Can blind people serve on jury duty?

So I saw a really horrible movie that I won’t even mention the title of for fear an innocent victim may accidentally go and see it. In said atrocity, a blind person served on a jury, and it was questioned whether this was allowed, but claimed that it was. I had never questioned it myself, but now I do wonder.

On the one hand, blind people should be entitled (if ‘entitled’ is the right word for the delight of jury duty) to everything sighted people should be. But on the other hand, it seems reasonable that blind people can’t appreciate visual evidence. All the fairness in the world won’t entitle the non-sighted to drivers licenses.

Speaking of driving, I believe jurors are mainly selected from drivers license records, so it’s likely the blind aren’t in the normal draft pool, but what if they volunteered? This is a hypothetical question after all.

I was on a jury in a civilcase where one of the jurors was (probebly still is ;)) blind. She even brought her pooch. I can’t think of any real reason why it would be a problem. Important visual evidence can be described.
The lawyers, for whatever reason might not seat a blind person, though. Especially prosecutors, I would think.

If we are thinking of the same movie, which I have good reason to believe we are, I don’t think it was that bad. I was dissapointed by how far it deviated from the book, but the movie itself wasn’t too bad. Being barely legal for jury duty, I unfortunately have nothing to add to the discussion, besides my thoughts on the movie… hey, it’s my first time, go easy…

In the book based off the truly horrible movie you saw, yes, blind people can serve on juries. However, sometimes accomodations have to be made (detailed descriptions of the exhibits so the blind person can “see” them, etc.).

I normally wouldn’t use a fictional book as an example to answer your question, but that book was written by a lawyer who doesn’t get his legal facts messed up.

And I agree, that movie was truly horrible. Heartbreaking. Criminal! I wanted to cry at the hack job they did with the book! I’ll never forgive the author for selling the rights!

Jury pools are also picked by voter registration rolls and tax rolls, which blind people certainly appear on, thus why someone blind could very well be called for jury duty.

We’d actually like to KNOW the name of this sucky movie.

…so we won’t accidentally go see it.

Here is a presumably true story about a blind juror.

I think it has Gene Hackman and John Cusak in it. But I liked the movie, if it’s the same one discussed above… Sometimes it does not take much to entertain me. :slight_smile: :dubious:

Can blind people exempt themselves from jury duty?

If they’re a blind lawyer or blind judge I think they’re automatically exempt.

Great question. I think a blind person should be in the jury pool and leave it to the attorneys to determine if they should be excused for cause by the court. Attorneys (at least in Minnesota) could also use one of their peremptory strikes and remove them from the panel. Exhibits can certainly be explained to the blind person. An important part of the jury evidence though comes from the witness on the stand. The blind juror will not see the witness’ body language, are they sweating, trembling, making eye contact, how they are dressed, etc. Those factors add to the credibility of the witness and the blind person would not have those inputs. Remember the Kennedy/Nixon debates of 1960? Those that watched on TV thought Kennedy did better. Those that listened on radio thought Nixon did better.

“Can blind people exempt themselves from jury duty?”

Sure can as along as they have the right reason. Reasons are stated on the form you get in the mail when you are called for duty.

Blind people have to find transportation as they cannot drive a vehicle. as far as I can tell there is no exemption for blind people on the jury registration form in Hurst Texas. I agree that once they (the lawyers) know you’re blind they probably will not pick you for a jury pool which seems a bit discriminatory in both respects to me.

I am blind and have just received a notification for Hurst Texas I don’t have a driver’s license and therefore in Hurst apparently they pick you using other criteria then a driver’s license. I wouldn’t necessarily mind serving on a jury except that I have to pay a driver to drive me to the courthouse As Hurst has no public transportation.

I think being deaf though is different because they would need an interpreter and there could always be bias.

zombie or no

i can see the difficulty.

I think they’re more likely to use lists of registered voters to select jurors than drivers’ licenses.

Broomstick, you reminded me of a famous case involving James E. Hannon, a blind judge in Stockbridge, MA, and 27 8x10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence.

In fairness to the defense, a suspect is entitled to a jury of his peers, which means a jury of people whose vantage point of the world is essentially of the same order. Supposing, for example, a witness argued that she was able to discern a shade of color, or able to recognize someone from a certain distance, or conversely, to be unable to do so because of light conditions. A blind juror would be unable to fairly evaluate that testimony experientially. Furthermore, jurors are called upon to judge the reliability of a witness, with body language playing a part in that evaluation.

If I were a defense attorney defending an accused that I thought was actually innocent, I’d get rid of any blind jurors in peremptory.

“A typical case of blind justice…”

Peers doesn’t mean that. It’s a leftover from the times when the king could arbitrary pass sentence. A jury of peers first meant trial by other nobles, i.e. peers of the realm, and then gradually evolved to mean a jury filled with those of the same rank, which for non-nobles would be common citizens. It has never meant “people who are exactly like you” or anything close.

Today it’s more of a saying than a law. It’s not in the Constitution, although most people think it is. The Sixth Amendment calls for an impartial jury. That’s where charges of discrimination are based, on the supposition that, say, an all-white jury could not be impartial against a, say, black defendant.

This varies state to state. In Texas they do use voter registration lists (they may use other sources as well, that I don’t know). In Oklahoma, voter registration is not used and some other method is used to generate the pool.

But the description could be biased. “The black man is hostile, aggressive and up to no good, like you’d expect from a gangster.”
Sure, the opposing attorney would object, but how would the blind juror know who to believe?