Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not Guilty

Well, I got out of Jury Duty. I admit, there was/is a small part of me that wishes that I had stayed but the bottom line was that I just couldn't afford it. Turns out the trial that I was called for was some sort of criminal trial (I didn't get any details) and it was scheduled to last 8-9 days. So even if they stayed to the estimated time, I'd be out of work almost 2 weeks! I can't afford to do that. So, it was a fairly easy process to be excused. As a matter of fact, it was kinda funny... The woman gave all of us Juror's (yes, once you check in, you are considered a Juror) a sort of crash course in what a juror is expected to do. After this talk, she said "anyone who has a schedule conflict due to this being an extended trial, please see me in the back." Well, I was on the fence at this point. I didn't know if my being "self employed" meant that I had a legitimate excuse. I figured I would mention it in front of the judge and see what he said. But during the break, I was standing in the back of the room, when a guy next to me pulled the "jury woman" (I don't remember her official title) aside and started to ask her some of the exact same questions that I had. Self-employed, 8-9 days with no pay, etc... So at this point I spoke up and basically said "me too". She took both of our names, then about 10 minutes later, she called us both and said we were excused. Woohoo! I was a little surprised that they didn't even ask any sort of questions like "what do you do for a living" or anything. But, the bottom line (which she mentioned) was that if the trial went on for a length of time that we were uncomfortable with, it would not be fair to the defendant to have a jury member sitting there wishing the trial would just be over and getting frustrated. So, it all worked out for the best I'm sure. Funny thing too... both that guy and myself have the exact same job.
As I mentioned before... I'm also a bit relieved in the sense that I don't necessarily feel comfortable judging another person's actions and having the fate of his/her life in my hands. I'd probably stand up at the end of the trial and say "Your Honor? Can't the defendant just apologize and we can all go home?"
I did get the chance to read the questionnaire though... and chances are good that I may have been excused based on those... I had a real good friend back about 15 years ago who was a police officer and sheriff. I don't know if there is a time period on what they consider a good friend though. We just sort of drifted apart and our lives went a different direction. I also have a distant relationship in my extended family who is a police officer too. So because of that I may have been excused.
AND... There was one question that really bothered me the way it was worded...
"Generally speaking, do you consider a police officer MORE likely to tell the truth or LESS likely?" what? that's a loaded question if I ever heard one. What happened to "equally"?
I don't believe a person becomes more likely to tell the truth because he is wearing a uniform or wears a gun on his belt. I also don't consider them less likely either. I would like to believe that each person has an equal ability to lie and or tell the truth, regardless of their job.
One other comment... I thought "what are the odds"... I recognized a guy there that I knew from my old church of wow... maybe 20+ years ago! He really looked the same. He looked at me, and there was no sign of recognition, nor would I expect him to recognize me. I've changed a lot since then. But, I have to wonder... what are the odds of knowing someone also called for Jury Duty.
A few side notes:
I only saw 2 black people in all of the potential jurors (I'm gonna guess about 100 people).
I saw one Asian.
I saw 3-4 Hispanics.
I saw one Biker dude... had on jeans (as did I, several guys had jeans on), a T-shirt for a local biker club, and tattoos, and long hair braided in the back. (I overheard him say he knew someone on the list of witnesses, and defendants... I wonder if he knew the guy on trial?)
Everyone else was white, and I'd guess the average age to be about 45 and up.
At one point about 15-20 people raised their hands to say that they were state employees! That was almost 20%! That surprised me.

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