Yet again I did not get on a jury even though I wanted to. I saw the pitiful attempts some made to be excused.
Potential juror: “I can’t be fair. I work with kids in gangs.”
Judge: “Oh?! What gangs?”
Pj: “Ummmm . . . I don’t know the exact ones. Bloods. Ummmmm . . . Crips”).
The obviousness was overwhelming.
So it started me thinking as to how hard it would be to get out of serving, or rather, how elaborate do you need to be (Insert reference to that woman who tried to get out of jury duty by dressing up in a Star Fleet uniform). If the defendant is not like me? Would making a comment about niggers, kikes, chinks, cunt, or whatever the appropriate hate-word would be for their ethinicity/sex get an guarantied excusal? What about the good ol’ standby of, “The police would never arrest anyone who was innocent.”
Then again, the defendant needs only one person to vote not guilty while the prosecution needs ALL 12 to vote guilty. On that tack: what about equating police to the Gestapo or saying the governor is worse than Hitler for oppressing the downtrodden.
Would acting crazy work? If I act like my left hand has a mind of its own and occasionally contradicts my answers - would I be shown the door?
What if I claim one of the attorneys or defendants looks familiar to me? I don’t know where I saw them. Maybe it’s just the name but I swear that something is ringing a bell in the recesses of my brain.
I’m with the OP. I never got chosen, and was always a little disappointed. It’s as if the court was saying to me, “We don’t need you for this. Back to the office with you.” Then last time around I did get seated, and it was an interesting experience. About what I thought it would be.
Judges are used to shirkers trying to avoid one of the FEW civic duties we have. That said, make it clear to one side or the other that you will not be a fair and honest juror and they will send you packing. I have known judges to send honest people home but if they think you are BSing to get out of jury duty I have seen them make people stay all day getting kicked from one jury after another.
From my own experience I’ve found that the defense team has a bias against potential jurors who are very logical or analytical. I always just say that I will sift through all the evidence logically, no matter how technical it may be. I will not be swayed by emotion or personal bias. Then I get dismissed. I have friends who tell me they would just make some obviously prejudicial comment and are gone quickly. So it’s not hard to get out of serving, but it’s not easy to get selected either.
It’s an academic question. He would like to serve, but for reasons unknown was not selected. Nevertheless, having seen some bungling attempts to avoid serving, he’s curious about how one would effectively go about deliberately not getting chosen.
When we have an innocent client we try to keep the logical and analytical jurors. It does happen, occasionally. It’s not so much a bais against the logical and analylical it’s more a bias for getting a fair trial for the client. Sometimes a case is about justice, like when the state is trying to send someone to prison for stealing a piece of bread when they were hungry. Then we don’t look for logical we look for fair minded people. People who will balance the equities. I will admit that some attorneys try to baffle the jury with bullshit, but that goes for both sides. Prosecutors have a saying, when the law supports the defendant hammer the facts, when the facts support the the defendant hammer the law, when the facts and the law support the defendant hammer the defendant. People need to keep in mind that prosecutors are just as likely to lose sight of justice and try to win a case for the sake of winning and let justice be damned. The difference is when a prosecutor does it, sometimes innocent people go to jail.
I am not suggesting this for use by others, as saying this during voir dire if it isn’t true for you would technically be lying under oath, I suppose, but I was fortunate enough to be among the pool of prospective jurors for a case once that involved an attorney I knew something unpleasant about, and when the judge asked if there was anyone who felt they could not be impartial, I raised my hand and said “I have knowledge of [pointing] that attorney’s conduct in an unrelated case which makes me unable to be impartial in any case involving him.” I was dismissed before the echo of my own words had died out, and no one wanted details. Even if they had, judging from the extremely guilty look on the attorney’s face, I’m willing to bet he’d have found some way to keep me quiet.
This had the added benefit of making it sound (ever so slightly) like I was accusing him of improper conduct, which he deserved, frankly.
I had jury duty recently, and I did get picked despite having a job that everyone said would disqualify me. I even knew the investigating cop through work, which should have been a guaranteed challenge for cause by the defense. I was kept, I think, because the alleged victim was a child, and I was one of the only potential jurors without kids. I was also open about wanting to serve, which I think actually helped me. It was an interesting case, but it was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I won’t be quite so eager to be picked next time. I should start a thread about it, but I’m not sure how much time I want to spend writing about it.
One thing to keep in mind is that several times the number of jurors needed were called. Most people didn’t get picked just by chance. That makes it pretty hard to tell which excuses “worked” and which didn’t. Everyone who had an excuse seemed pretty sincere about it–no one was obviously shirking. I think most people who expressed some bias or conflict of interest were excused pretty easily. I’m pretty sure I could have gotten out just by saying that I was friends with the cop and likely to believe him, rather than saying that I could be impartial. It was pretty obvious that who gets picked in any given case will depend not only on the particulars of that case and on the whims of the attorneys but probably on who else has been called. If more potential jurors had been childless, I think I’d have been dismissed.
So a person who might not know he has a skeevy attorney but has an otherwise valid complaint does not deserve a fair trial? Even though he has not had the opportunity to see what you did and all he has to go on is what his attorney tells him. I am sure the attorney did not tell him “I am an unethical sack of shit”. I guess it is too much to expect jurors to hear the case before them and weigh the evidence presented.
Since I wanted on the jury, when they asked me what I did for a living I just said I was in IT support. They probably though I was the guy who wheels the hand truck around the office replacing people’s monitors. Actually my official job title is Programmer Analyst and my “descriptive” title is Application Support Analyst.
In other words I was trying to soft peddle my job and professional experience, and it worked.
I’ve never been called for jury duty but my father-in-law seemingly gets the call every six months. He’s served, happily and willingly (as an immigrant for Eastern Europe he’s very proud to do his civic duty) , but when asked he makes it plain that he thinks if the defendant is on trial, he/she is almost always guilty, and that if it were up to him, most offenses starting with vandalism on up would be dealt with much more harshly than they are now. He says it usually scares off the defense attorneys while the prosecutors are dying to have him stay.
And yeah, I know some of that is contradictory (wants to do civic duty, but he presumes the guilt of the accused) but thats in-laws for you.
I got called for jury duty last year, went through the whole selection process and ended up being chosen for a second-degree murder trial.
Questions we were asked included:
What television shows do you like to watch? (Most popular responses from both men and women were CSI, Survivor and Oprah.)
What do you like to do in your free time?
What do you do for a living?
Do you recognize or know any of the defendants, attorneys, etc.?
Have you ever been the victim of a crime? (burglary, mugging, etc. were all mentioned)
If yes, would that affect your ability to be impartial? (or something to that effect)
It’s been a while but I think all the people who’d said they were the victims of a crime were dismissed. The crackpot who said she had Mob connections in her family was also dismissed.
In all, it was an interesting and depressing experience. And the food was absolutely terrible, a special institutional kind of terrible. After the first day most everyone brought a lunch.
Neither side wants particularly independent thinkers, since they might see flaws in the case that aren’t point out by the opposing lawyer.
I’ve been called a couple of times (and will be doing it in a couple of weeks), but I’ve never been chosen. Partly that was just the luck of the draw (my name wasn’t called), but the time I was actually interviewed, the fact that I was a writer seemed to be grounds for disqualification.
If I were represented by an attorney who I just discovered was unethical, I’d want a new one. I’d hope that would be adequate grounds for asking for a delay. For instance, if you were represented by the lawyer who fell asleep during that murder case in Texas, wouldn’t you appreciate knowing - even if it came indirectly from a juror.
Or perhaps I’m naive in thinking that an ethical attorney could represent me better.
As for the OP, one potential juror in a case I was on suddenly stopped understanding and speaking English. The judge dismissed her, but he was not pleased.