The Jury’s Out

So, I had jury duty yesterday. That would be my sixth time in 20 years (which means I’ve had it like clockwork just about every three years). Now, that doesn’t include the TWO other times they selected me for jury duty when I didn’t qualify because I’d already done it within the previous three years. Hell, this notice came 2 years, 11 months since my last jury duty – but the date of my actual service was a month later.

It still kills me that my mom has had jury duty just once in her entire life – and that wasn’t until she was in her 70’s.

One advantage to  jury duty in the burbs is that it’s so much smaller. In Boston, the jury pool room was enormous and held hundreds and hundreds of people. Yesterday, the pool room was tiny – accomodating only about 28 people.

On the plus side, I missed being impaneled…but barely. There was going to be a civil trial with 7 jurors (one was an alternate). My juror number was 11. They called the first 7, then began questioning them. One left, then number 8 arrived. Another left, then number 9 arrived. Another left, then number 10 arrived. At this point, my palms started sweating. Then I heard those dreaded words: “Number 11, please report to the jury stand.”

Damn.

But then, based on my jury duty questionnaire, the judge called me up to the bench. You see, on my questionnaire, I mentioned that I didn’t really trust the system after my previous eperience on the jury of a murder trial (which is true). The judge asked me some questions about whether I could be impartial (yes, I suppose I could, I’m just a skeptical person and don’t trust that the witnesses won’t be lying since that’s what happened the last time I was a juror). They thanked me for my time and had me return to the jury stand…

…and then said “Number 11, please return to the jury pool”.

YAY! Since that was the day’s only trial, we were then released.

Still, it does suck. I mean, I’m all for being  judged by your peers. That part of the system is fair. But:

1 – I find it unfair that it seems like it’s always the same people getting called to jury duty over and over, while the majority of people get it once in their life, or never. I heard others in the jury pool room complaining similarly – and only one person (who appeared to be young) said this was her first time. I think the system should be changed from “one day, one trial” to “one day, one trial, one time.”  If you actually serve as a juror on a trial, I think you should be removed from the database since you’ve done your part.

2 – Witnesses lie. In the trial I was on, the mother of the victim claimed her son was an angel. Meanwhile, employment records showed he was fired for using drugs. He also had a police record. There’s PROOF that he was no angel, but she kept claiming he never touched drugs in his life. My solution? Have witnesses be connected to a lie detector.

3 – Attorney’s will ask questions (or imply statements) that they know aren’t admissable as evidence just so that the jurors can hear it and form an opinion before the judge requests that it be struck from the record. But the seed has already been planted – the jurors have already formed an opinion/assumption based what the attorney said. Perhaps the attorney’s should provide the judge questions in advance so they can’t get away with crap like that.

Anyway, I know my suggestions mean nothing. Hell, the ACLU will surely get on my ass for my lie-detector idea. I guess I’m just bitter that I keep getting called in for jury duty.

At least I’m safe for another 3 years, at least. I guess I’ll see you in court in May 2013.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by Zach on May 8, 2010 11:39 am

    It is a shame that witnesses lie, but I would expect a mother to call her child an angel. I don’t think Moms can be objective about their children. It’s comforting to me that no matter what I do, my Mom would be my advocate to the bitter end.

    Also, I don’t think lie detectors would help simply because they don’t work.

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