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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jury Duty #JuryDuty

Jury Duty

I received a noticed in the mail, requiring me to report for jury duty by calling a phone number on the day before I was to report. All other times when I called, I was told, by recording that my service were not needed and that would be the end of it. But not this time, it seems that my presents was needed at the courthouse Monday morning at 8:30am sharp. 

From 8:30 am to about 10:15 am we listen to some instructions and watched a video overview of what we could expect from jury duty. We were given a short break and upon our return we were given badges and told to report to the courtroom. After we were settled in, more instructions were given, this time from the Judge. I listen to these instructions a little more carefully. When the Judge finished, we then were introduced to the DA, defending counsel and the defendant. 

The Judge now instructed us how to request to be dismissed due to a hardship that we may incur if serving on this jury. I tried to get out of jury service due to being self-employed - I am not compensated for my time serving on the jury. I told the judge that if I don't work I don't get paid. She asked if I had any saving which I answered with an affirmative and was told that the hardship only applies to those who do not have savings. You will continue with the jury selection process. I thanked the judge and left her office being told to report back after lunch. 

After lunch 18 jurors were called by the number we were assigned. My number was not called. More instructions were given by the Judge and we all listened. They were to answer 12 or 13 questions given to them out loud in front of the rest of us. 

What do you do for a living?
Where do you live? 
How long have you lived there?
What is your education background?
Married, kids?
Any military service, how were you discharged?
Have you ever been in a courtroom before if so for what?
Have you been a victim of a crime?

Those were the sort of question that was asked. After all 18 answered, the DA stood and talked for twice as long than was needed to explain two points. They were:
I want you to:
1) Use your common sense (he made a big deal out of this one)
2) Go by what the law states as it applies to the case.   

The DA starts talking again. This time he tells everyone that is still listening about some crazy laws that are still on the books in some states. One of which is in PA that states that after each mile you drive you must stop and shoot up a flare. Now he poses this question to individual jurors. If you were on the jury (today) and it was proved within reason that the defendant did not fire off the flare, would you find him guilty? 

Juror A89 - guilty of course
Juror A98 - guilty 
Juror A67 - guilty

I could not believe what I was hearing. You have to be kidding me. They were sheep that cannot use or don't have any common sense. The people answering this question were college educated some with high level degrees. Hell one juror was a physicist that answered guilty. 

Another question posed, was if you thought that anyone on trial in Alameda County was innocent. This question was asked right after the DA and the Judge earlier explained that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Again one by one each juror answered with something close to, "Well maybe" or "There is a chance that one could be." I had to suppress my urge to raise my hand voicing oh, oh pick me, like Horseshack on "Welcome back Carter." I also had to contain myself from yelling out the correct answer that, “everyone on trial is innocent until convicted.”  Instead I just sat there shaking my head in disbelief.   

Most jurors did not understand the follow statement. Would you agree that it's better to let ten guilty people go free than to have one innocent man go to jail?

"No the innocent man should not go to jail," said most jurors.
"No, you should not let ten guilty men free."

No matter how the defense attorney phrased the question she could one get one straight answer from the pool of 18. This was scary. Someone’s life was going to be judged by 12 people that could not understand simple concepts and could not use common sense. After all follow up questions were complete the Judge asked if the Attorneys wanted to dismiss any jurors. Both attorneys stated no and the Judge looked up in shock stating, "That this is the first time that has ever happen in my court." 

The Judge thanked the rest of us for our time, service and dismissed us. I was not needed for jury service this time.   


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