Daily Remarks

How jury duty works on a criminal case


I had jury duty today. I went into it with negative thoughts because I considered it to be a time waster. It is somewhat of a time waster, but it also is interesting when you finally get called in for jury selection. We had to walk over to the building were the case was being held and meet the bailiff. He was a really nice funny Irish guy. The bailiff called us into this large room and separated us out into quantities of 25. My phone wouldn’t turn off so I took out the battery. The prospective jurors were questioned in what they call (voir dire). Voir dire is where you take an oath and agree to tell the whole truth and not perjur yourself.

The judge introduced himself and the different workers in the court. Then the judge gave us a brief description of the case. Then the defense and the prosecution gave us a brief description of the case from their point of view. The judge then asked if we had any problems with judging this kind of case. The most important thing was could we be impartial and judge the case for what it is.

The judge then listed the people who were to be associated with the case, the plaintiff, the arresting officer, and witnesses, etc. and he asked if we knew any of them and would this affect our impartial judgement of the case. Each time the judge would excuse people because they couldn’t be impartial and judge the case because of their feelings.

Then the judge got upset because some of the jurors were using their phones and reading books and not paying attention. (not me) He threatened us all, then explained how important this is and then we went back to the proceedings. I can’t believe people wouldn’t pay attention. The judge said in the beginning that we had to pay attention because we would have to agree or disagree with all past information that was brought before us.

Next the judge stated that the case would take 6 days or so and would this cause an undue burdon on any of us financially. That is when I raised my hand and said that I couldn’t be out of work for 6 days. There were 5 or 6 of us that couldn’t be out for that long. There were two guys that were commissioned sales people. I am self employed so it is very hard to get someone else to open the office and direct the employees for that length of time. The judge let us go back to the jury selection room.

I turned in my badge and they let me go for the day. The waiting was the biggest problem for me. I tend to get bored after 2-3 hours without doing anything as I think most people do. Overall it was a good process. If I had the time and not needed the money I would like to sit through the process to the end.