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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Monday, January 24, 2005

Jury Duty

I took the day off from field ed at Trinity today, having been summoned by the clerk of our county court to Do My Civic Duty. I was not alone; there were more than two hundred people in the auditorium, filling out forms and waiting patiently to see who would be called. There were juries being empaneled for several trials today, both civil and criminal. However, mine was not among the nearly 150 names eventually called to move to a courtroom for consideration and possible inclusion on a jury. I spent the morning waiting-- eating a doughnut from the available supply, and reading church history-- but apparently they did not need Juror #57 this time.

I'm mostly grateful, because goodness knows I have plenty else I can be doing; but one of these days, I think I'd like to do that. How do you feel about the idea of serving-- Doing Your Civic Duty?


Blogger Reverend Ref + said...

I did a stint on jury duty back in Spokane once. Twice, actually. The first time I was never called during my week. The second time, however, I sat on two trials. One was a municipal case and the other was a state case. Rather interesting, actually.

The municipal case was a drunk driver and it was pretty much a slam dunk. The state case was a narcotics case, and it was "interesting." A guy had been picked up while riding in a car and a small amount of drugs were found. I think he would have gotten off had his lawyer not put him on the stand; he was not entirely believable. The post-trial debriefing with the judge was interesting. We heard some information that we didn't during the trial. That information caused me to think that maybe we handed out the wrong verdict. I still think about that to this day.

The long and short of it is, Yes, it's worth it to sit on a jury; but don't participate in a post-trial debriefing -- it'll mess with your head.

January 24, 2005 2:39 PM  

Blogger Dawgdays said...

I've been called for jury duty four times. The fourth was only seven months separated from the third, so I begged off.

I've left without being called. I've been questioned but not selected. I've been seated on a jury where the case was plea-bargained after one witness was called.

But mostly, I sat around and read.

I think it would be interesting to actually deliberate a case, but for a quick trial, please.

I thought about jury service a couple weeks ago. I thought it would be cool if the courthouse had wi-fi.

January 24, 2005 2:41 PM  

Blogger Karen said...

I feel ya, sister. I have to report tomorrow for jury duty at the superior court. I was supposed to start a week-long intersession class but now that plan is shot.

I actually sat on a jury about 10 years ago. It was a drug case; very interesting when the lawyers weren't using delaying tactics and calling for recesses. I got a lot of reading done.

January 24, 2005 5:36 PM  

Blogger Ryan said...

So far in my life I've managed to get out of all jury duty calls as I can truthfully claim I am a full time student residing out of state. Of course, as soon as I say that, I'll be pegged for a federal case...


January 24, 2005 9:58 PM  

Blogger David said...

I got you all beat. Summoned for jury duty on the FIRST day of a circuit court 6 month "session" is bad news. That's when (at least in Mississippi) they randomly draw 18 names out - those folks become the Grand Jury. There I was minding my own business when lucky number 18 was ME. 6 months on the Grand Jury handing down indictments, visiting schools and gov. officials, etc. We met for 3 or 4 days straight, then after that just every now and then for indictments. Then we did committee reports (I investigated all those nasty elected county officials) that are presented in the official GJ report to the judge.
Then 18 months later - you guessed it. I was summoned again and again it was GJ selection day and AGAIN I was 18th person picked! I asked the Judge if I could be excused and just allowed to be in the regular jury pool, he said no, there was "no restriction for how often you serve....and since you just did it, why don't I make your FOREMAN". Sigh
Lot of time but some very eye opening stuff for me. It was worth it.

January 26, 2005 12:59 PM  

Blogger Mark said...

I have never served on a jury, but have always (and still) would like to experience it at least once. My fellow clergy all seem disinclined, as they are full of advice about wearing your collar on selection day and such in order to "get out" of the duty. I think I would go in "civvies," but be honest about my beliefs about things like the death penalty (no matter what I will never vote for it, period).

Some would say that sitting on a jury makes one complicit in a corrupt system. I'm not so sure about that, but it does seem that while you can't change the system from a jury bench you can at least try to help it work well in that one particular instance.

January 27, 2005 9:35 AM  

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