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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jury Duty

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of serving on a jury. Although the case itself was not all that interesting - the defendant was an accused drug user found with drugs in his car -, the process of a real-life courtroom drama intrigued me.

It wasn't at all like those on television. Everything moves quickly on television, but in real life, it is sometimes boring and tedious.

I'd love to be called upon again to serve. I'm curious if any others have had interesting experiences on jury duty. Care to share?

11 comments:

Palooski65 said...

I was on a sequestered jury in September of '96. The defendant was a young black man--15 yrs. old when he fatally shot his G-Father. He was 18 at the time of the trial.

Being sequestered is NOT fun--not for a week, anyway. Three women who knew Perry say the teen is quiet, peaceful, and passive. Yeah, right! Why then was his G-Father found in a pool of blood?

The part that is really scary is that he was sentenced to 15 years--probably served 8 and is back on the streets today. His name was Jeremaine T. Perry.

He was found guilty of second-degree murder.

Palooski65 said...

I served on a second jury in about '99 or 2000. A young boy--5 yrs. old was electrocuted by a faulty lamp made in Taiwan. It was heart-wrenching. I hope I never have to serve on another that involves a small child--I cried myself to sleep every night after the trial proceedings.

Jackie Houchin said...

I have jury duty beginning tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes. The first time I went was for a hit-and-run. We, the jury, took a vote among us and when every one of us said "guilty" a loud thunder clap was heard. We all jumped in our seats and figured that either God was voicing His approval... or disapproval. Spooky!

Beth said...

I've been called to serve on jury duty several times and absolutely LOVED it.

I wasn't chosen for a rape case (I was glad) nor was I chosen to serve last year after I said I had dated a cop! Neither attorney was interested in me after that. Big surprise.

But in my early 20's I served on a very interesting case about a local real estate company that involved sex, drugs and money under the table. Juicy stuff. It was like watching a soap opera every day. I almost decided to become a court reporter after that case! I still think I'd enjoy that field. Fascinating stuff!

I was also a juror on a case about a woman involved in a car accident. She walked in wearing a huge neck brace, and after her testimony, I was afraid I would be the only one who thought she was a con artist trying to hit the jackpot. Luckily, all the other jurors felt the same way. I think we granted her $1 or some ridiculously small amount. Boy, was her attorney mad.

Beverly said...

I was on jury duty several years ago. The prosecutor was awful! She didn't set the scene. From what she said, most of the jurors couldn't understand what happened. They were ready to acquit.

I asked for the map of the scene (the one good piece of evidence the prosecutor introduced) and went over the crime with the jurors. We voted him guilty. Then I felt awful! What if he was innocent?

After the trial was over the judge went over evidence with us that was not able to be introduced in the trial. He was definately guilty. Then I felt better.

(Just as an aside--WE NEED SPELL CHECK ON THIS BLOG!)

Shirley McCann said...

I'm curious to know more about how a sequestered jury works. Can you tell us how that works? Did you know from the beginning it was going to be sequestered? Did you roommate in motels? No newspapers, tv, etc? Sounds interesting?

Spell check, huh? Can I do that on here? Still learning, so I'll see what can be done.

Beverly said...

I'm a terrible speller. I had to pull out my dictionary when I wrote my comment. Spell Check is a life saver.

Palooski65 said...

A sequestered jury has very little time to prepare--you're told and then you have to collect your clothes, etc. in a designated amount of time and return to the courthouse. They bus you to the motel/hotel where you will stay. We didn't have roommates but we were able to visit & watch some tv in a common meeting area. They buy your meals, of course--usually give you 3 choices and majority wins the selection. They do NOT offer extremely fancy as you see in the movies. Then there's the shuffling around between court house and motel/hotel. I was glad for the experience -- ONCE. Don't want to ever have to do it again, though.

Shirley McCann said...

Virginia,

Were you able to discuss the case with other jurors while in the motel? Or was that a no-no!

Also curious about what you could take? Books? Paper and Pen? Laptop?

I suppose there were no tv's in the rooms? Phone calls to family during the week?

I find this all so interesting. I couldn't do a sequestered jury now, but the jury experience was very enlightening.

Palooski65 said...

Discussing the case was a no-no with ANY ONE. No tv in our rooms only in the common area--monitored all the time. No calls home but, in emergency, the bailiff or other court official would pass messages. I don't think any lap tops were allowed but it might have been that none of the jurors had one--not sure about that. We could take books, pen, paper. In fact, we were even allowed to take notes during the trial. It's not allowed all the time, tho--depends on the attorneys/clients. We didn't have tv in our courtroom but I know that some trials do. I suppose it depends, again, on the attorneys/clients wishes.

Palooski65 said...

I guess I should clarify a point. Discussing the case was a TOTAL NO-NO with the exception of deliberations--we had some pretty heated arguments, then. At NO OTHER time were we to discuss the case, though. That was true even with the 5 yr. old boy's case. All discussion was to take place during jury deliberation ONLY. We did go home for the evenings but were warned not to discuss the case AT ALL.

I think the thing that irked me the most was when we were asked during voire dire (spelled incorrectly, I imagine) if we could give a life sentence in the light of the age of the young man who killed his g-father--those who said they couldn't were excused. When the final verdict was beening wrestled, one juror said that he just couldn't bring himself to put such a young man away for life. Duhhh! He must have slept through jury selection. It caused an extra day of sequestered deliberation because every one was in agreement but the one jurist. It had to be a unanimous vote.