Jury Duty! Yeah! Posted by: Dale Franks
on Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Today is my first day of Jury duty. Maybe my last day, too, but, since I can serve on a jury for a fairly long time without hardship, I'm probably a good candidate for having to do so. So, I thought it might be interesting to record my experiences as the day (days?) go on.
07:30: So, here I am at the San Diego County courthouse, bright and early. Problem number one: No wi-fi connection. Why would they have it? Why? So far, about five people have asked the clerk if there's a wi-fi connection here, and the clerk just smiles, and says, "No. We don't have very modern technology here." And really, why should they. This old courthouse building was built way back in 1999. Clearly, no one could have foreseen way back then the need for the members of the jury pool to, you know, check email or anything. Nor apparently, has the need become pressing in the succeeding eight years.
This sucks. I can get wi-fi at a hole in the wall coffee shop 500 feet from the courthouse, but a modern, multimillion dollar courthouse building doesn't have any internet connectivity at all, except for four—count 'em, four—dial-up lines in the "quiet room". The door to the quiet room is wide open to the jury lounge, of course, which means that it isn't actually quiet.
08:00: OK. It's eight AM. Not only is there no sign yet of getting this show on the road, the jury pool lounge is only about half full, and jurors are still sauntering in. The capacity of the jury lounge, according to the big fire marshal sign on the wall, is 568 persons. Heh. Yeah. Maybe. If they remove all the furniture and convert the room into a dance club. There's about 300 people in the room now, and it's pretty full.
08:11: OK. We're getting started. The Clerk is running us through the rules. She says I need to have two weeks free to serve on a jury, which is the first screening, to weed out those who only get three or five days of jury service pay from their employers. Unfortunately, I can give two weeks. If I am asked to come back tomorrow, though, I get fifteen bucks a day for service! Woo hoo!
Today, however, she says I am "volunteering" my time. Funny, my jury summons doesn't indicate that this is voluntary. It just says I'll get a fine and contempt citation if I don't show up. I assume that "volunteer" has about the same level of accuracy as "quiet room".
08:20: San Diego is, of course, one of the hot chick capitals of the world. Apparently, none of them received jury duty summonses.
I'm just saying.
08:24: Crap. There's a long trial on the docket, i.e., one expected to run until June 1st. That means I have to check the box that says I can serve in a long case. Most trials only run 5-10 business days, usually because it doesn't take a long trial to sentence a guy caught on tape knocking over a liquor store. This long case is expected to run 14 business days, and since this is the criminal division, it must be some really juicy matter.
08:31: One of the judges is giving us a pep talk about how important jury service is. He says that we have two extraordinary powers as citizens. The power to vote to direct our government, and the power of citizens to judge their fellow citizens as jurors. He says those are the most important rights we have.
I say, out loud, "Well, except for the right to keep and bear arms." Many of the jury duty attendees are local teachers. They are unamused.
08:45: The judge is done, and the clerk is now going on about that long case again. In fact, she's gonna collect the summonses in such a way as to segregate out those summonses whose recipients, like me, who can serve on a long case.
Looks like I might have to at least do voir dire for that jury.
09:00: We're shown a film about how great it is to serve on a jury. Representative jurors tell us about their experiences, in between shots of bad actors re-enacting a criminal trial. Everyone sounds like they're reading their lines off cue cards. Badly.
If they're gonna use my tax money to produce films, at least they could make good films.
09:34: They've let us go on a break. As I stroll over to the other side of the courthouse to the little outside atrium, I have to go through the corridor that intersects with the first floor courtrooms. Looking down the hall, it's losers and lawyers as far as the eye can see. Some fascinating tattoo work is on display, though. I really like the "praying hands" tattoo on the side of Gang-Banger Three's neck.
When the break is over, they'll start calling out jury assignments. At that point, I guess liveblogging will be over, if I get called. Can't talk about a trial if you're a juror.
09:45: It's jury appreciation week here at the courthouse. They are giving away 25 gift bags donated by the North County Transportation District.
09:51: I win nothing. I'm crushed to miss out on a large public transportation map, suitable for framing, and a child's NCTD T-shirt.
"Why is my tax money paying for children's T-shirts?" I wonder.
09:56: They're calling the voir dire pool for the long case. They need 75 jurors. Here we go.
09:59: I got called. It's off to voir dire for me. Since I'm in the juror pool, and I can't talk about the case at all—whatever it turns out to be—I'll have to forego any more blogging about it until I'm dismissed as a juror, or the case is over.
And just when it was starting to get interesting, too...
When I was on jury duty a couple of months ago the reason for a lack of Wi-Fi — in the Vista Courthouse — was "security." If you were willing to give up your license, they’d loan you a telephone cable so you could jack-in to the dial-up in the "quiet room."
As for the hot chick thing — try to time your jury duty for summer. That’s when all the college coeds serve their jury duty.
Good luck Dale - I’m surprised you made it after the 2nd Amendment comment. I never make it past the defense lawyers. I don’t think they like the way I look at them and listen to everything they say. Kinda scares ’em....
Liberty Dog wrote: "I have failed to make it past voir dire twice for my stated beliefs in jury nullification."
And you always will, if you’re such an idiot that you tell them that! "Liberty" my *ss! What a crying shame that those with cursory intelligence play into the hands of the system like that!
OBVIOUSLY, YOU DO NOT TELL THEM YOU BELIEVE IN JURY NULLIFICATION OF LAW IF YOU ARE CALLED TO "SERVE"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You will simply be removed, and they will find someone with less morals than you to fill the position! Of course, maybe you _want_ to be removed, because you don’t want to stick up for some poor b*stard’s rights. This is sheer laziness or stupidity or both.
When the nazis come for Anne Frank, YOU HAVE TO LIE IF YOU WANT TO SAVE HER. The injustice is institutionalized, and that’s the whole point! You have to work overtime if you want a chance of overcoming it.
That means, you do not tell the prosecutor during voire dire that you believe in jury nullification! You say the equivalent of "Yes massah, if dis slave gets out of line, I’m gon’ whip ’im —-juss like you tell me!"
You agree to "interpret the law as the judge gives it to you". THEN, YOU PRACTICE NULLIFICATION, AND YOU NEVER GIVE A REASON, OTHER THAN: "I THINK THE PROSECUTION IS LYING."
The full weight of the US Government won’t be able to do a thing to stop you!
How sad that Americans have established a system of rule worse than the one they originally rebelled against. How sad that it is so, because supposedly well-meaning dupes don’t have the guts to lie to a corrupt prosecutor.
Do you think that if William Wallace’s cohorts could have saved him from disembowelment by getting their sorry *sses placed on a jury, they would have done so? How much effort does that take?!!
LIE TO THE D*MNED PROSECUTOR. (No, it’s not immoral to do so —this prosecutor is an agent of a police-state built on theft, murder, and lies.) To practice nullification takes more than just knowing what to do if you get on the jury! The prosecutor, judge, cops, —-none of them want moral people on the jury. It’s your duty —if you want to stand up for what’s right— to get on the jury and to do what’s right after that.
Of course, it’s easier to just say: "Look how cool I am! I told them I believed in jury nullification, and they sent me back to graze with the rest of the sheep! I’m a _cool_ sheep!"