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  #1  
Old 10-05-2007, 06:52 AM
Mr Shine Mr Shine is offline
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Any way to impove your chance of being picked for Jury Duty?

Looking at this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=439026

and many others about people who want to avoid Jury Duty, I'm wondering if there is anything you can do to make yourself more likely to be picked. I'd like to be on a jury; it would be interesting to see the process first hand and it would give me some time off work with pay. Is there anything you can do to make your name more likely to come up?
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  #2  
Old 10-05-2007, 07:34 AM
OtakuLoki OtakuLoki is offline
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First off, it is likely you can volunteer to be put into the jury pool. Call your local Board of Elections, or the local courts, to ask about that.

Once you're in the jury pool, my understanding is that who will be part of the jury is determined by lot - at least that's how my experience was. So I don't think you can actually finagle your way into an actual jury.
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  #3  
Old 10-05-2007, 07:41 AM
Ruken Ruken is offline
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Don't go to college? It's "common knowledge" that more educated people are more likely to be kicked off by one of the lawyers. Does anyone know if this is actually true?
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  #4  
Old 10-05-2007, 07:48 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruken
Don't go to college? It's "common knowledge" that more educated people are more likely to be kicked off by one of the lawyers. Does anyone know if this is actually true?
I don't think a broad education is considered a liability, but specific knowledge germaine to a case might be because both sides figure your mind is made up from your training and isn't as likely to be influenced by testimony introduced in the trial. In other words, you aren't the blank slate they prefer.

I was picked for a jury to decide if a sex offender was still a threat to society and must be kept under control even though he had served his time. A question posed to each juror was, "How knowledgeable are you about psychology?"

I replied I had 3 college hours in psychology as a minimum bachelor's degree requirement, but it wasn't my major nor my occupation by a long shot. I was retained.
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  #5  
Old 10-05-2007, 07:59 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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I'd like simply to know how to get called. I'm 32, registered to vote since the day I turned 18, and I've gotten a notice twice in all those years - and that was twice in two weeks. Since I couldn't financially spare that much time off, and one day of showing up gets you "off" for a year, I called and disputed the second one and they told me never mind. But still, I want to do it, just not quite that often or quite this infrequently, y'know?

And the day I did go in, I didn't even get called for anything at all. It was less than a week after 9-11, and I had to take the El for the first time, got myself all in a flutter and panic (and, to make my day even more delightful, my husband had kindly packed a 9 inch long ceremonial knife in my bag that I didn't know about. Not intentionally - I had brought the bag to church and he packed my athame for me in a pocket I don't usually use, so I didn't think to check for it. Security was not amused.) and then I just sat around all day in one of the largest target high-rise buildings in Chicago reading a book. Mmmmm....nerve-wracking and boring, my favorite combination!

Still, I do want to do my duty, I think it'd be interesting, I'm a stay at home mom with plenty of contacts for babysitting, so even a multi-day trial wouldn't suck (although a sequestered months long thing would, of course) and I have some but not too much higher education (A.A.). I'd be gold, right? But my numbers won't hit in their lottery.
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  #6  
Old 10-05-2007, 08:01 AM
OneCentStamp OneCentStamp is online now
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And don't forget to register to vote. At least in Maryland where I grew up, jurors were selected from the rolls of registered voters.
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  #7  
Old 10-05-2007, 08:07 AM
Trunk Trunk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Shine
Looking at this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=439026

and many others about people who want to avoid Jury Duty, I'm wondering if there is anything you can do to make yourself more likely to be picked. I'd like to be on a jury; it would be interesting to see the process first hand and it would give me some time off work with pay. Is there anything you can do to make your name more likely to come up?
Are you looking to be on a JURY or just have to serve "Jury Duty"?

Jury duty (for me) is showing up the courthouse with hundreds of other citizens. Then, we get broken into smaller groups of 100 or so, and get sent to a courtroom. There, shit happens, and sometimes you start the voir dire (jury selection) process. Sometimes you don't.

There is probably some city office you can call to make sure you're on the jury duty list. I know people who haven't been called for the 15 years they've lived in Baltimore. Clearly, whatever database jury duty is pulling from doesn't have them in there.

To be selected for a jury, who knows. Probably dependent on the lawyers quick assessment of you (they might know whether you're married, your education level, your job, whether you've been convicted of a crime, and a couple other things.)

I've had jury duty several times. Most times during the voir dire process (the jury selection process), they've filled before they get to me. I've been rejected by defendant's lawyers a couple times. I'm white (seems to be a biggie for some lawyers), and my occupation and education are listed as "engineer" and "masters degree", respectively.
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  #8  
Old 10-05-2007, 08:26 AM
Mr Shine Mr Shine is offline
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Originally Posted by Trunk
Are you looking to be on a JURY or just have to serve "Jury Duty"?
"Jury Duty" really. Though if it were to happen I'd give it my best shot to actually serve on one.
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  #9  
Old 10-05-2007, 09:42 AM
pbbth pbbth is offline
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It just depends on the case and what kind of people they are looking for. I wanted to serve on the jury the one time I was called but the defendant, choosing to represent himself, did not help select the jury at all (whether or not he had a right to do that as his own council I don't know.) He was an attractive man in his early 20's, so when the prosecutor was picking a jury she chose a panel made up entirely of middle aged men. At the time I was a 22 year old woman so I was stuck in the back and actively ignored when she was asking questions of the potential jurors. He kind of shot himself in the foot by not helping to select the jury if he had the option since the attorney made sure to pick the jury she felt would cut him the least amount of slack.
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  #10  
Old 10-05-2007, 10:10 AM
3acresandatruck 3acresandatruck is offline
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Originally Posted by Ruken
Don't go to college? It's "common knowledge" that more educated people are more likely to be kicked off by one of the lawyers. Does anyone know if this is actually true?
Just anecdotal, but that's been my experience. I'm 52, I've been called for jury duty about a dozen times. I actually made it through voire dire only once, at age 20. After I got a BS in math, I never cleared the selection process again. It could just be coincidence...
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Old 10-05-2007, 10:45 AM
Asimovian Asimovian is offline
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I actually mentioned during the voir dire process how much I wanted to be on a jury. I work as a paralegal and have participated in trials from the perspective of being at the defense table, but wanted to see what it was like from the jury's side. Both sides seemed comfortable with that, and the judge was bemused.

Unfortunately, the case involved some potential police misconduct, and one of the questions posed to all of us was whether anyone had had any negative experience with law enforcement. I was honest and said "yes," and off I went.

The defense attorney in the case came up to me later and mentioned how disappointed he was that I'd said anything because he really wanted me on that jury. Which probably proves that the prosecutor made the right call booting me off.
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  #12  
Old 10-05-2007, 10:45 AM
glee glee is offline
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I'm a 54 year old teacher with no criminal record, registered for voting.
I've never been called for jury duty.

All those hours spent watching Perry Mason, Law and Order and CSI are going to waste!
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  #13  
Old 10-05-2007, 10:46 AM
Sarahfeena Sarahfeena is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3acresandatruck
Just anecdotal, but that's been my experience. I'm 52, I've been called for jury duty about a dozen times. I actually made it through voire dire only once, at age 20. After I got a BS in math, I never cleared the selection process again. It could just be coincidence...
Interesting. I have a BS, as well, and it didn't prevent me from being selected to serve on a jury the very first time I was called for duty. The second time I was called, I was not selected, but I think it was actually because I was pregnant. They took one look at me and didn't even ask me any questions, they just dismissed me. I figured it was because it was a drunk driving case...they didn't want any hysterical mommies on the jury.
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  #14  
Old 10-05-2007, 11:37 AM
StuffLikeThatThere StuffLikeThatThere is offline
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Originally Posted by Musicat
I don't think a broad education is considered a liability, but specific knowledge germaine to a case might be because both sides figure your mind is made up from your training and isn't as likely to be influenced by testimony introduced in the trial. In other words, you aren't the blank slate they prefer.
And sometimes you can't figure it out at all.

Last February, I served on a jury that ultimately convicted a crack dealer. I live in a very rural county south of Cleveland.

During the selection process, one of the jurors was asked about his occupation. He'd been a policeman in Cleveland. Had he ever worked in narcotics? Yes, for years. I figured he'd be out of there so fast he wouldn't even get to warm the seat. (As I found out later, he thought the same thing.) But there he sat on the jury after all the dust settled, and he ended up being our foreman. I was glad he was there; he was a font of knowledge about procedure, as well as drugs.

More interestingly (in a Jerry Springer sort of way) was the woman who was originally seated next to me. When they asked if anyone knew of a reason they couldn't serve on the jury, she raised her hand and said, "Yeah, like, the guy who was there in the house and is in the mental hospital now? That's my brother."
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  #15  
Old 10-05-2007, 11:37 AM
Caffeine.addict Caffeine.addict is offline
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A buddy of mine has a graduate degree and was selected to serve on a jury. What's worse is that he served on the same jury as a guy who was a lawyer albeit not a litigator.
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  #16  
Old 10-05-2007, 11:38 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Get on as many government lists as you can, that are not bad ones. The property tax, and voter roles are two lists.
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  #17  
Old 10-05-2007, 11:54 AM
Q.N. Jones Q.N. Jones is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruken
Don't go to college? It's "common knowledge" that more educated people are more likely to be kicked off by one of the lawyers. Does anyone know if this is actually true?
When I was a civil litigator, we were generally hoping and praying for intelligent, educated jurors. We kicked off people who were too uneducated to understand the case or the process. (For example, I remember using a strike to throw off a woman who had served on both civil and criminal juries in the past, but did not know the difference between a civil and a criminal case. Yikes!)

What we generally didn't want were:
-lawyers
-experts in the field the case was about

That was because lawyers and experts tend to have their own ideas about things, regardless of what evidence is presented, and are wild cards in the jury room. They also tend to lead the juries.

But, a general college education was considered a wonderful thing.

I think the supposed theory behind wanting uneducated jurors is that they will be easily led by lawyers and expert witnesses. That theory is woefully out of date. Any reverence that uneducated people had for lawyers and expert witnesses is long gone. In fact, in my limited experience, uneducated jurors also tend to be wild cards, because they don't want to listen to wealthy lawyers and wealthy experts. They also tend to have opinions that are 1) uninformed and 2) not swayed by anything that happens at trial. Post-trial polls revealed strong biases against anyone who appeared to be wealthy and/or educated, whether those people were lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants, or expert witnesses. Uneducated people actually seemed to hate expert witnesses who had impressive credentials as being "too full of themselves" and would listen more to lesser-qualified local expert witnesses than they would to a person at the top of their field with lots of education and experience.

I would take a college-educated person on a civil jury any day. People with less education can be good jurors, but in general, are problematic.
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  #18  
Old 10-05-2007, 12:03 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
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I've never figured it out. I'm 40. I've had a driver's license since I was 16. I've been a registered voter since I was 18. I've been a property tax payer/home owner for 13 years. I'm so average middle class that I'm occasionally tempted to get a purple mohawk just to prove I can.

I've never been called for any kind of jury duty. I too would like to see what it's like.

Last edited by Tastes of Chocolate; 10-05-2007 at 12:03 PM.. Reason: I before E except when trying to spell "just"
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  #19  
Old 10-05-2007, 01:11 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Try loitering outside the courthouse. I'm serious. A friend (please note that for obvious reasons, I'm not going to name names) who works in the U.K. court system tells the tale of some of his colleagues being sent out by the judge to collar passers-by.
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  #20  
Old 10-05-2007, 02:26 PM
Q.N. Jones Q.N. Jones is online now
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Originally Posted by Caffeine.addict
A buddy of mine has a graduate degree and was selected to serve on a jury. What's worse is that he served on the same jury as a guy who was a lawyer albeit not a litigator.
I'm not sure why you think it's a terrible thing that educated people are sitting on juries.
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  #21  
Old 10-05-2007, 02:49 PM
Celyn Celyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz
Try loitering outside the courthouse. I'm serious. A friend (please note that for obvious reasons, I'm not going to name names) who works in the U.K. court system tells the tale of some of his colleagues being sent out by the judge to collar passers-by.
What, really? No, I don't mean to suggest I disbelieve you, as I actually find it quite cute in a way. It's much like the tales of people who want to marry without a fuss, so they just grab a couple of witnesses from whatever passers-by happen to be around.

After all, it still *mostly* fits in with the normal idea of random selection of the adult population, and I expect any person called like that would be subject to the same "many are called but few are chosen" thing as those done by the blindly sticking of pins into the electoral register method, but it just *is* sort of cute and funny. One imagines all sorts of bad happenings in the whatever locality - weather problems leading to complete breakdown of transport thus non-appearance of the predicted pool of potential jurors, unexpected nuclear strike leading to shortage of people and so on. Large percentage of potential juror pool eaten by dragons, that sort of thing.

But the only times I was called, well, the normal way, is "this here letter says you MUST, you simply MUST, turn up (or 'phone giving your reference number to find whether you must, or need not) at the High Court on Monday the nth, otherwise we shall be MOST displeased, and you would not like us when we are displeased, oh no! Otherwise, find a good excuse, like advanced old age or a medical reason, which must be certified by your doctor and sent it to us in official-type writing damn fast."

But, come to think of it, just grabbing potential jurors from the street at least does away with the inability thing, doesn't it? I mean, anyone happily going about their business when grabbed by the keen young court-attendant person is, by definition, not in hospital dying of the Black Death, so that's one objection done away with.

Of course, were I the evil criminal due to be tried, and were I to know of this idiosyncratic system, I might just want to persuade some friends to "happen" to be passing by the court at the appropriate time (Hmmmm .... there is potential. Do we have any Dopers who could write a short comedy based on this whole lovely idea of juror selection the easy way? )

So then, for the O.P. Mr. Shine, perhaps take a day off work and loiter around the court. Take some sandwiches and water/fruit juice, sit around ever so nonchalantly and, you know, just lurk around and see if anyone solicits your services.

Of course, it just might be the local police enquiring as to precisely why you are so determinedly loitering around .....
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  #22  
Old 10-05-2007, 03:01 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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The answer a judge gave us is to be on a jury before. He said that they somehow select people who they know will turn up. It seems to work - I've been called twice in the three years after the first I was on.

In California the calls come from the drivers license rolls and the voting rolls - so if your name is spelled differently on these, you'll have two shots. But it mostly seems random. I lived for 15 years in NJ, voting every year, and never got called once. I got called a few years after moving to California, then once the next four, and then a lot in the last three.

I've never seen any bias on education. People in Silicon Valley used to say engineers would never be selected, for being too logical, but that hasn't been the case.
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  #23  
Old 10-05-2007, 03:42 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
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There's a lot of randomness involved in being called. I've been registered to vote for 31 years and I've been a property owner for 23 years. I've been called once in all that time (about 15 years ago), and made it as far as voire dire. They picked juror #14 just before they got to me, so I went home and haven't been called since.

My father was called four times in one year--and served two of them.
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  #24  
Old 10-05-2007, 04:02 PM
Misnomer Misnomer is offline
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I'm another one who wouldn't mind serving on a jury. I've always been interested in that stuff, even the boring parts. But I'm 36 and have been registered to vote since I was 18, and I've only gotten one jury duty notice -- and when I called the court that morning, I was told that I wasn't needed. So I didn't even get a day off from work.
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  #25  
Old 10-05-2007, 05:17 PM
Sternvogel Sternvogel is offline
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Put the law of supply and demand to work. Find a county that has a small population and high crime rate, and move there. Of course, this will also increase your chances of being in court as a victim, a situation you'd probably just as soon avoid...
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  #26  
Old 10-05-2007, 05:44 PM
EddyTeddyFreddy EddyTeddyFreddy is offline
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I got called several times when I lived in Boston, only a couple of times since I moved out to the semi-boonies. Mostly I sat around the jury pool room and never got taken into a courtroom for empanelment. With two exceptions:

For a civil trial, the judge introduced the lawyers, the parties, and names of some prospective witnesses and asked if we knew them. The plaintiff's name was unusual and it hit me -- I knew how to spell it. The judge gave a brief description of what the case was about and it hit me -- several months before, I'd proofread some pretrial discovery depositions in the case for the court reporters who'd taken them. Oddly enough, when the attorneys learned that fact, neither side wanted me on that jury.

The other case was criminal. We the jury pool were given the usual instructive spiel, waited about, got taken into a courtroom, waited about while the attorneys whispered with the judge at sidebar, got taken back to the jury pool room, waited about, and were finally treated to the judge entering to personally thank us and inform us that the defendant, after taking a good look at the panel of his peers ready to sit in judgment on his case, had chosen to plead guilty.
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  #27  
Old 10-05-2007, 06:07 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is online now
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I've been "called" twice. Once in NC in 1982, and once here (VA), a couple months ago. Dunno why it's taken so long for them to call me - we've lived here since 1989, have a house (property tax), pay income taxes, have drivers' licenses etc. You'd think the pool of qualified jurors would be such that we'd get called a bit more often but I guess not.

In 82 I did my day sitting around waiting then was sent home. This time around, I was torn between wanting to serve, and realizing that medically I really could not (sleep disorder, highly unlikely I could have stayed awake). I wound up not being needed either of my two days.

Typo was called - and actually served for one short trial - in 1995 but until yesterday, never heard from them again. He just got his questionnaire so it's likely he'll get his call some time this winter. Oh - and he's got a PhD and was not booted during that earlier trial.
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  #28  
Old 10-05-2007, 06:15 PM
MaddyStrut MaddyStrut is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sternvogel
Put the law of supply and demand to work. Find a county that has a small population and high crime rate, and move there. Of course, this will also increase your chances of being in court as a victim, a situation you'd probably just as soon avoid...
That would be my answer: live and register to vote in a county where a low percentage of the populations does so but with a lot of court cases. I never get called. My coworkers who live in Baltimore City County get called all the time.
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  #29  
Old 10-05-2007, 11:38 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruken
Don't go to college? It's "common knowledge" that more educated people are more likely to be kicked off by one of the lawyers. Does anyone know if this is actually true?

Simple answer is, "it depends."

If a lawyer intends to present a complicated case, he wants jurors smart enough to understand what he's telling them. On the other hand, the opposing counsel will probably prefer jurors too dumb to understand the arguments.

Crude example: if a prosecutor's case relies heavily on scientific expert testimony and DNA evidence, he'll want jurors bright enough to know what DNA is and smart enough to understand probability. The defense team will want jurors who DON'T understand such things ("DNA, schmee-N-A, that's just a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo!").
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  #30  
Old 10-05-2007, 11:47 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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And bear in mind, MOST court cases are neither exciting nor high profile. Most are pretty mundane affairs.

I've been called for jury duty 3 times, and only served once. The two times I was rejected, it was due to sheer dumb luck: I drew a high number, and they picked almost all of the people who sat in the front two rows!

In each case, the lawyers asked only perfunctory questions, and rejected only one or two people who seemed like utter idiots.

So, in a high profile case with big bucks and/or long jail sentences at stake, lawyers may get extremely selective. But in a more petty case, they'll probably just take the first 12 people in the jury pool, so long as they don't say anything really goofy our outrageous during voir dire.
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  #31  
Old 10-06-2007, 12:04 AM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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I've never been called up yet but I figure that's because this state doesn't have much crime. We rarely average as many as 20 murders a year statewide nor ever have scandals like enron, so how many crimes that involve juries can we possibily have?

Oooo, maybe those folks from Plainsfield who hid out from the government for a few years will go to trial for tax evasion.
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  #32  
Old 10-06-2007, 01:53 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruken
Don't go to college? It's "common knowledge" that more educated people are more likely to be kicked off by one of the lawyers. Does anyone know if this is actually true?
I worked for a criminal defense lawyer that did federal and state cases, and education has never been, to my knowledge, much of a factor in selecting juries. Astorian's explanation sounds pretty reasonable. But, from the cases I've seen tried, ranging from simple to complicated, there seemed to be a wide range of education in the jurors. All of the cases I've seen have had jurors with college degrees, both bachelor's and even master's and Ph.Ds.

My guess is that it's rather unlikely that you would get kicked out for that reason alone, but I'm sure some lawyers may take that into more consideration than the ones I worked for. (I know one lawyer would even ask silly questions like "do you prefer red or blue" as some sort of voodoo insight on one's personality. Whatever.)

Anyhow, the only voir dire I've participated, I got booted off the jury (I would guess because I worked for criminal defense lawyers, or perhaps [more likely] because I had a friend who was a victim of the same crime as that that was being prosecuted. From what I remember, education was not even a question asked in voir dire.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 10-06-2007 at 01:54 AM..
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  #33  
Old 10-06-2007, 08:17 AM
Landshark Landshark is offline
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My understanding is California courts use both registered voters and those who have driver's licenses to select those who are called.

My personal experience is the first time I was called for jury duty was to the Federal court in San Diego, and I was seated as an alternate for a marijuana smuggling & sales case. Though I remained an alternate for the entire trial and thus did not participate in deliberations, I found the parts I was involved in fascinating.

Since then every time I have been called has been to the state court. And without exception each time that I have been included in voir dire I have been dismissed by one of the sides, more often than not with their first peremptory challenge.
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  #34  
Old 10-06-2007, 11:06 AM
Ruken Ruken is offline
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I'm happy to hear that a Ph.D isn't going to keep me off a jury. I certainly don't want to be on one until I finish grad school, I don't want to be excluded after.
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  #35  
Old 10-06-2007, 01:24 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtakuLoki
First off, it is likely you can volunteer to be put into the jury pool. Call your local Board of Elections, or the local courts, to ask about that.
You can't volunteer for jury duty in Wisconsin. I asked. The pool comes from people with drivers licenses (they don't include voter registrations or AFAIK non-DL state IDs). I've received exactly one jury notice ever and wasn't needed. I'm so jealous of people who get called time and again.

ETA: If the OP would divulge his location we'd be able to find the jury pool rules for his state.

Last edited by Otto; 10-06-2007 at 01:25 PM..
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  #36  
Old 10-06-2007, 01:30 PM
Drain Bead Drain Bead is offline
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I sat on a civil jury about...oh, five months after getting my law degree. I was amazed they kept me on, to be honest. I think the fact that I'd only worked in criminal law was the reason they kept me.

In the end, the case was pretty much open-and-shut, to the point that I wondered why it was even tried at all.
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  #37  
Old 10-06-2007, 04:27 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3acresandatruck
Just anecdotal, but that's been my experience. I'm 52, I've been called for jury duty about a dozen times. I actually made it through voire dire only once, at age 20. After I got a BS in math, I never cleared the selection process again. It could just be coincidence...
I've been called about a half-dozen times, but only got on a panel my the last time. Maybe if your advanced education was long enough ago, they don't care anymore.

Also, in California, at least, counsel is allowed significantly fewer exemptions than used to be the case; so I think if you are called you have a better chance of having to actually participate in a trial.
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Old 10-06-2007, 04:28 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Oh yeah, I'm like the OP. I always wanted to do it, and was glad I had the chance.

His Honor had been up so late the night before working on his instructions to the jury, that he fell asleep while reading them to us. Good fun.
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Old 10-06-2007, 04:40 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trunk

I've had jury duty several times. Most times during the voir dire process (the jury selection process), they've filled before they get to me. I've been rejected by defendant's lawyers a couple times. I'm white (seems to be a biggie for some lawyers), and my occupation and education are listed as "engineer" and "masters degree", respectively.
On the trial I was recently in, we had a civil engineer in the pool who was the project manager for one of the L.A. Metro's rail lines...they got rid of him quickly. The case involved a defendant who ran over a victim, twice, in a car. Fortunately it was a very small car so the victim was able to limp away from it. I wonder if they thought the engineer would have influenced the rest of us with special knowledge about the forces involved when a car runs over someone.

I was intentionally vague about my work in IT and perhaps made it sound "lower" than it is, because I wanted to be chosen.
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