AZDuffman's Blog

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My Jury Duty---a view from the inside.December 5th, 2012 at 4:10:40 pm
Last week I was picked for a jury for the first time ever. The following series of posts is about the experience, figured it lets me make a small journal and based on the firends and family asking I think many people wonder what it is really like.

Day -1

In my couty you get a "pool number" on your summons then call the night before to see if you will be called or not. I just started a new job and have to tell my new supervisor that I may have to go to jury duty the day after I am hired. You read that right! Nothing anyone can do but I feel like a heel having hired people before and know missing even one day of training can be critical. I call and am told to report.

Day 0

No entry for a Day 0 but the math folks here may have a problem going directly from -1 to 1.


Day 1

Arrived at the courthouse, go through security, get to the third floor, a sign greets me saying if I am there for Jury Duty I am in the wrong place and need to go across the street. Last time I was called this was the building, but this summons is for criminal court. No huge deal, across the street I go. Security is tighter there as there are criminal and not civil trials here. You must remove your belt and jacket here, empty all pockets, and pass the metal detector. It is a process I will get very good at soon.

Find the room and sit down. We have to give our summons which is replaced with another form. We have to fill out a questionare about our life and if being on a jury will cause undue hardship. Just saying the later will is no guarantee you get out of it, more on that later.

A lot of time in court is spent waiting. Wheels of justice are moving, but you do not get informed. Eventually a defendant is brought in, with the ADA and his attorney. They read the charges and potential witnesses, then give an estimate of how long the trial will be. This one is big, they say "sequestered" as if it will be certain. Cop-Killer case. It takes 10 minutes to read the witness list, trial to take a week or more. I imagine explaining that to my new boss! As I do not watch the local news or read the local paper I have not heard about the case, with no cops or crooks in my life I know both attorneys would drool over me if I get into that pool. A judge is there for the selection (only case today that a judge comes in) and the potentials will be led to a courtroom or something fore more instruction. The case is BIG. My parents knew about it. Luckily I am not in the pool.

Second case is aggravated assult with a hammer. Some weird stuff involved but nowhere near the complexity of the first case. They clear seats and call out names, I am not picked.

Unlike civil Jury Duty here they let us leave for lunch. I go to my favorite local sushi place in my favorite building. Come back and they are reading for a third trial, this one a child sex case. Ugh again. This time I get called into the pool. They read a sort of abstract of the case, just like the other two. Again like the other two they ask if anyone is uncomfortable taking this case. About 1/3 of the hands go up, mine does not. I can judge a case on the facts and have no sex abuse perps of victims in my life that I know of, which means I do not for this purpose. We are given numbers and I am 19. I get called in time.

In this court you sit at the same table as the accused. Plus they "intrtoduce" you to him (in this case.) You do not shake hands, but you do give a friendly head-bob. One of the most weird parts of the whole thing. At the table they have my questionare and ask me about my answers. It is the kind worded where any "yes" merits more questions but any "no" means there is no issue.

I have a few "yes" as any normal person would. They ask about the undue financial hardship and tell them I started a new job yesterday, *YESTERDAY* I say. I tell them they know I cannot be fired because of this, but hey, I started a new job *yesterday.* They ask a few more "yeses" and I tell them the reasoning. In all of them I took a more narrow or broad view of what was intended. eg: "Have you worked with an officer of the court." Yes, I worked for a DUI attorney. I reply with "you asked, I answered, I'll clairify whatever you want" in a tone that is polite. I get sent back.

Later 6-7 of us get called and are told to follow the guy in front of the room. We have been selected. We go to the courtroom and he gives us some logistics for the next day. We do not have to report until 10:00 as they need to pick more jurors and the cop-killer case has apparantly sucked that day's pool dry. He is a friendly guy, treats us as people and you can see he knows all the emotions we have. We get dismissed, the journey has only begun!

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