Wednesday, April 11

Fuck Jury Duty Part 2

Yay! I don't have to serve, nor was I thrown in jail!

After six hours of waiting around, the remaining 11 of us were finally called to sit in the jury box for questioning.  When it was my turn the judge said, "Thighs McGee. Where were you born?"  I replied with, "Do I have to give personal information in front of the defendant?" The whole courtroom stared at me.  The judge said, "Not at all. I'll ask you afterwards in private."


When the judge was done with his questioning, the district attorney asked us as a group, "Will everyone here give this man a fair trial and be able to convict him if proven guilty?"

I thought about it.  The lawyers had nothing to go on, except for the plaintiff's and defendant's word. I know this because all day they spoke of mistaken identity and the lack of tangible evidence.  It was a he said/he said trial.  

It's interesting the judge made all of us sit in the courtroom to listen to the jury selection process.  When I actually had my eyes open, they burned into the back of the defendant's big bald head.  I wondered what kind of man is mistaken for an armed robber.  Was he at the wrong place at the wrong time?  Does he have a familiar looking face and build?  Was the victim inebriated or out for revenge?  Did this man actually do it?

As I wrote in my last post, the only other time I had jury duty the whole experience was disturbing.  The charges, the pictures, the creeps in the courtroom.  The ironic thing is I had a somewhat easy experience before the trial.  I don't remember feeling like cattle or wasting my entire day trying to stay awake.  I must have been picked in the first round or something.  Anyways, I guess I never admitted to myself how much that first case bothered me.  It took going back to the courthouse for me to remember.  It made me angry (as if you couldn't tell from Part 1).

The idea I could possibly send an innocent man to jail or a guilty man home angered and scared me.  The fact jurors don't seem to have any rights or protection infuriated me.  The way every other juror bent over and accepted this treatment ticked me off.  And worst of all, I already felt like the defendant was guilty just by being there.  Mistaken identity my ass. 

That's when it hit me.  I can't do it, I don't want to do it, so I won't do it.

I said, "No, I already decided this man is guilty, so I do not believe I will give him a fair trial nor am I comfortable having the fate of someone's life in my hands."  Everyone stared at me again.  The prosecutor thanked me for my honesty and both lawyers ignored me for the rest of interviews.  The judge didn't even bother getting my information.

When it was over one of the guards led us out and said we don't have to come back.  I almost hugged him.  I went from being LIVID to being elated.  Manic!

This will be my answer every time I'm selected for a criminal case.  I judged the defendant without knowing him or the evidence.  This was wrong of me. The good news is my quick judgement will not affect his future.  Yes, if he is guilty I could have helped put him away, but there's no guarantee the d.a. had enough evidence.

No thanks, bub.


Jennifer Juniper said...

I'm glad you asked if you could not speak your personal info in front of him. I was about to comment that you should do that in the first post. I'm honestly SHOCKED that he was there.

In my experiences, I do remember the sitting around for hours, etc., etc. One time, we were actually sat there for half a day, they maybe took in a couple people, then just released us. It was ridiculous! (And it was Halloween and I was pissed I missed work, I love to dress up and give out candy at work on Halloween! On the plus side, I was home by 12:30!)

But anyway, all of that I remember, but the one time I was pulled in with others for questioning, the defendant (well, in my cases, they were all lawsuits, so I guess they were the prosecutors? I don't know) was NOT there. I cannot BELIEVE they allowed that!!!

I'm with you, I don't think I could do it. But I am ETERNALLY grateful for those who CAN. We need them for this system to work Although I'm sure there are people like you that made snap judgments but WANTED to be on that case so they could find him guilty... and THAT sucks.

Sigh. It's rough system, but I can't think of anything better... :(

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure they pull from voter registration records. If you don't want to get picked again, just don't register to vote or cancel it if you already are registered.