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Monday, November 3, 2008

Jury Duty

My civic Duty √
My political process duty - on tap

As stated in the mug shot, I had jury duty today. Funny thing is it’s the shortest amount of time I’ve ever spent actually at the court house, and yet, the most juryish stuff I’ve done when called! I brought the book I’ve been slowly reading since June with me, hoping to finish it and got about 6 pages read!

Out of the 165 people there, I was in the very first group called! With 39 other juror hopefuls...okay, that’s just me projecting. I know not everyone is as excited about jury duty as me. Anyway, 40 of us were called to be considered at the “voir dire”, the stage where perspective jurors meet with the judge and lawyers. The voir dire is when the judge, then the lawyers on both sides get to ask questions and choose the jury from the pool. They called 19 of us to be questioned. I was number 3!

We found out that it was a felony case from earlier this year. The 19 of us in direct consideration gave name, marital status, any kids and where we worked. Well, "ow" on that one. But it was comforting to hear that of 19 people, there were two others searching for work like me. Maybe that was worth the price of admission for me. I’m really not alone! 3 out of 19 looking for work is a 15.8% unemployment rate among perspective jurors. Astounding compared to the 6.1% national average at the end of October! Okay, that was a really small sample, but a pool of perspective jurors IS an actual sample of the area.

Everyone gave their basic information to tell who they are and who they know, that is do you, your spouse or children work for any place that would taint your views for the case. Now, since this is a legal preceding, I gave my legal status. I am not married and they did not ask what my living situation was. I am no more married than a homosexual person living with their life partner, a relationship the State of Ohio officially refuses to recognize, so there was no reason to bring up my housemate’s media occupation. It’s one more place that backwards-thinking laws shoot us ALL in the foot in the REAL modern world.

Sorry, off my soap box now. Ahem, jury duty!

After talking to each of the lawyers, we were sent to the back of the room with the other 21 from our group and 12 jurors and one alternate were called for the case. I was one of the six who didn’t make the cut. I kinda wish I could have stuck around to find out how it all turned out!

I got back to the assembly room to throw my name back into the tumbler for the next cases and sat back down. It was about 10:30. At 11:00 they told us that some of us would be going home, but would need to call at 5:00 PM to see if we were needed tomorrow. I was one of the ones sent home. I called at 5 and was told I didn’t need to come back, my civic service was complete.

So, I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get to participate on the case, but in the two times I was called in Michigan, I never got farther than spending a half or 3/4 of a day in the assembly room reading. Today,I got a new experience. I got to be in a criminal courtroom, something I’d never done before and got to sit in a juror’s chair, WAY more comfy that the airplane-style rows of sardine can chairs in the assembly room, and I got to see the screening process for juries. It was very cool!

Now that my civic duty is finished for this time around, I get to concentrate on opening the polls in the morning to vote and chase a few trains since David isn’t going in to work until late tomorrow. You see, I’m not working right now but he IS going to be late, covering elections!

1 comment:

No Reimer Reason said...

Last year, I got called for Jury Duty TWICE in one month. What are the chances for that? One was for my city and one was for my county, so different courts.

The first one for the city, I was not selected. But the second one I was selected to serve on the jury. People thought I was nuts, but I thought it was exciting and interesting. But also made me quite nervous because someone's fate was in our hands. Sure, it wasn't a murder trial or anything, but still important for the gentleman on trial. We found the guy "Not Guilty". There was a chance that he was guilty, but the district attorney couldn't prove it to us beyond the shadow of a doubt, so we gave a "Not Guilty" verdict because there was some room for doubt and all the evidence was circumstantial only, no actual proof.

I am glad it wasn't a murder trial or something like that though. Not only would it be really hard to listen to the evidence, but there would be so much at stake in the decision.

I agree with you though, definitely an interesting experience. :)