Question about jury duty.

So I just received a summons for jury duty. I have no problem with this, and intend to show up do my duty faithfully. However, there is one thing.

The summons is for the week of July 4.

So I have been wondering. How likely is it that they will actually have a trial that week? Who controls trial scheduling?

What tactical questions would go into scheduling a trial on a holiday week? Would the prosecution like it? After all the jurors are more likely to be pissed off about the whole thing, maybe they’d be more likely to convict?



I assume no one will go in on the 4th itself. Wouldn’t it be just the same as if you were working normally, with the holiday right in the middle of the week?

On the plus side, only four days of jury duty, not five.

Even if they don’t actually hold the trial that week, they may pick the jury from that week’s pool and then have them attend the trial the following week. When I served on a jury last year on a six week murder trial, there were all sorts of delays. I’m fairly certain that we were picked one week, and then told that the trial would begin the following Monday. We were also in a state furlough period, so there were various days that the courthouse was closed and we were off duty. I think we were given a big tentative schedule at the beginning of the trial, with various furlough days, holidays, etc. marked off.

Also, if you planning on exercising your right to jury nullification, don’t speak about it out loud.

And if the facts of the case and your conscience w/r/t the law itself don’t mesh up, by all means please do exercise your right to jury nullification.

Oh, don’t have the courage of your convictions to give voice to your conscience? Look, believe in jury nullification all you want, but what, pray tell, is the moral basis for being dishonest about the possibility that you might do so?

The allure of unspoken jury nullification is the allure of unilaterally and clandestinely abrogating the juror’s sworn duty to follow the law as he is instructed by the judge.

So, if jury nullification is your thing, you are duty-bound to note it during voir dire. Otherwise, you’re just an oath-breaker, which should equally offend your conscience.

I’m not sure I understand this supposed conflict. Why should one be expected to volunteer random unasked-for information during voir dire? If the lawyers/judge don’t ask for a potential juror’s opinion on jury nullification (and I’m certain they don’t, because they don’t want to advertise its existence), there is no appropriate time to bring it up. The argument for keeping mum is pure self-preservation; I can see an asshole judge slapping someone with contempt for stating they plan to nullify before they’ve even heard the facts of the case. It seems argumentative, like a cheap stunt to get out of jury duty.

I’ve never been called for jury duty. But if I *were *called, I’d never bring up my knowledge of nullification or intent to nullify unasked. If I were asked a question about my knowledge of/feelings on nullification, though, I would.

The judge will likely ask something along these (pdf) lines (these are for a civil case, but something similar would exist for a criminal case):

So if one is philosophically opposed to drug laws or hate crime laws, or if one is a homophobe determined to acquit in a gay-bashing case, these questions in theory should call those beliefs to light.

Well then if a potential juror gave convincing answers to those questions but expertly skirted the subject of his/her intent to nullify (if it came to that), I’m now sure on what grounds he/she could be charged. I suppose Perjury may be possible, but any decent lawyer (particularly if the ACLU gets involved) should be able to get the case thrown out. And if course, if you’re charged with Perjury for hiding your knowledge of your right to nullify during voir dire, the jury that tries you may itself have one or two members who are aware of their right to nullify and aren’t afraid to use it…

What weird twisted logic is that? Why the hell would I give a shit about oath-breaking if it meant I was going to have to enforce an unjust law, and thus make myself responsible for hurting who I don’t believe deserves it?

In order to practice jury nullification, judges have made it where I have to lie to do it. I’m not going to let them use that sort of trickery from doing what is right. It’s perfectly okay to lie to someone who is trying to get you to do something worse if it’s the only way out. Why wouldn’t it be?

As Tom Tildrum points out, your certainty is misplaced.

I think you’re making a mountain out of molehill. The chances that you’ll get on a case where jury nullification is even something to be considered is remote.

Take heart. Only ten percent of criminal cases go to trial, and only two percent of civil cases. So if you get selected, chances are you won’t have to serve!

It wasn’t me who brought up jury nullification. I have no plans to falsely swear any oaths. If I cannot serve with good conscience I will say so.

I was just a little bit wierded out by the prospect of a trial on the week of July 4th.

In my experience, the only trials set that week are ones with incarcerated defendants, such that speedy trial becomes an issue if it’s continued past the holiday. I’d imagine the jury pool is smaller because of the holiday too, so your likelihood of sitting on a jury might not be affected at all.

Juries aren’t called until very close to the trial date, so the 90 or 98% is already accounted for in advance.