Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jury Duty

Jury Duty.  Not exactly on my list of favorite things to do.

What does it conjure up ?  LA Law, Perry Mason, maybe Law & Order ?  Do you want to be sequestered?  Sounds possibly exciting.  

The last time I was called to be in the pool for jurors was several years ago.  I didn't get chosen to sit on the jury, but I did have to listen to the prosecutor and defense lawyer explain the upcoming case.  It was actually quite interesting.  A man went to a dancing bar and got angry with another over a girl. He left the bar and went out to his car where he had a bat.  He took the bat and beat the other man with it as he left the bar.   Almost a county song.

After being questioned by the lawyers, they chose who they wanted to sit on the jury.  I didn't get get to sit--but I was okay with that.

Now the opportunity was back again.  Ugh,--- don't get me wrong.  I appreciate our system of justice in the United States and I realize there needs to be a jury of peers for it to work. I just don't want to be one of the peers.  I don't want to take off work to be available.  [They do pay us $7.50 per day for our trouble Whoo Hoo! ] I don't want to hold the fate of someone in my hands, especially if the alleged crime is severe.

But I got the notice to serve.  To do my civic duty.  Show up or have a warrant put out on me.

For one week I called the courthouse every evening to see if I needed to go in.  Thankfully each night I got the message that there were no trials scheduled for the following day. Yay!

So...I was a good citizen and did my civic duty.  I served my time as a potential member of the jury pool.  And now I am done--without ever having to actually go in.   Hopefully it will be several years before my turn comes up again.

Have you ever served on a jury?   


Linda :) said...

I only got as close as you did... I haven't had to serve yet... Thanks for stopping by my blog... visiting via the a to z challenge... :)

betty said...

Yes, I was on a jury just this past June 2013. In years past when the kids were young and I was self employed, I never wanted to get called for jury duty and would ask to be excused but lately after I got employed by a company that paid up to 10 days for jury duty and the kids were grown and out of the house, I really wanted to be on a jury.

When I went down to the court house that morning, I thought it would be like my previous experience, got down there, got released by noon; but I got called along with 49 other people for the initial questioning, etc., for who would be on the jury.

I was quite surprised when I became Juror #3. It was a fascinating case in that four guys wanted to buy some marijuana from a guy, but they weren't going to buy it, but steal it. In the course of the event, the seller got killed by one of the four guys. I was a juror for one of the guys that was with the shooter, but didn't kill the man, but because someone had been killed during a robbery, there is a law in California that everyone with the person who actually did the shooting/killing could be arrested and charged with felony murder.

So the 3 with him, even though they had no idea he had a gun and intended to use it, got arrested and charged with felony murder and other charges.

The case I sat on was for a then 18 year old when the crime was committed, a month away from graduating high school

Long story short, three days into the trial, he took a plea bargain because he was afraid he would get life in prison and no one wants life in prison, so he got 17 years in prison. The case never went to us to deliberate.

The shooter got 25 years to life.
The driver of the car they thought would plea bargain and get 25 years.
The other guy involved got 17 years like this guy did.

The man killed was set to get married a month after he got killed. His fiance and mother were in the court every day of testimony crying.

It was so sad; what a tragic waste of it all for just the equivalent of a few dollars of drugs.

Had the case gone to the jury, based on what I had heard so far, I would have voted guilty.

I no longer am eager to serve on a jury, but I will if get called again.


MS said...

Betty, that is the hard part of being on a jury. Seeing up close the brokenness in this world and the devastation it brings with it. Because of all the legal loopholes and things you (the jury) aren't allowed to consider, I would not be wanting to make long term life decisions for others despite my sometimes strong opinions.

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

I served once. I feel a bit like Betty...the perpetrator had been given a DUI. Of course, he was contesting it, but video showed him weaving, he failed the breathilizer. Seemed like a clear conviction to me, but 2 jurors thought the cops made it all up, the system was corrupt, blah, blah, blah. It was a hung jury b/c those 2 jurors would not budge. We were there for three days. Such a waste of time and tax-paper's money. The 2 jurors were so uninformed and arrogant. I came away so disappointed in the system. The average citizen is not informed enough to sit on a jury! It's really sad.