar 10, 2003 7:51 AM
My wife reported for jury duty this morning, something she has been called for at least twice in the past (excused once, served once/civil case settled as jury was about to start deliberations).

For some mysterious reason, I have never been called. I'm a registered voter, licensed driver, home owner, not a convicted felon.

So, two questions:

1. Are there some possible disqualifications (and should I be worried about them), or is this just a typical bureaucratic slip-up?

2. I have mixed feelings about "volunteering" for service; its a contribution to civic life, sure, and it wouldn't be a terrible burden as far as my work schedule goes, but I've heard plenty of horror stories about interminable waiting, lack of respect from court personnel, judges overturning verdicts etc. (In my wife's last case, she found both parties to the suit loathsome, and would have sent them both to the chair had that been an option; the judge paged through catalogs during some of the lawyer's droning presentations.)

So, what's been the experience of board members?
randomDougSloan
Mar 10, 2003 8:22 AM
There are some automatic disqualifiers, but they vary by state or county. In Missouri, lawyers and doctors are disqualified, and are never called. Not so in California. I think you must be a U.S. citizen anywhere.

Other than that, it is random, with a potential list drawn from license, voter registration, property owner, lists. Some areas use one, some use a combination. It's random, so you could be called every year, or maybe never. Here, I've been called twice in 5 years; I showed up, but was not called to a courtroom. My wife has never been called.

I think unless there is some very unusual burden, you should serve if called. If you are a sole proprietor, single parent with no one to watch the kids, or have a medical condition, those sorts of things. Otherwise, if people are unwilling to serve, we get the "least common denominator" sort of jury. Ask yourself whether you would want only the people "too stupid to get out of jury service" on your jury?

Some judges are better at moving things along than others. I've tried some jury cases in one day that other judges would drag out for three or four, some in a week that others would take six weeks. Just depends on the judge, and to some extent the lawyers involved. Remember Judge Ito, and his interminable tolerance of extended legal arguments on every little dispute? Most judges would not tolerate that, and the O.J. trial would have been about six weeks.

Remember also that juries have the final say as to what the law effectively means, in that they can reject silly claims, or award huge verdicts to some. They have very wide discretion, even more than the judges. Don't ever go blaming the "legal system" generally for things you don't like, if you are not willing to participate in it. Think of it as the chance to shape the law a bit.

Doug
I just served on a murder casehycobob
Mar 11, 2003 4:43 AM
that was completed in 5 days. After hearing everything we could about how this girl was simply protecting herself, we gave her 40 years. How can these people expect us to believe that a girl can stab her ex-boyfreind (while moving out) in the neck while he tried to wake her up? OOPS! Oh, her startled me... Yeah, I always sleep deeply with a steak knife hidden under my folded arms...never mind that I was on the phone 5-10 minutes earlier.
called 3x within a 2 year periodColnagoFE
Mar 11, 2003 7:12 AM
First time didn't have to show up. Second time, had to show up, but wasn't picked (it was a case about a mother and daughter quarreling over lottery winnings and i told the lawyer who was questioning me that i would just let the mother have the winnings instead of dragging this into court--i was summarily dismissed). Third time...didn't have to show up again. Haven't been called since.