October 26, 2005

It's my turn.

Last week I received notice that I have been selected for jury duty. This has made me as giddy as a boy going out on a date with a girl that is a “sure thing”. For years, I have wanted to serve on a jury. It is something that I have always wanted to do, and I’m hoping that this will be my turn. At this point, I’m pretty sure most of you are thinking I’m rather insane. Most of the people that I have talked to about this don’t understand either. They would do just about anything to avoid jury duty. To them it is a burden and waste of time.

To me jury duty gives me a chance to see something I love in action and to be a part of it, the American legal system. When I worked in Law Enforcement, I loved court days. Sitting in the courtroom, hearing the cases, listening to the lawyers fight for their clients by presenting or spinning facts, just being a part of the legal system. Watching the judge and jury listen to everything and mull over the evidence. Seeing the beauty of years of defining constitutional rights and to see them applied to an individual case, was their fourth amendment rights violated, where they denied due process, etc.

Too many people I have talked to either view it as a waste of their time or, in a couple of occasions, a way to get out of work. I’ve even heard people telling each other what to do to get out of jury duty. This really pisses me off. As a citizen of the United States it is your duty to serve on a jury, it is an obligation and a way to uphold our way of life. How? When you sit in the jury box, and the lawyers present their cases, you are helping to enforce our laws and constitution. If Slick Johnny gets off on a technicality because Officer Jones performed an illegal search of his vehicle, hopefully Officer Jones learned from his mistake so next time someone’s constitutional rights aren’t violated. If Scary Bob is convicted of a crime due to overwhelming evidence, then you just helped uphold the laws of our country.

Think of it this way. If you ever had to go to court (innocent or guilty) who would you rather have on the jury, someone that is there wishing they where somewhere else or someone that is actually interested and excited to be part of the system? I know I would rather have someone that is paying attention to the case. That way I don’t have to worry about my fate being determined by someone with a “gut feeling”.

Now I have to sit and wait to find out if they will actually pick me to serve on the jury. The last two times I was called up I was dismissed. Once when I was in college, because I was studying law and the second time I was working in Law Enforcement. What I really would like to do is serve on the Grand Jury. In Illinois, it is a six-month assignment every other Wednesday. I’d be in heaven. To hear that many cases and to decide if there is enough to indict would rock!

Posted by Contagion in Rants and Raves at October 26, 2005 01:15 PM | TrackBack

I'd like to indict a ham sandwich, myself.

Posted by: caltechgirl at October 26, 2005 12:45 PM

I *LOVE* jury duty, too. I hardly ever get to serve, though. The one time I actually got on a trial, I was the head juror, too.

The judge didn't like us (the jury) when we asked if we could fine the plantiff instead of having the defendent have to pay...

Posted by: Ogre at October 26, 2005 01:04 PM

I too love jury duty, but never get picked!

Posted by: oddybobo at October 26, 2005 03:45 PM

I served on a jury once, and I was happy to be there. It was a land dispute, which was kind of a bummer (I wanted a criminal case, dammit!), but it still felt good. I'm just waiting to be called again. I'd love it!

And yes, serving on the Grand Jury would freakin' ROCK!

Posted by: Wes at October 27, 2005 12:03 AM

Scary Bob was framed! Framed, I tell you!!

Posted by: Graumagus at October 27, 2005 12:13 AM


Let that be a lesson to ALL of you!

Posted by: Harvey at October 27, 2005 07:54 AM

I'd like a crack at being on a jury. The only time I was called for duty, I never made it on a jury - which disappointed me a bit.

Posted by: Barb at October 27, 2005 02:15 PM

I want to serve on a Jury too, but everytime I get called (it's once a year with the system they have now) I never get picked.

They don't like the fact that I am a college educated girl, turns the defense off big time.

Posted by: Machelle at October 28, 2005 07:33 AM

I get called to jury duty every 3 or 4 years and I'm in my 50's so I have lots of experience. I think most of the would-be jurors in this discussion are a bit naive.

First of all - as a jury, ALL your trial information is filtered through 2 teams of lawyers more interested in WINNING than getting at the truth. Jurors can't ask questions, cross-examine witnesses, or do independent research. Imagine trying to choose a car by ONLY listening to advertisements from Ford and Toyota - and NEVER getting to check JD Powers, Consumer Reports, state "lemon law" stats, talk to other people who own the car, and never getting to read Car & Driver or Road & Track, never going online to car-discussion forums, never looking under the hood and never getting to do a test drive!!

That's what it's like to be a juror. You are just passive sheep getting carefully filtered information from people who have a vested interest in selling you their POV! AND you're treated like a slave. You are forced to abandon your job and livelihood for an unpredictable period of time that could last for weeks or months! You are ordered around, told when to sit and stand, and always told to shut up. It's a violation of your rights under the 13th Amendment (involuntary servitude) but people put up with it out of a sense of duty.

Also, PLENTY of civilized countries with good systems of justice that do as good or better than us at protecting the rights of the accused and running fair trials hardly EVER use juries. Most countries in western Europe, for example hardly ever use juries. So it it simply not true that a fair system of justice requires juries - that's not the only way to run a trial.

Posted by: p nelson at November 15, 2005 09:55 PM