Anyone been on a jury for a murder trial?

I was in the jury pool today for a guy who is charged with 5 murders but I was not picked. They selected 1/2 of the pool to come back later for more questions.

If you were on a jury for a murder trial what was it like? Probably a lot different than TV.

I remember that a poster from here in SLC (FatBaldGuy?) said that he was recently on the jury of a pretty infamous local murder trial.

BTW , this guy was charged with 5 murders at different times as part of robberies, not 5 killings at 1 time.

OP wants shared experiences. Moved to IMHO from GQ

samclem, Moderator, GQ

I thought I was looking for facts, but I guess it’s not a big deal where it ends up.

I was selected to sit on a jury in Judge Lance Ito’s court late last year. One count of murder and another count of attempted murder, as well as felony evasion and possession of a handgun.

Although the proceedings were not as dramatic as a TV case, I was surprised that some things did hold over. For example, the attorney for the defense would say things or ask witnesses a question, knowing that the prosecutor would object and the question/statement would be withdrawn. We (the jury) thought that was pretty shady, but also understood why he was doing that - to enhance any feelings of reasonable doubt.

Overall though, the case went by pretty smoothly and at a leisurely pace. It took 2 weeks from start of jury duty to reaching a verdict. I loved the short 9 - 4 days, and the chance to walk around to the different districts in downtown LA for lunch.

If you have any specific questions that I can help with, I’d be happy to answer.

Did you answer a lot of questions to get on the jury?

The jury pool members today had to fill out a long questionnaire. I knew when I saw that paperwork that it must be a big case.

I realized I would not have been on this case since I am against the death penalty.

Here is the case info

A few years ago. Gang related. Not fun, but someone’s got to do it.

I think we were told early on that this had no chance for the death penalty. We had to answer the standard group of questions, but nothing excessive. As it was, there were a fair number of people who really didn’t want to be on the jury, so the judge and lawyers had to take some effort to weed through the faint of heart. I doubt that there’s much they can do or want to do if a juror candidate swears that there’s absolutely no chance that he can be impartial.

On the whole, not too bad. Testimony only took a week, maybe. A lot of testimony on the stand that amounted to “I didn’t see anything” - said testimony completely contradicting previous statements to the police during prior, um, office visits. There was no question about whether the witnesses were lying, the only question was just when and how they were lying.

I learned things about gangs that I didn’t really want to learn. No really gruesome evidence, thank goodness.

One morbid absurdity: two of the witnesses testified - on separate days - that they really, really cared for the victim. They wept as they held his head while he lay dying. Touching, but a pretty crowded scene there, seems like.

We took a day or so to deliberate because we didn’t want to gloss over anything – we were a good team. Otherwise, too much evidence against the defendant, too many holes in the defense testimony. And that was that. We weren’t part of the sentencing phase, but we found the defendant guilty of three felonies, and (this being California) we knew the sentence, pending any appeals. Justice or not, I don’t think any of us took much satisfaction in putting a young man away for life. Still, we did what we had to do.

I guess I’d do it again, but with no enthusiasm.

No, we didn’t have to answer a lot of questions. We didn’t have to fill anything out, but had to orally answer several questions including:

Area of Residence
Whether you have been convicted of a felony
Have you or anyone you know been a victim of a crime

In addition, the lawyers asked us additional questions about how we felt about the police, how we feel about the person standing trial (i.e., have we already judged his guilt or innocence), how we feel about the nature of the alleged crimes, etc. Each prospective juror talked for about 5 - 10 mins, and it took about 2 days total for the court to select the jury members. This part was a bit tedious, as you had to hear the answers to the same questions over and over, as well as everyone’s excuse to try to get out of serving.

I have filled out a loooong questionnaire twice, but for some reason, I am always excused. :p(I am sort of in law enforcement)

The murder trial had a lot of questions, which you MUST answer- where you went o school, friends in PD, where you worked, relatives, and so forth. I would have been scared letting the lawyer of a accused gang killer get ahold of that info if I had family.

Not sure if jury questionnaires are common or not but I was not shocked to see some people fill it out. I assume this guy is getting 2 state paid lawyers as that is standard here for murder trials.

I almost was on another jury today but the guy reached a plea deal, the judge told us he would serve time but did not tell us what the crime was. It’s possible that was also a murder case.

I was on the jury for a murder trial last summer in which the defendant beating his girlfriend and her mother to death with a hammer. He had confessed to the police and shown them where he hid the murder weapon. The defendant plead insanity (not much choice, really). Our job was to determine if he was legally insane or not, and if not, whether he should be found guilty of first or second degree murder for each victim.

There were a lot of questions for the potential jurors and we had to fill out a short form. As mentioned by another poster, the selection process is a bit tedious but not all that bad. The judge explained what the case was about to the pool and told us that we would be seeing some potentially disturbing photos and that anyone who thought that they couldn’t deal with that would be released.

The trial was pretty interesting and lasted about 2 weeks. Our deliberation lasted about 4 hours I think. Most of our deliberation was spent on determining whether the mother’s murder was first or second degree.

Here is the thread I started at the time.

Thanks for the link, FatBaldGuy - that was very, very interesting. Thank you also for your service to the process of justice.

I prosecuted a few murder cases, back in the day, and have presided over several civil trials as a magistrate, but have never been a juror for any case at all. I’d actually love to, someday.

I was an alternate juror on a murder trial in Oakland, California about ten years ago. I sat through the whole trial but never participated in the deliberations. The whole thing lasted about three weeks.

Should’ve made clear, those were all jury trials. Hence my frustration with never having been on a jury myself.

The judge told us he had never been called for jury duty but he would serve if called. He added he doubted the lawyers would let him serve. He said when he was a prosecutor he did not want lawyers on the jury.

Elendil’s Heir, can you even serve? From what I recall, you are a magistrate, which I would think would get struck off the case even if summoned for jury duty.

I just got summoned for jury duty, and am wondering what will happen. I am a practicing attorney, and personally wouldn’t want an attorney sitting on my jury.

Ohio changed its rules a few years ago and eliminated a lot of the old automatic exemptions. Now lawyers can and do serve on juries; judges and magistrates can, too. One judge I know, who has a reputation for being a raging liberal, served on a criminal jury that convicted a guy of drug dealing (the prosecutor who let him stay on the jury took a lot of heat from his buddies for taking that risk). Judges, magistrates and lawyers are usually given cautionary instructions to not dominate the jury deliberations or instruct their fellow jurors on the law.

Incidentally, foremen or forewomen are picked in Ohio by their fellow jurors in whatever manner they wish. My MIL recently served on a Vermont jury, though, and she said the judge personally picked the foreman for no discernable reason.

That’s what the judge told us - a lawyer on the jury would dominate the discussion too much so he did not want them on a jury.