Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jury Doody

Last time I was summoned for jury duty I worked for a company that did not pay me while I was out. I was ticked. And then I was picked.

They have you call the night before and maybe you'll be let off the hook, and I was not. I headed in, and luckily I live in a less than urban county, so I didn't have to pay to park or anything. I took my book and read A LOT. I listened as they called 30 to 45 people at a time and directed them towards a court room.

I was in the last group. I seriously thought I had a chance of going home - or back to work, but probably home.

I was the second person in that group. And the the DA guy starts his schpeel. They start with person 1, and determine whether they like person 1 or not and then move to person 2, and so on until they have 12 people that both sides agree on.

The case was about a felon with a gun. Felons can't have guns, so his mere possession of it was the crime, not that he did anything with it. So the questions ranged from "Do you live in this guy's neighborhood?" to "Can you think of a scenario where you would give the guy the minimum 2 years, and can you also think of a scenario where you'd give the guy the full 10?" Person 1 was either REALLY good at faking stupidity, was really stupid, or there was a language barrier big enough that the DA, finally frustrated by rephrasing the question 3 times, and her giving conflicting answers, he just gave up and wiped her off the list.

Everyone told me to just be super opinionated and I wouldn't get picked. But they didn't ask me any really opiniony questions. I mean I guess I could have been all "10 years!!! No tolerance!!! Maximum sentence!!!" But I can't be like that because I am rational and I don't lie well. So yeah, I got picked.

After 2 days of testimony in the guilt/innocence phase in which the poor defendant's lawyer threw him under the bus. "Yeah, he had the gun." We came back with a guilty verdict pretty quickly.

1 day of testimony in the sentencing phase, in which the defendant's lawyer again proved her incompetency. She spent quite a bit of time establishing to us that the guy's Mom knew him. And we were left to determine his fate, but not until the next morning. The next morning we gathered in the room and were told to wait. As it turns out he took a deal for 5 years. Which is kind of sad because if he'd stuck with us, we were buying his story of the events (took gun from unstable friend, separated the clip from the gun [corroborated by police], had lost a friend in a gun fight a year before, etc) and we were leaning towards giving him just 2.

After the trial the lawyers came by the jury room to talk about any questions we might have had or the process in general, and the lawyer for the defendant asked if there was anything she could have done to improve, and we all kind of looked at each other. The jury foreman finally told her that maybe she shouldn't admit her client is guilty in the guilt/innocence phase.

That was county, I had also received a summons for the following week for the city. Which I thankfully was NOT needed for - although they still made me show up at 8 and then come back at 9 to tell me that.

On Tuesday I will report again for the county. At least this time, my company supports the system and believes in it, and will pay my my normal salary for the days I am on Jury Duty. I just hope I don't get picked again. It was pretty sad to know that guy essentially gave up 3 years of his life on a bluff.


Carol said...

good luck at jury duty, I've never gotten picked but my sis just did and spent a WEEK AND A HALF on a trial to end in a hung jury, oh and bonus...she lost all her vacation since her company doesn't pay for jury time, sucks!

The Modernish Father said...

As soon as you walk to the courtroom, loudly ask the bailiff if you'll get to personally execute the criminal yourself.

That generally gets you out of jury duty. The more minor the offense, the better.