Jury Duty

I’ve been called for jury duty next month. I’m kind of excited about it. Of course, it will probably not be very exciting, since it municipal court. I haven’t heard of too many high profile cases being heard there.

Tell me about your most exciting jury duty.

Never served, probably never will. I’ve been called twice, once when I lived overseas and again a few months ago. This most recent one they ended up with more than enough people, so I didn’t even sit on a venire panel. There’s a good chance I’d have been cut anyway - as the old joke goes, lawyers and mental defectives are the only ones automatically exempt from jury duty. The local DA’s tell me they’d trust me to be fair and wouldn’t cut me, but even then there’s a good chance they’ve discussed the case with me in passing and disqualified me.

I was called but the case was settled before the trial started. Nothing to add except I too was excited about it. Jury duty and voting are both a rush for me. I hope you get an interesting case!

Eh, two DUIs. Let both of them go.

I’ve been called for Jury Duty early next month. Civil court. I’m kind of hoping for an ugly divorce case. Or a huge civil suit. Something juicy.

When I was summoned, you simply became part of a jury “pool” and the lawyers for the cases being tried got to question each potential juror and possibly strike you from the jury. I got struck from every case during that week. Even after getting struck, you have to wait around all day in the event another case comes to trial. Long, long, long week. Those that were struck did get to sit in on other cases, however, and family court had some real zinger cases.

I made it up to the final juror selection for a capital murder case. I never got called to be one of the 14 or 15 under scrutiny, luckily enough.

The most exciting real one was a pretty open and shut wife battering case. The exciting part was that I was the foreman, and I learned things afterwards to show our decision was correct. It was only a few minutes from home, afternoons only and didn’t take too long, which was a good starter.

A burglary (or maybe it was a B&E) in Seattle in the 70’s. The evidence against the defendant was that he was in the neighborhood at the time of the event, and the cop said the shoes he was wearing were similar to a shoe print on the door of the burgled place.

I didn’t think that was enough evidence, but the defendant’s attorney offered no defense. The defendant said “It wasn’t me” – that was it. I was the lone holdout for not guilty for a couple of hours, and then I caved.

I served last month, it was the first time I’ve ever actually been on a jury and it was fun in its own way.

I was called in on 9/11 of this year so we all sat in the jury room until about noon waiting for something to happen. The Queens County jury room is not too bad, you are allowed to bring in computers, cellphones and food and drink, they have wireless access + about a dozen computer terminals with internet access. Then they called a couple of panels and my name came up.

So about 25 of us went into a little room that looked like a small classroom where we met 2 very young lawyers…one of them looked like a 20something George Bush which became an “inside jury joke” the next day and they called up 6 people, not me. They did not ask nearly as many questions of the jurors as I was used to, mostly they wanted to be sure you spoke English and didn’t know anyone involved on the case. They dismissed an elderly Greek woman that didn’t speak much English and a really obnoxious Israeli guy and kept the other 4. Then they called up 2 more people and took both of them. I thought I was safe …it’s a 6 person civil trial …then I remembered alternates. They called me up with one other person and accepted us both.

We had gotten a little bit of a clue as to what the case was about. A homeless veteran had been mugged at a homeless shelter run by the Salvation Army and he was suing the Salvation Army for his injuries.

We were told that we might not even be hearing about the injuries as the way it works in New York is that there is one trial to determine liability and a second trial, if required, for damages.

Then we were sworn in and sent home with instructions to come back the next morning. All day, we were promised that this would be a short trial.

I soon made some deductions myself. I figured that this plaintiff had probably been a real pain in the ass for a long time now and maybe he was mentally unstable to boot, and that was why this case had never been settled.

And the defense attorneys probably knew it was a dog, it was the defense attorney’s first trial EVER … they didn’t tell us that until it was over but I had guessed as much.

The jury w/ alternates consisted of
an older black woman from the deep South
an Irish schoolteacher
a Malaysian high school athletic coach
a young Greek-American female grad student
An older black woman from Trinidad that worked for a city agency
a Hispanic baggage Handler-male
a Polish electrican-male

Several of these folks were impressed that my grandparents had all been born in this country.Queens is a diverse place.

Anyway, we heard all the different accounts of how this fight occurred and there were really a lot of factors to consider. We got sent back to our little room several times…during one of those times they bought us lunch menus and we had food waiting the next time they sent us back to our room. Good food, too…and the court officers were all really nice and cordial and stopped by frequently to hang out with us. It was harder than you might think NOT to talk about the trial.

Then the testimony finished, by now I was bummed that I couldn’t deliberate( being an alternate). They let me and the other alternate wait in a separate room during the deliberations - where we discussed the case, we both exonerated the Salvation Army.

As did the jury. It took 40 minutes. The grad student actually wanted to assess them some liabilty but they changed her mind so they could go in unanimously ( 5 out of 6 would’ve been enough).

Analyzing the events was an interesting process. One thing I did not expect was dealing with all the questions that weren’t answered.

For example, the plaintiff the nasty drunk claimed the Salvation Army was responsible for security outside of the shelter while the defense claimed that the city police were responsible. Even though that question has a simple factual answer, I’m sure…we never got it.

I choose to believe the defense because the police response to the mugging was so immediate…and the guy got medical care, the police caught the mugger and convicted him and ran some sort of intervention/mediation that had him (the homeless guy, not the mugger) moving in with his family the next day. To me this sug gested that the outside of the shelter is heavily patrolled by city cops trained to deal with the homeless.

But I never got to deliberate. I did get to talk to the jury at length afterwards and their verdict seemed heavily based on sympathy towards the Salvation Army and charity in general, which did not really figure into my thought process.

it was actually a fun couple of days, if I had one of those jobs where you get paid tfor jury duty and someone else handles your work while your’re away I would volunteer. The Irish schoolteacher in my group went down to the office to volunteer for more days but I don’t know if they gave her any. The worst would be having to go in for multiple days without getting out of the big room but I think in Queens they send you home after a day ( or maybe two) if you don’t get picked.

First off, should you make it to the actual box, and sit through the trial, be prepared to be disappointed in your “peers” - your fellow jurors. Not only has it been my experience, but also the experience of friends who’ve sat on juries to be severly disappointed.

Although I’ve been picked to go up into the box a couple times, I’ve only actually sat on a jury for one case. I think it was a great experience, and something everyone should do (if for no other reason to convince them that, should they ever have to go to trial, to never have a trial by jury ;-).

But on my one case, I found myself in the “Henry Fonda” role of being the sole dissenter and standing my ground. These same “peers”, who, a mere week before had very sincerely stated how honest and fair jurors they would be, were saying things like “I just know he’s guilty. They just didn’t prove it.” I was stunned and blown away.

I ended up getting so frustrated with the chaotic “debates” that broke out, I just clammed up and watched. Finally the foreman singled me out as not having said much, so I then spoke my peace. I reminded everyone of the instructions the judge had given us, and by those instructions how it was that I could not vote “guilty.” This led to a bunch of "oh yeah"s, and people started to consider what they were supposed to be doing.
We came close to being “hung”. We kind of ran out of time, and the vote was not unanimous. But after again reviewing the evidence and repeating the instructions, the final “guilty” votes changed their minds. We ended up declaring “not quilty”.

A number of the jurors were very interested in what the judge thought, and hung out after the trial was dismissed. When asked, the judge told us he thought he was guilty. But he also told us that while we were deliberating, the DA offered a deal to a lesser charge. And the defendent adamantly refused and insisted he was innocent.

One thing we all (all the jurors) agreed on was that the DA didn’t do a very good job presenting the case. And it was this sense of “he really did do it, but they didn’t show it” that kind of controlled the jurors’ minds. I agreed that the DA didn’t do a very good job, but that was what we had to work with.


I have a wealthy Park Ave lawyer as a client and he told me he always gets put on juries and usually ends up being foreman.

I’ll never get to serve on a jury because 30+ years ago, I was a cop.

I keep getting called and have to go downtown and waste a day. Annoying as hell.

I’ve been called, but never ended up serving. Once I got to the part where potential jurors were being questioned by the lawyers, but a jury was selected before they got around to me. It would have been an involuntary manslaughter case, self defense in a domestic violence situation.

I have served on a federal grand jury, but that’s entirely different. You are only deciding if there will be a trial, not guilt or innocence. Most of the cases involved guns or drugs, or guns and drugs. But there was one rather complicated multistate bankruptcy case, and one case of sexual harrassment. The latter was federal because it happened on a military base, and involved alleged inapproptiate touching of a male teacher on two female junior high students.

I have observed a trial in which the accused, a good friend, was on trial for first degree murder. The friend was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and recieved probation. You’d think a trial like that would be gripping all through, but surprisingly, some parts were boring.

I was recently on the grand jury for my county. It was a 6-month, every-other-Wednesday duty. They always had great donuts - and I found out where they bought them.

Anyway, as grand jurors, we were required to determine if there was sufficient evidence to send the case to trial. Period. In fact, the first day, the head honcho from the State’s Attorneys office explained this in minute detail. He also explained that real life is not like CSI or Law & Order.

We could ask questions of the lawyers, the police officers, and the witnesses (although there were very few of them.) After the cases were presented, we could discuss if we wanted, but mostly we just voted. Majority ruled. It was pretty cut and dried.

Thank goodness for majority rule, because we had one idiot woman who was trying all of the cases. She’d figure out alibis and excuses for the accused. Plus she was just stupid. There was another zinger - a barely-out-of-her-teens girl who literally slept thru the entire evolution.

These two aside, it was a fascinating experience. Also terrifying to learn how scummy some of the people around here are. But I’m glad I got the opportunity.

I’ve served on a jury only once. It was a rather dull civil action, in which the plaintiff was suing his employer for negligence. There were only four of us on the jury. By lunchtime on the first day we had all decided that the plaintiff was lying through his teeth. The parties reached a settlement a few days later and we were never required to give a verdict.

I got called once for Superior Court which in Georgia is the big court that tries stuff like murder, homicide and all that kind of fun stuff. I didn’t get picked for a trial. Matter of fact, there were only three cases that term (my hometown is boring like that) and I was there for exactly half a day.

One other time I got called for State Court which handles civil stuff like divorce and lawsuits. I got put on a jury for a divorce case. The wife had sued (I think that’s the term) for divorce and the husband was in prison and contested it. Needless to say, since he was a guest of the state at the time he could not be present. :smiley: The whole thing took all of two hours. The jury granted the divorce, gave custody of the kids to the mother (quelle surprise!) and decided that after the husband got out of prison, he had two months to find a job and begin paying child support. The amount of child support was left up to the judge to determine under state law, so I never learned how much because after we delivered our verdict we were released and I got the heck outta there.

Both times were in the mid 80’s about twelve months apart. Haven’t been called up for jury duty since then.

cormac262 has hit on the worst thing about jury duty: the deliberations.

Hearing the case is generally tolerable, if the lawyers and judge know their jobs; the long delays are tolerable if you prepare (bring lots of books, or knitting, or whatever you’re into; one of my fellow jurors brought a photo album of railroad models he’d built–he was really good at it).

But the deliberations… Yeesh. I’ve been called half a dozen times at least, selected twice, had to get excused the first time after my boss had a conniption, and the second time, I ended up serving. It was a drug case, and I left the jury box thinking: Guilty of possession, not guilty of possession with intent to distribute. After hearing the evidence, and watching the defense lawyer do her damnedest (she was good), that seemed the appropriate finding to me. And it was the verdict the entire jury reached. Nearly two hours later. And I was just thankful it only took two hours and not two days.

After we’d dealt with the two people who were confused about the evidence (one spoke English as a second language, and the other, IMO, hadn’t been paying attention), most of the delay was due to a woman whose idea of deliberating was shaking her head and muttering “I dunno, I just think that cop was lyin’.” I let my fellow jurors do most of the work of wearing her down (I handle confrontations poorly–bad childhood experiences), and when I found myself hitting the table, put my head in my hands, shut up and thought about other things until I was calm.

I hate arguments, so I found the whole experience very unpleasant as well as a waste of time. If you like arguing, or if you can detach and watch it like a tennis match, you might enjoy deliberations. But the odds are you’ll report, sit around a lot, go through a selection or two, and get sent home without getting anywhere near deliberations.

You may also be disappointed in your fellow humans during voir dire; some people will say anything to avoid serving.

I had the opposite experience. I was prepared to be disappointed by was actually impressed. I was the foreman of a jury that convicted a young man of two counts of battery a year and a half ago. Of course, Santa Barbara juries aren’t typical. On my jury, of the fourteen of us (jury plus two alternates), twelve had degrees and of them four had advanced degrees. Four of us were engineers. I had always heard that engineers don’t get on juries.

I just got notice for jury duty again. I have to start calling in tomorrow night so we’ll see how it goes if I have to serve again.

It seems I get called every two to three years. I always get called for Superior Court, and I always get chosen as a juror for trials. I don’t know what it is about me…

I’ve sat on a child molestation/assault/rape case; a driving while impaired and along with some other charges type case, a couple of drug cases, a theft case, a lewd conduct case, and a convicted sex felon, still in treatment at McNeil Island in posession of pornography case, and the last one, just last winter, a meth lab with intent to distribute case. He was also less than 500 feet from a school bus stop, and was a felon in possession of firearms. The evidence in this case was amazing.

We came to verdicts in all but the first and last cases I listed. In the first case, the accused plea bargained. The case was vile. The child in question was two.

In the last case, the accused suddenly got “sick” and had to be hospitalized. This was after several days of testimony and evidence, which to be frank, was not looking good for him. I ran into the prosecuting attorney in this particular case a couple of months ago. He was going to be tried again in September.

In most cases, I found my fellow jurors to be thoughtful and to take their jobs as jurors and the instructions issued seriously. It’s always educational. I don’t mind serving, but I have to admit, the times I’m called aren’t always convenient for me work-wise. I always serve though.

Once, we were sitting in a room, waiting to see what kind of case we would get. One of the other jurors said, “I’m sick of these stupid lawsuits. I want a murder trial.”