Jury Duty:Thoughts

johnflesh

Former Staff
Feb 2007
26,852
19,474
Colorado
#1
I just got back from my participation in civic duty sitting all morning in a jury pool. It wasn't too bad and luckily the people in this city are super nice and easy to talk to.

Finally I get called to be on a selection/panel for a case regarding a man (who was present) charged with animal cruelty. While I wasn't provided details, I did see photos on the People's table of the animal and it looked like a cat who had been injured/shot in the eye. Living still, but clearly injured.

Upon announcing the charge, a woman sitting in the potential alternatives stated "I can't hear this case, I need to leave" and she promptly got up and walked out. The judge asked us not to allow that to affect us but it clearly did.

People and Defense both had 15 min each to ask the panel any questions they wanted - and based on the woman's proclamation you could see it did have a clear effect on us. Luckily people were honest but many were too honest in my opinion:

- One man admitted he had no clue how the court system works and all he cared about is why he needed to be there.
- And one woman broke out crying (probably from the pressure and being nervous) when asked direct questions.
- Even though it is the law - many people openly admitted they would not be able to be impartial based on the charge alone. Where there is smoke there is fire - kinda thinking.

It was so bad, they dismissed all of us and postponed the selection until they could find 12 people (6 needed and 6 alternatives) who could admit they would find it in themselves to be impartial and objective.

And that is the point of my post. It was very clear that many people had a bag full of excuses why they would be unable to be impartial. I suspect most were being honest but I also suspect that some of excuses was simply so they wouldn't be picked and could go home.

Your job as a juror is to be impartial, objective and put aside your emotions to examine the facts in the case and decide if there is any reasonable doubt. And I was surprised (I shouldn't have been) in how willing people are to tell a judge they won't be able to follow the law. There isn't enough education on this fact going in. I believe courts need to do a better job of educating those who they call on for civic duty.
 
Likes: 6 people
Mar 2012
57,242
38,798
New Hampshire
#2
Agree. Have served twice and both times were eye opening. People would just come out and say "I dont like the way he looks" or one I got a kick out of "dont think I can be objective, he looks guilty to me." I suspect often its to get out of it (what lawyer wants to take that chance) but I suppose in todays climate maybe they couldnt be objective?
 
Likes: 2 people
Feb 2015
16,712
8,423
sadness
#3
my standard answer to that question is:

seat me and take your chances. My fair and impartial is subjective and dependent to who is listening.

I am not going to tell them straight out that yes i would be fair and impartial.... but i WILL say anything to get the hell out of jury duty.
 

johnflesh

Former Staff
Feb 2007
26,852
19,474
Colorado
#4
Agree. Have served twice and both times were eye opening. People would just come out and say "I dont like the way he looks" or one I got a kick out of "dont think I can be objective, he looks guilty to me." I suspect often its to get out of it (what lawyer wants to take that chance) but I suppose in todays climate maybe they couldnt be objective?
I and one other person stated that we could be objective because it was a requirement - and not a feat of strength that we had to look inside ourselves to "find" or "bring out." I'm of the thought that anything I can do, anyone can do better. Perhaps that isn't fair but I expect as much from others as they expect from me.

Today's climate is to bandwagon the nearest neighboring tribe, and certainly that comes with a little loss of objectivity. But that is the entire point, you have to be willing. It doesn't require training, exercises or conditioning. It takes tasking those with civic duty the proper education on what is expected of them. Many didn't even see the lack of objectivity as a problem. They saw being objective as a means to having to come back to the Court House, or because they own pets themselves. And that was the problem.

I can understand having a heart for pets. I love my pets and would never harm them - but this person may have not done anything wrong and people admitted to not being objective because of how big their hearts are for animals.

It's respectable outside the court room.
 
Likes: 5 people
Mar 2012
57,242
38,798
New Hampshire
#5
I and one other person stated that we could be objective because it was a requirement - and not a feat of strength that we had to look inside ourselves to "find" or "bring out." I'm of the thought that anything I can do, anyone can do better. Perhaps that isn't fair but I expect as much from others as they expect from me.

Today's climate is to bandwagon the nearest neighboring tribe, and certainly that comes with a little loss of objectivity. But that is the entire point, you have to be willing. It doesn't require training, exercises or conditioning. It takes tasking those with civic duty the proper education on what is expected of them. Many didn't even see the lack of objectivity as a problem. They saw being objective as a means to having to come back to the Court House, or because they own pets themselves. And that was the problem.

I can understand having a heart for pets. I love my pets and would never harm them - but this person may have not done anything wrong and people admitted to not being objective because of how big their hearts are for animals.

It's respectable outside the court room.
We all have a bias and I do think its hard. One of my trials had to do with a family vs a local company. It ended in a mistrial because too many jurors just couldnt put "bad evil company" out of their mindset. It tarnished everything they did. They would try to make a decision but then fall back to "well the company had to be at fault because they have lots of money." It then becomes an impossible task to get a fair trial if people constantly fall back to memes or prejudices. But I do think if I were on trial after having seen this, I certainly would rather they honestly say they cant be objective.
 
Likes: 1 person
Jul 2011
35,086
2,945
Tennessee
#6
I just got back from my participation in civic duty sitting all morning in a jury pool. It wasn't too bad and luckily the people in this city are super nice and easy to talk to.

Finally I get called to be on a selection/panel for a case regarding a man (who was present) charged with animal cruelty. While I wasn't provided details, I did see photos on the People's table of the animal and it looked like a cat who had been injured/shot in the eye. Living still, but clearly injured.

Upon announcing the charge, a woman sitting in the potential alternatives stated "I can't hear this case, I need to leave" and she promptly got up and walked out. The judge asked us not to allow that to affect us but it clearly did.

People and Defense both had 15 min each to ask the panel any questions they wanted - and based on the woman's proclamation you could see it did have a clear effect on us. Luckily people were honest but many were too honest in my opinion:

- One man admitted he had no clue how the court system works and all he cared about is why he needed to be there.
- And one woman broke out crying (probably from the pressure and being nervous) when asked direct questions.
- Even though it is the law - many people openly admitted they would not be able to be impartial based on the charge alone. Where there is smoke there is fire - kinda thinking.

It was so bad, they dismissed all of us and postponed the selection until they could find 12 people (6 needed and 6 alternatives) who could admit they would find it in themselves to be impartial and objective.

And that is the point of my post. It was very clear that many people had a bag full of excuses why they would be unable to be impartial. I suspect most were being honest but I also suspect that some of excuses was simply so they wouldn't be picked and could go home.

Your job as a juror is to be impartial, objective and put aside your emotions to examine the facts in the case and decide if there is any reasonable doubt. And I was surprised (I shouldn't have been) in how willing people are to tell a judge they won't be able to follow the law. There isn't enough education on this fact going in. I believe courts need to do a better job of educating those who they call on for civic duty.
Criminal case or a civil case?

I've served once in a civil case
 

johnflesh

Former Staff
Feb 2007
26,852
19,474
Colorado
#8
We all have a bias and I do think its hard. One of my trials had to do with a family vs a local company. It ended in a mistrial because too many jurors just couldnt put "bad evil company" out of their mindset. It tarnished everything they did. They would try to make a decision but then fall back to "well the company had to be at fault because they have lots of money." It then becomes an impossible task to get a fair trial if people constantly fall back to memes or prejudices. But I do think if I were on trial after having seen this, I certainly would rather they honestly say they cant be objective.
I think if people were asked "if you were being tried for a case would you want your jury to be objective?" we might see a bit more able to do so.

While it is worrisome, it's also understandable.

Appreciate you sharing!
 
Likes: 1 person

Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
75,771
44,651
Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
#9
I have appeared for jury duty three times (in three different counties, over time. The first was a criminal DV case; the second was a DUII/resisting arrest case; and the third was for a legal malpractice case. I was not able to be chosen for any of them. I would certainly like to be on a jury sometime, but it is unlikely to happen.

... i WILL say anything to get the hell out of jury duty.
Why?
 
Feb 2015
16,712
8,423
sadness
#10
I have appeared for jury duty three times (in three different counties, over time. The first was a criminal DV case; the second was a DUII/resisting arrest case; and the third was for a legal malpractice case. I was not able to be chosen for any of them. I would certainly like to be on a jury sometime, but it is unlikely to happen.


Why?

i swear they have me on call.... every 2 years to the day i get a notice.

lets see... first reason is to jerk the lawyers around LMAO!!! I think its a kick to force them to use up their challenges. I know...im just bad that way. If they want a jury of piers...seat me without question and they get what they get. During selection its me against the lawyers and who is going to out smart the other.... so far ive never lost.


It also NEVER fails its not a fast trial. 3 to 6 months??... no i dont think so. One jury pick i told the judge i was willing to be fair and impartial for 3 days which was the expected length of the trial...after that, the lawyer who pulled the most antics i would not be very happy with. Another one where it was for lung cancer i told the lawyers they should school their client better.... not so good when they are sitting there with a pack of cigarettes in their pocket. That remark poisoned the whole jury poll and we were all excused. I will always make them question me in chambers and not in open court.

i have no problem with serving on jury duty so long as it does not impact my life. Feel free to pay me what i make and i will be very happy to serve. If they cant do that i will always be a hostile.


so long as they get me at a time when i am not traveling or busy i would be happy to serve.... so far they have not done that very well :)
 

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