Wednesday, May 31, 2000
Captain Napalm Goes To Court
So today's the day I go off to the county courthouse to sit around a large room waiting to be called for a trial.
Yup, I've been called to jury duty.
I arrived a few minutes past 8:00 am and rush into the Jury Assembly Room to a video tape describing the process of jury selection and trial. I find a seat and watch. It was an okay video of the instructional type but towards the end it got rather annoying—disolves to the US Flag with “God Bless America” playing in the background and a rambling narration informing us citizens that it is our God-Given duty to enjoy jury duty for there is nothing better than upholding our Judicial System, the one with a Jury of Our PeersTM.
Only, if you bother to read the Constuitution:
The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.
The U. S. Constitution, Article III, Section 2.
Nothing at all about having a jury of our peers. Nice to know some myths about our government are propagated by our government.
Anyway, I sat in the Jury Assembly Room, reading R. Buckminster Fuller's Synergentics and Synergetics II and waited for my number to be called. Around 10:30 am it was, which then meant I had to wait around for the judge to call us to his court room.
At 11:30 am we were informed that the judge who we were selected for didn't need us (case being settled out of court) and thus we were thrown back into the Jury Pool, but we could take the next hour or so off for lunch. Just be back by 1:15 pm.
I ate at the Burger King across the hall (yes, there was a Burger King in the court house). I went back to the Jury Assembly Room and napped for a bit.
Now, we were informed that if we were not selected for a case by 3:30 or 4 pm, we could then go home having served our obligations and it was with an hour left that I got called for another judge.
It seems that the jury for this judge selected earlier in the morning were all dismissed due to some legal mumbo jumbo and another jury was being selected, about 30 in all. Ten of the jurors had been selected earlier that morning (I wasn't one of them—this being a different judge than the one I had been called for) and when the judge was informed, he immediately dissmissed them before even heading down to the court room. They had difficulty finding enough remaining jurors not selected and the judge only ended up with 23 or so jurors to interview.
By 3:00 we were in the court room, sitting down and the charges of the defendant being read. Afterwards, the judge asked if anyone might be biased towards the defendant due to the charges and immediately seven people were dismissed (but not after the judge expressed some concern that the defendant might not get a trial because of insufficient jurors).
Eighteen left and over the next hour an a half we were interviewed by both sides. I was asked a question and immediately after answering it I knew, I just knew I would be selected (and I could understand why it might be difficult to select a jury for this particular trial—involving underage children).
Sure enough, after a few minutes deliberation where we potential jurors were milling about outside the court room, we were called back in and I was one of seven jurors picked. The rest were dismissed and we seven were then sworn in, and given instructions to be back at the court house on Friday at 10:00 am.
We were given official Jury PinsTM and shown where to show up on Friday.
Great. Another early morning.