Thursday, March 01, 2012

Jury Duty

No, I'm not on jury duty at the moment, but I did serve a year or so ago and it was an interesting experience. This was brought back by the following blog-post --

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/03/jury.html

-- and a discussion about why people hate serving on juries. I do think there's a little forest for the trees analysis here. Most people don't like serving simply because it's a significant interruption of their regular day, not because of the way they're treated once they arrive.

That said, "my" trial was instructive in many ways. I found the prosecution to be scary-condescending. The trial involved alleged contractor fraud and some of the state's case rested on how much money was involved in the job under discussion. This involved advanced math skills ranging from "addition" to "subtraction" but was presented to the jury like we were recalculating the orbit of the moon. I was also surprised to be one of twelve + two alternate folks on the hook for over three weeks (trial dates were off and on, since the case kept being postponed/pushed) over an issue involving maybe a thousand bucks. Oh, and we acquitted the guy in less than an hour, so maybe the lesson for the State is to pick better battles...

But all that said, I was not turned off by the experience. I like that the defendant had his day in court, and I'm not so hideous selfish that I find the imposition on my time unconscionably onerous... so don't be afraid if called. Embrace the addition and subtraction!

1 Comments:

Blogger Muldfeld said...

I'm a little relieved by your account. I myself got a letter late last year about the possibility of serving jury duty, and started imagining dealing with the fate of an alleged killer and the responsibility of deciding a person's fate, based on understanding the evidence fully; it was kinda nerve-wracking, but I was excited by the possibility of it inspiring my very slow writing.

The odd thing is that the letter asked if I could speak French fluently -- that is, understand what would be said in court in French. I had to honestly say, "no", because I often need a dictionary. Yet, English Canada does such a terrible job of teaching French that I wonder if anyone meets that criteria outside of Quebec. I'm far better at speaking French than 95% of English Canadians, mostly because I had to go to French school for 4 years in Montreal, but I was scared that if I said "yes", I'd be asking the court to repeat what was just said in French slower, then consult my English-French dictionary, and then maybe verify what was said by asking in English.

May I ask, if you serve on a jury, do you get secluded from the public and TV because news coverage might bias you? I don't know if I could live without my TV -- or talking to my family!

11:47 AM  

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