Jury Duty and Open Thread

I'm in a room with around 400 of my fellow citizens waiting to be called or excused from jury duty.

No lawyer has ever let me serve on a jury. It's too bad because I'd like to see the process from that perspective.

Anyway, it looks like I'll be here for at least a few hours before being sent home, so here's an open thread for you.

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    Jeralyn (1.00 / 1) (#18)
    by andreww on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 01:14:46 PM EST
    BTD has a thread going with a Quote that doesn't exist attributed to Michelle Obama.  We can all disagree on different things - but facts shouldn't be one of them.  Can you please have him address this false quote?  In the title he has  

    Michelle Obama: " I Would Have To Think About Supporting Clinton If She Is The Nominee"

    She never said this and it causes a credibility problem for TL and I feel you should be aware of this.
    Sorry for jumping in on this thread.

    that's exactly what she said (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 02:04:20 PM EST
    listen to the clip.

    Gosh Andrew (none / 0) (#25)
    by athyrio on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 03:00:14 PM EST
    You sound downright desperate....Calm down...

    A Dist. Atty in Douglas County (none / 0) (#1)
    by magster on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 10:36:50 AM EST
    kept me on a DUI jury panel even though I am a DUI defense attorney. Very weak case that should have been dismissed prior to trial, and the DA almost seemed embarrassed that his bosses would not let him dismiss.  It was an interesting and fun day, but it was a waste of time.  Acquittal.

    Just don't say in voir dire that (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 10:45:35 AM EST
    you've been watching that process from the perspective of your profession.  Even though I was a former DDA, the prosecutor told me later she almost kicked me when I sd. I was wondering why she challenged several jurors.

    "Get out of jury duty free card...." (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 10:55:24 AM EST
    Anytime I didn't want to serve, a general "I don't like cops" in criminal cases and "I don't like golddiggers" in civil cases will do the trick.

    Mine: "I'm trained in logic" (none / 0) (#21)
    by roy on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 02:17:56 PM EST
    Engineers rarely get to serve on juries, because (at least according to those same engineers) we are too good at recognizing the difference between a logical argument and mere sophistry.

    Not that I'd contrive to get out of serving on a jury.  Jury trials are better than the alternatives.


    It's not so much that lawyers would rather (none / 0) (#28)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 03:29:15 PM EST
    people susceptible to sophistry over people trained in logic.  Rather, lawyers want people who will recognize and allow for the fact that, in life, there are always loose ends and then not penalize the plaintiffs (or criminal defendants) when the loose ends are lying around.

    Or, to put it metaphorically, we want carpenters, not cabinetmakers.  Carpenters are willing to allow for a missing sixteenth here and an eighth (or even a whole inch) there because they know the structure is still sound.  Cabinetmakers get all bent out of shape (and will tear apart and rebuild from scratch) if the project has a sixty-fourth of a discontinuity, or the grain doesn't match perfectly.  Engineers are cabinetmakers by nature - it's all gotta fit perfectly.  And, I speak as one whose undergrad and first career was in engineering, and who has represented both actual carpenters and cabinetmakers.  The latter can be a major pain.


    I had jury duty last year (none / 0) (#4)
    by Steve M on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 10:57:04 AM EST
    I'm a civil litigator, and I was in criminal court, so no one seemed to have a problem with me sitting.  Plus, this is Manhattan so everyone is a lawyer anyway.

    The voir dire questions were unorthodox.  "Name someone you would consider a hero," said the prosecutor.  "My father," I replied.  He smiled.  Good law-and-order answer, they told me later.

    The defense lawyer had a more pertinent question.  Could I view the evidence objectively if it turned out that the defendant didn't testify, she wanted to know.  "Of course," I said, "it's his Constitutional right."  She loved that answer!

    I ended up getting picked for that jury.  Unfortunately, when I showed up the next morning for the start of the trial, a mistrial had been declared for some reason!  Oh well.  Guess I don't have to go back for a few years.

    How about this one? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 11:01:02 AM EST
    I get summoned every couple of years (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 11:07:50 AM EST
    and never get seated on the petit juries.  The lawyers bounce me for being a lawyer, or my number doesn't come up.

    But, this year was different.  I was summoned to serve on a grand jury.  And I was seated.  Someone asked the clerk "what are the qualifications to be on the grand jury?"  The clerk's answer:  "if you're here and understand what I'm saying, you're qualified.  We'll do your criminal background check during lunch."

    It was a seriously enlightening experience the details of which, sadly, I cannot share.  But I'd gladly go back again, even though the jury pay didn't cover lunch, let alone parking.

    That's easy (none / 0) (#7)
    by Patrick on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 11:11:19 AM EST
    No lawyer has ever let me serve on a jury

    Because you can't be objective.  Would you leave me on one of your juries?

    TL - while you're sitting around (none / 0) (#8)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 11:11:45 AM EST
    Jury Assembly and looking for something to read, try this:  Wikileaks has posted the 2005 edition of US Rules of Engagement for Iraq.  And, FWIW, it was OK under them for US forces to go into Iran and Syria.

    I've Gotten Close (none / 0) (#9)
    by BDB on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 11:14:01 AM EST
    The closest I got was to stand up to become one of the 12 after they had just excused someone before me.  Before I even made it to my seat, the defense counsel told the court to save me the trouble and thank me for my service.  Heh.

    It's weird, but I think if I were the defense counsel and had a really good case, I might want government lawyers on my jury.  I would definitely only look at the evidence presented and, if the DA didn't prove his case, I'd vote to acquit.  

    When I was a judicial clerk, a defense counsel in a fairly big drug case kept on a State Deputy Attorney General, I think it was because he was African American.  It did not help the defendant, although not much would've, he was a noxious defendant even by drug dealer standards and almost all of the damage he caused was to African American kids.

    After a really long voir dire recently, (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 11:17:02 AM EST
    I was in the same situation in a shop lifting case.  When I sat down, the defense counsel asked the court to thank and excuse me.  All the jurors laughed saying that was predictable.  

    Long Voir Dire (none / 0) (#13)
    by BDB on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 12:14:47 PM EST
    That was my main complaint.  I don't mind serving on a jury, but I knew the minute I heard what the case was about that I was going to be excused.  Still, I had to wait around two days for it to happen.  Honestly, I just wanted to stand up and say, excuse me, but can I skip ahead and tell you my career history?  Because no matter how many times I say I can be fair, that's going to get me kicked.

    I like to listen to other attorneys (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 12:44:15 PM EST
    selecting a jury, even though I'm pretty certain I won't be on that particular jury.  Educational.

    I served (none / 0) (#11)
    by Stellaaa on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 11:29:31 AM EST
    When I turned 18, the year they gave 18 year old the vote, I was chosen for jury duty. It was 1972, the year of McGovern, my first campaign. The defense attorney kept looking at me and talking about police tactics and Watergate. We made our decision the guy was guilty, drunk driving. But we wrote a letter to the San Mateo County Sheriff condemning their procedures. We told the judge that we had some real concerns and did not want to just leave it at that. We followed up with meetings with the Sherif and wanted more citizen oversight. Talk about getting political. What was amazing was the spectrum, political and socio economic of the jury and how we united, gee, and there was no Obama to do it. Since then I don't get picked.

    It didn't help me (none / 0) (#12)
    by byteb on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 12:02:13 PM EST
    but luckily just before being seated, the parties came to an agreement.

    I get called pretty much annually (none / 0) (#14)
    by janinsanfran on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 12:41:49 PM EST
    and never will be seated, though sometimes I get questioned. I've done too many things, professionally and avocationally, and know too many local people (once I knew the judge's clerk). Lawyers on both sides are afraid to take a chance on someone who is too intellectually curious, I think. Don't know that I blame them.

    It is always interesting to observe the seriousness with which majority of my fellow inmates in the jury room approach the process. Sometimes it is even inspiring.

    I get called a lot also (none / 0) (#16)
    by Repack Rider on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 01:10:27 PM EST
    ...and never chosen.  Maybe it's the beard and pony tail.

    During one selection process a prosecutor asked me whether I had ever had a negative experience with police.  He cut me off and sent me home before I got even halfway through my list.

    I was called for a civil trial once.  The issues were the firing of two young men, whether they were "independent contractors" or employees, and what compensation might be due to them.

    Plaintiff's attorney asked a woman whether she would have a problem awarding compensation for "pain and suffering" over the job termination, and she gave the best answer I have ever heard.

    "These boys are what, 22 and 23?  They have their lives in front of them, and they think that being fired is 'pain and suffering'?  Listen, I have had three children, and that included a lot more pain and suffering than they had over being fired, and nobody offered to compensate ME for it."

    The attorney couldn't dismiss her fast enough, and the entire courtroom was rolling in the aisles.  After that, the defense probably didn't have to present a case on "pain and suffering," since she had already made a pretty good argument.

    I love JD (none / 0) (#17)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 01:12:54 PM EST
    I always get seated once my number gets called too.  Must be because I'm from Iowa and have such an honest face.

    I always find it very interesting (and it beats work!).  I've sat on a heroin possession, slip and fall against a local supermarket and a high profile gang-related home invasion trail.  

    Jury Duty (none / 0) (#19)
    by TomStewart on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 01:24:11 PM EST
    I've been called twice, but never served. I got as far as questioning, but they didn't seem to want anyone who had been to college on the jury. Disqualified both times, dang it.

    And I even wore a tie.

    jury duty (none / 0) (#23)
    by tek on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 02:21:14 PM EST
    They always get interested in me when they find out my husband's a lawyer. Then, when I start answering the questions, I get dismissed!

    Maybe (none / 0) (#41)
    by TomStewart on Tue Feb 05, 2008 at 01:56:53 AM EST
    You should wear a tie...?

    jury duty (none / 0) (#22)
    by tek on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 02:20:02 PM EST
    interesting that they let you blog from the waiting room. Shows that Hillary's idea about putting bloggers in government agencies really could work!

    a lot of counties are putting in wireless (none / 0) (#27)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 03:21:17 PM EST
    internet, so people can bring their laptops along and work (or blog or whatever) while waiting.  In prior years, I'd bring along interrogatories from my cases to answer, and get some billable hours out of sitting captive in the jury room.

    do you turn off the meter when you read and blog on TL?

    Depends. But it's usually off. (none / 0) (#33)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 04:17:28 PM EST
    BTD must have very few billable hours. (none / 0) (#35)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 04:29:18 PM EST
    Well, he has his own practice, IIRC, (none / 0) (#36)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 05:25:28 PM EST
    so he can only blame (or credit) himself for however many billables he has (or doesn't).

    It's not like the young attorney I heard the other day, discussing his decision to quit outright.  He wanted to do something which required a "lot" of time, and hoped to be able to find a job which would allow him to do that.  All the interviews were positive, but the prospective employers were all requiring 200 to 225 hours a month, which would have left this young attorney neither energy nor time for what he wanted to do.  So, he looked in the bank account, recognized his important-to-him project would be over and done with in a couple months, and told the prospective employers "thanks, but no thanks".

    That quota of billables is really like having two attorneys do the work of three full-timers (40 hr/week).  And, thinking about it, the real reason behind that (besides partners trying to burn out as many young associates to cut down on their competition at the partnership level) seems to be the "overhead" of providing benefits, specifically health care.

    Hiring three to do the work on a 40 hr/week basis costs, in terms of benefits, 50% more than hiring 2 and making them work about 55.  Plus, those 3, then having time to do things besides work, might get married and have kids, bringing more people under the umbrella of benefits.  By overworking them, the firm can save huge amounts on benefits.

    I suppose the key to breaking this (and to make for the younger lawyers a possibility of having a family) is to decouple health benefits from employment.  It's not that goal-state which is difficult.  It's the transition from the nightmare we have now.


    I own my own biz. (none / 0) (#40)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 09:36:40 PM EST
    200-225 hr/month is de rigueur. My wife's an outside sales rep, 90% commission. 200-225 is de rigueur for her too.

    I didn't realize btd was self-employed. His talk about having big corporate clients made me think he was working for a big corporate firm.

    If he is self-employed, that bumps him up a notch in my book.

    As much as it would piss me off if I found out one of my employees was spending hours/day on TL (or any bulletin board) bloviating, it would piss me off even more if my attorney was spending hours on TL and charging it to my account.

    Trust is all we have in the end, in all we do.


    Kate Michelman forr Obama (none / 0) (#24)
    by robrecht on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 02:43:58 PM EST
    Have people seen the Kate Michelman (former pres of (NARAL) endorsement of Obama over at HuffPo? Sorry, can't post link on TL from my phone.

    i've had several opportunities for jury duty. (none / 0) (#26)
    by hellothere on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 03:00:21 PM EST
    one involved a gentleman who had a little too much to drink. he was at a bar and the management requested he not drink anymore and leave. the police came and told him to get a ride home. the guy was calling for a ride on the payphone when a rookie policeman came in and arrested him.

    it went to trial. we let him go because he was complying with what had been requested of him. he wasn't causing a ruckus.

    another jury trial would have been a rape trial. in some ways i wish i could have served, but i wasn't comfortable with he said and she said. that was one of the points brought out by the prosecution so i was excused.

    My only jury service so far (none / 0) (#29)
    by baked potato on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 03:38:38 PM EST
    was a meth possession case.  Although the defendant was being charged with both "possession" and "possession for sale," we were never told whether or not his companions were being charged with anything. Also the homeowners/parents were portrayed by the prosecutor as lacking any knowledge of anything going on under their roof.  

    While the evidence was fairly plain that the defendant and his chums were deep into using, there was no specific evidence of their supplying meth to anyone else.  However, some on the jury wanted to convict on the "possession for sale" charge as well as simple possession.  Ironically (or not) it was a parole officer on the jury who convinced them to back off (and resolve the deadlock on that charge) by saying that the defendant's actual time in jail would probably be the same whether the "possession for sale" charge was returned guilty or not.

    maybe the parole officer saw firsthand the damage (none / 0) (#38)
    by hellothere on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 08:37:08 PM EST
    the drug laws do.

    Go Giants. (none / 0) (#31)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 03:52:58 PM EST

    Great game (none / 0) (#32)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 03:58:21 PM EST
    Manning was excellent, but the real MVP -- by far -- was that defense.

    Couldn't agree more. (none / 0) (#34)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 04:22:20 PM EST
    For anyone interested (none / 0) (#37)
    by Alien Abductee on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 06:57:55 PM EST
    in what the other side is thinking, they're lovin' on Obama on Redstate (as much as Republicans can - sample comment: "MAYBE he will manage to turn the liberal base away from hating America") while they're hoping for Hillary to win because they think she'll be easier to beat.

    These diaries are especially amusing:

    Conservatives Crushing on Obama

    Freakin' Awesome Obama Music Video


    I didn't make the cut (none / 0) (#39)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 09:10:33 PM EST
    Not surprisingly, the D.A. used a challenge on me. It was a felony burglary case. Each side got 20 minutes to question us. I was surpised she kicked off two other people before me.  She was pretty new.. she asked people to raise their hand if they were concerned about crime in Denver. Some did. Then she asked people to raise their hand if they weren't concerned about crime in Denver. Mine shot up.

    One funny episode had everyone laughing. She asked if anyone had been a victim of a crime. A 30'ish male raised his hand and described how he had been  busted by a cop for selling him a joint.  She excused him right before me.

    Many in my group of 50 were very educated. There were doctors, civil lawyers, accountants, social workers and many with masters' degrees.  It was racially mixed. Three had served on murder juries.

    The defense lawyer was good. The defense kicked off a young woman from NY whose father was a career NYC cop and several who didn't like the judge telling them a cop's testimony carried no more weight or credibility than anyone else's.

    What I gleaned from the voir dire: It was a circumstantial case with no eyewitnesses and the prime accuser was, according to the defense, falsely accusing the defendant, a woman, to get attention. They may have found some of the homeowners' possessions at Defendant's house. But, the only charge was burglary, entering without permission with the intent to steal, not possessing stolen property.

    The judge really hammered reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence. The trial is supposed to last a day and a half.

    Today's reason to be nervous...... (none / 0) (#42)
    by kdog on Tue Feb 05, 2008 at 09:08:09 AM EST
    FBI Biometric Database

    Any chance Clinton or Obama will speak out against this database and stand up for freedom and privacy?....lol  Betcha Ron Paul would:)

    Maybe it ain't so crazy to wear a burqua or other face covering, I know I don't want my face in their blasted machine.  I think I'll go with the Jesse James outlaw bandana, maybe in a forest green.

    From the other side of the aisle (none / 0) (#43)
    by ytterby on Tue Feb 05, 2008 at 10:13:10 AM EST
    a prospective juror in my perjury case was excused because when asked why he thought he couldn't be fair he said "I hate the government." Frankly, I hate the government too and I think he would have made an excellent juror.

    re (none / 0) (#44)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Feb 05, 2008 at 04:44:00 PM EST
      I had a trial last week and we had a lawyer in the pool. Neither I nor the AUSA struck her and she ended up as the alternate. I actually would have liked to have her deliberating because I just had a good feeling about her. Federal Court is  a little different. You submit written voir dire questions and the judge asks all of the questions directed to the pool generally and then if requested certain jurors are individually questioned  in camera. As expected, the lawyer was chosen for individual voir dire and she was  a career AG's Office (state) employee and from her demeanor I just felt she would be a stickler for making the government carry its burden of proof and that she seemed like she had a heart.

      It was a short trial and she was excused prior to deliberations. The judge congratuulated her because he said  her she "passed the test" because neither side struck her (Each side though only has 1 strike from a group of 3 with respect to the alternate.)

      More interesting, perhaps, was the young lady who raised her hand when asked about bad feelings for law enforcement or prosecutors. In chambers she related how her husband had recently been convicted of battery in a state court and that she had testified and been called a liar by the prosecutor and therefore didn't like prosecutors. The government moved to strike for cause but the judge denied the motion because I led her through the rote rehabilitative  questions, so the government had to use a peremptory on her. I admit I always hate  it when, as usual, that situation is reversed and I'm the one having to use a peremptory on someone who expressed bias but then answers leading questions by saying  they will put their feelings aside and decide the case fairly based on only the evidence and the law.