Jury Duty (long & irrelevant)

meldy_nva(z6b VA)May 6, 2011

About 20 months ago, I recieved a notice saying my name was among those potentially to be chosen for jury duty at some point in the next 2 years. I'd almost forgotten about it when (6 weeks ago) I get the formal notice that my name was drawn. It was all rather interesting (I've been called twice for state but this was the first time for federal); one fills out an info form online, and then beginning on a set date [for a 2-week period] one calls an automated telephone to find out whether or not to report in person to court on the next working date. I didn't have to report the first week, but did the second week.

Parking had been promised to be scant with strong recommendations to use the Metro subway and walk the 6 blocks to the courthouse. My nearest Metro station is the same one that is closest to the court, so that was of no use to me. As it happened, a parking garage less than two blocks from the courthouse had plenty of spaces for a mere $10 daily fee. One goes through a tight security check upon entering the building. The woman in front of me had to provide ID, go through electronic scanning and her bag was carefully searched. The guards just smiled at me and waved me through (I'd never seen any of them before). I can't help but wonder if there is a prejudice favoring innocent-looking old ladies, and if so, they really shouldn't. Narrow escalators up to the floor with the check-in room. 50 people checked in on time; 3 came scooting in late; 2 were no-shows. No-shows for federal duty???! In the midst of checking in (showing ID; agreeing -or not- roundtrip distance based on which a small fee will be paid; showing parking ticket to be refunded) the judge's clerk calls and advises he wants potential jurors asap... about 40 minutes earlier than usual.

We go up to the proper floor; are guided into a small courtroom and eventually things get underway. Instead of each juror being questioned individually, the judge asked a series of questions to the whole group. Sometimes the question required individual responses, so those folk stood up as the judge called on them, giving the required details. For instance, when asked if anyone was [or was married to or had a close relative] in law enforcement, about 20 raised a hand. In turn, each person detailed the answer. When asked if anyone did *not* use a computer at home and/or at work; the judge formally stated that the silence indicated everyone knew at least the basics on using a computer. ... This part of the process took almost three hours; yep, lots of questions. There was also a period during which the judge heard individual reasons for possibly being excused from duty -- I think only one qualified and she looked to be about 8 months pregnant.

Then random numbers were drawn by a machine (we each had a number according to our alphabetical place on the check-in). THEN those people filed into the jury box. A checklist was given in turn to the prosecuting and defendent attorneys who indicated either accepting or not accepting certain jurors (that took longer to write than to see done); those not accepted returned to the group area and an equal number of replacements were randomly drawn. Repeat; repeat; repeat; repeat - I lost count but I think 40 to 42 of the potential jurors took seat for a final actual jury of 14.

I was in the first lot drawn but, along with 9 others, was declined for duty. I'm partly relieved and partly sorry... in the attorneys' area there were maybe 70 large file boxes of hardcopy evidence. Hmmm, a case involving computers...

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Very interesting post. DH has been called for jury duty a few times, but until this last time his names was not called.
This time he had to report to the court, and his experience just about mirror yours.
Lol, they kept asking the potential jurors how they felt about drugs. Have you or anyone you know or someone in the family used drugs. There is a hint in there somewhere that it would be a drug case.He was not shy about saying that he was anti drugs.He was not picked as a juror.

One of our neighbors was in the jury pool and she explained that she was the sole breadwinner in the family and she was excused.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:26PM
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Meldy, glad it all worked out.
It must be a trial just for the jurors to go through to even be able to serve!
Hope you can rest easy 'til the NEXT notification.

I shudder when I get a notice---I served once and was scarred for the rest of my life---The only dissenting vote---took everyone about four hours to win me over and I wound up in tears, I was so upset for the guy.

I retrospect; they were right---I almost always go for the underdog, though. Don't know why.

The prosocuter came up to me afterwards and said,
"So and so told me you'd never forgive me for sending this old guy back up the river.
But, he was caught red-handed with drugs and a hunting rifle in the back of the PU."
I told him I understood, but the guy was 65
(seemed so OLD!!!!) and he couldn't spare five years sitting in a cell
and yes, he was right,
I would never forgive him for doing that to an old person.
I sort of forgave him a few months later
when he was found dead in his apt. from
an overdose of drugs.

Double jepardy.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:48AM
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The juror selection process can be a pain. The last time I was asked was during chemo and I was excused.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 1:41PM
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Meldy, your post was interesting. I took the easy way out not too long ago; since I'm well past 70, I am permanently excused b/c of age. However, I rather think I'd be excused, anyway, b/c of looking like--and being--"an innocent-looking old lady"! :>)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 2:00PM
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Irrelevant? Aren't all our posts irrelevant? I liked this one. That would've been a good jury to be on. At least interesting. Cool. Wonder why they didn't pick you? Or were you thrown off during one of the preemptory times? I'm not seeing why. Of course, I could just be reading too fast.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 1:52PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

I think most of the posts are interesting rather than irrelevant, but I was frankly doubtful about this one.

Mine was the seventh number called; calling the numbers took just long enough for me to note the first 6 numbers were all people who had requested to be excused. Of course, that was just a coincidence. At that particular portion of the pre-selection, before hearing the individual requests to be excused, the judge had repeated what was in the info packet, that there were *very* few acceptable reasons to be excused -one example was of having made reservations [in advance of being called to duty] for an unusual and expensive trip, and even that example was qualified as to being at the judge's discretion as whether it would be an adequate excuse. I have no idea why I wasn't accepted; now that it's all over, I'm more relieved than disappointed although I think the case is likely to be very interesting.

My favorite neighbor was with the DC police dept; after retiring she took a job working for a private investigative firm. She reminded me of that while I was commenting that so many of the available jurors were in law enforcement. I have no idea if it's done often or in many places, but she tells me that when a master list of potential jurors is selected, they are investigated for stuff like having a criminal record (that's what she did for the firm), prior arrests, and so forth. I guess that may explain why the judge seemed to be aware that *everyone* was familiar with computer usage, and maybe also explains the high percentage of sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, FBI, police officers and state troopers among the jurors called.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 7:58PM
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That was one thing about which I was greatly surprised, being in law enforcement (lawyers even! police, etc.) didn't get you kicked off the case for which I was a potential juror. That seems like it could be prejudicial? But that's my take on it. What really seemed to give our judge pause were people who had been victims of crime. It seemed to him, that it put an undue strain on them to go through a trial. Maybe. If it was a violent crime.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 9:47AM
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