Monday, September 20, 2010

Jury Duty? (This is stuff you should know!)

I've received my first-ever summons to appear as a juror!  I have no idea yet whether it is for a criminal or civil matter, or whether it is a minor case or a Big DealTM.  I don't plan on trying to weasel out.  I think this is something to be taken seriously.  But in case the case seems totally bogus and annoying, I'll let you in on my two ways of possibly being removed from the jury pool.

1.  FIJA.  This stands for the Fully Informed Jury Association.  It is a group that wants people to know about Jury Nullification. I forget which SC Justice (may have even been way back to John Jay) said (paraphrased) "The jury sits in judgment of the case at hand AND THE LAW that is alleged to have been violated."  As an example, imagine your jurisdiction has passed a law making it illegal to chew bubblegum in public.  Say a person was caught in the act of doing so: multiple eyewitnesses, surveillance footage, maybe the cops even rolled up while that person was in the middle of blowing a bubble.  This person is clearly in violation of the law and would seem to merit a verdict of guilty, but the jury can say "STUPID LAW!  NOT GUILTY!" 

The judicial systems frowns on jurors putting this power to use.  They like to manage and cajole the jury into the decisions the system wants.  Just admitting that one is aware of FIJA/Jury Nullification will probably get you excused from the jury pool.  If they ask, I plan to play dumb about it.  Jury Nullification is a crucial check on government power.  Not that I'd have any qualms about throwing down a "GUILTY!!" on somebody who deserves it.  It's just that I completely believe that a jury that really knows what's going on will do the best job of meting out true justice.

2.  If I want out and they're not bothered by me standing on the chair yelling "JURY NULLIFICATION!  Neener-Neener!" Then I will have to fall back on plan B...
sweaty pitstains cropped for your viewing enjoyment
I've had this shirt for about 20 years and it is a little small nowadays.  But I'd wear it as an undershirt and then say "Dang, is it ever hot in here!" and then strip-tease my way down to this old black T-shirt.  Then ask the DA "Hey, once we find this @#$& guilty, can I be the one to flick the switch?  Can I, can I???"  That ought to get me excused rather promptly.  And before one of you nitpickers gives me grief about Oregon using lethal injection rather than the chair, feel free to zip it.  When trying to get excused from jury duty, being a little screwy and out-of-touch is an asset.

I was summoned once to testify in a criminal case.  Back in '87, freshman year of college, some friends and I here hanging out in my dorm room.  From our 4th floor window, we could see a guy below us slashing bike tires.  He was methodically moving along the bike rack slashing each tire!  We called Campus Security and they arrested him.  The guy ended up getting a jury trial and his defense attorney was a real butthair.  He was asking me all these stupid non-sequitor questions and it was pissing me off.  I'd answer "Yes, but.." or "no, but..." and give some additional information to give the jury the fullest picture of what I'd seen.  But that's not what Attorney J. Vernon Pantybunch, esq wanted.   He eventually asked the judge if he could treat me as a hostile witness, which was granted.  He stared at me hard and said "OK, a simple yes or no question..." I don't even remember what the question was, but I answered "yeaaaaaaaah."  At which point he rolled his eyes and said "let the record show that the witness responded in the affirmative..."  That went on for a while before he gave up and called a different witness.  The perp ended up getting off.  The jury said he had "no motive."  Well, come to find out, he was facing expulsion for whacking an RA with a pool cue, but that wasn't allow to be entered as evidence...

I actually hope I am selected.  I've been on one side of the jury box and I kinda think it'd be cool to be on the other.  And if you turn on Fox News and they're talking about some juror in Oregon running around half-clothed and spouting FIJA slogans, well, you'll know it was a boring case...


  1. Oooh! Adventures in Civic Service!

    When trying to get excused from jury duty, being a little screwy and out-of-touch is an asset. Actually, in my experience, being a little screwy and out-of-touch is an asset, if not a prerequisite, to being seated on a jury panel!

    I've sat on a couple of criminal juries, but always get bounced off of civil ones.

    Jury duty in Louisiana is something else. (I still haven't figured out that HTML tag thingy to do a link, so if you want to see my experience in the Orleans Parish courthouse, cut and paste this: ).

    (Glad I checked that tag before I posted the link -- there was a post in there that had absolutely nothing to do with jury duty. Or with most anything at all. Just that guy who's living in the White House.)

    Go for the tee shirt! I saw people in our jury "lounge" wearing pajama bottoms.

    I hope you get picked! That could make for some pretty entertaining posts!

  2. Nice call on the jury nullification thing. That'll go over like a lead balloon with the judge.

    You'll be off the pool within two minutes of mentioning it.

  3. I get called to jury duty about once a year. I don't usually try to weasel out, but I think I set a precedent here in Arizona. During the jury selection for a case involving a convict accusing a prison guard opening his mail, I said something to the effect that I trusted the law enforcement officers testimony more than the criminal(I know shocking!) I was not selected for jury duty. Since then, every time I've gone for jury duty, they've asked whether you trust the testimony of a law enforcement officer more than someone else when I don't remember ever being asked that question. If you say yes, you will not be selected.

  4. I was on a week-long civil trial about 8 or 10 years ago. Both attorneys had the slowest, twangiest Southeast Texas drawl you've ever heard. SO nasal-twangy were they that even I could hardly stand it. And each one of them, especially for the plaintiff, repeated every question at least 3 times, for "clarity", worded slightly different.

    I am so excited that you might get picked, that if I were to find out what court, what judge, etc., I might call with a glowing recommendation that you be the foreman of the jury! Then I'd come to Oreo-gone and watch, and maybe sell popcorn.

    Please get picked!

  5. I declare, based on no authority whatsoever, "When trying to get excused from jury duty, being a little screwy and out-of-touch is an asset" to be the quote of the day.

    Feel free to celebrate in such manner as you see fit.

  6. Yeah Inno, if you get "seated," it would make for some entertaining reading. Moogie knows her junk when it comes to the courtroom stuff.

    So, maybe don't be too screwy. Just wear some white pants with a lemonade stain on the front, and ground-in mud in the rear. Or, just go whole hog and put together the real thing for your courtroom uniform.

    I think that would work.

  7. ohhhhhhhh good lux and do tell us if its a hung jury or if you do a re-make of 12 Angry

  8. Have fun on Jury Duty - I've been selected a few times. Another good way of getting off is when the lawyer asks you if you could objectively judge the guilt or innocence of his client just say "who, that guilty son-of-a-bitch over there?"

    As for bubble gum being made illegal. Well, here in NYC it's only a matter of time before Mayor Michael "Facist" Bloomberg does that......for our own good of course.

  9. I got called for jury duty a couple times in my early twenties. Since I was at the time unemployed, ten bucks a day and a free lunch seemed like a pretty good deal. Plus I got to ponder the great questions of the day, like: Who is more despicable, the bleary-eyed stoner or the coke-sniffin' DA?

    Anyway, on the last case I engaged in a clear-cut act of nullification and voted for acquittal. After the foreman delivered our verdict, they polled the jury. (I thought they only did that to Herefords.)

    Coincidence or not, I have never been asked to sit on a jury since.

  10. That's going to be fun and interesting for you, Inno.
    If you wear the white pants w/assorted stains, and that lovely black tee church, I think you'll get excused about 5 minutes after you walk through the door.

  11. Wear the shirt! Wear the shirt!

  12. I always liked all the old folks that are "professional jurors." They literally volunteer to be on juries. I guess it does keep them off the streets.

  13. "When trying to get excused from jury duty, being a little screwy and out-of-touch is an asset."

    When interviewed by the judge for a case involving a prison inmate who assaulted a correctional officer I told the judge the truth, I said "Your honor, I was medically retired from law enforcement in 2000. There is not enough Prozac in the entire state of California to make me think that the accused is not guilty."
    The bailiffs cracked up. I was soon in the parking lot headed for home.

  14. Tell them that you are in Law enforcement and they will excuse you in a minute.

  15. Hey Inno! This has ZERO to do with jury duty. Can you drop a link to that post where you had the great ring-tone? I would sure appreshunate it.

    I'm subscribed to the comments on this post, so I'll get it.

    I didn't download it at the time you posted it. But now I want! I want BAD!

    Thanks, Andy.

  16. Thanks Inno! You da' man!

    Pulling for your Beavers. Actually I watched Boise get outplayed by my Louisiana Tech Bulldogs for a good bit of the game last season, before finally losing.

    Seriously, Louisiana Tech. Not LSU, Louisiana Tech! I'm a huge Tiger fan, but attended Tech, so I keep up with sports over yonder. I think y'all can take 'em. They are not as good as they think they are. I certainly hope y'all stomp 'em, and put the Boise "waaa, waaa, waaa" biniss to bed for this season."


Family-friendly phrasing heartily encouraged.


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