Jury Duty – Part 2

My jury duty experience today was interesting. After filling out a questionaire, myself and three other potential jurors had to meet with the judge and explain why, on a previous occasion, we did not respond to a jury summons. What the heck?! I told the judge that I had no recollection of ever receiving a prior summons for the city. (My only other summons prior to today was for the county and I had shown up.) Another man plead the same case. Two others admitted that they had just forgotten to show up. At any rate, I was not happy to have this on my record when I am innocent of the charges. Maybe I should go to trial over the accusation? Maybe not.

After a long wait, during which I enjoyed reading my book The Last Unicorn, we were all called into the court room where we were sworn in. We were then told a panel of 12 would be randomly selected by a computer to move into the jury box for further questioning by the prosecution and the defense.

I was greatly relieved that I was not one of the 12.

Those of us not chosen still had to remain and watch the questioning in case we were needed. Watching them get questioned made me even more thankful that I was not chosen. I am not good at answering questions when put on the spot and nervous besides.

The judge and one of the attorneys also spoke of how a juror needs to put aside any prejudices, sympathy, or personal feelings in order to give a fair trial. The jury has to only consider the evidence and arguments put forth against the defendant. They gave some examples.

Example 1:

For a DUI case, a judge might tell the jury that there are three things that must be proven before a person can be considered guilty of a DUI.

  1. Was he driving?
  2. Was an accurate test taken to determine alcohol level?
  3. Was the alcohol level above the legal limit?

If any of the three cannot be proved by the prosecution, then there is, by law, reasonable doubt and a guilty verdict should not be given.

This was really difficult for me. So even if you know the defendant is guilty (or rather think you know), if the prosecution is unable to fully prove in court that the criteria set forth by the law was met, then there is reasonable doubt.

The sympathy thing especially would be hard for me to be impartial.

Example 2:

Suppose the DUI case from example 1 involved the death of the driver’s child? When they got up on the stand, they showed obvious remorse. They feel awful about what happened to their child and are very sorry. Aren’t they suffering enough with their guilt over the loss of their beloved child?

Again, taking out all sympathy, you have to go back to the criteria set forth by the law only.

  1. Was he driving?
  2. Was an accurate test taken to determine alcohol level?
  3. Was the alcohol level above the legal limit?

If all of the three were able to be proven by the prosecution, then the person is guilty. It would then be up to the judge to hopefully take the defendant’s remorse into consideration when handing out the sentencing. The jury’s only job is to impartially determine guilt or innocence of the defendant.

After the questioning, one juror was told she could leave. I am pretty sure it was because of her obviously strong Christian beliefs. So when she was replaced by another potential juror who, after questioning, turned out to have equally strong Christian beliefs and perhaps was even more outspoken about it, I chuckled a bit to myself.

The prosecution asked the new juror if his religious beliefs would interfere with being on the jury, saying that some people with strong religious beliefs do not like to stand in judgment of others. He said that yes, he could serve as an impartial juror.

This new potential juror was quite a guy. He even had the Bible with him as his reading material (we all had reading material for the long waits). The prosecution mentioned a case where the Bible was used to determine someone’s guilt and how that could not stand as the criteria to determine guilt since it has to be the U.S. law only. That conviction then was thrown out because of that. So the prosecution then asked the new potential juror if he would be okay with using the U.S. law to determine innocence or guilt.

What the potential juror replied with impressed me very much. He said that he could judge based on the law but only if it did not go against God’s laws. Wow. If only I could have the courage to stand so strong like that.

After the 12 were questioned, the prosecution and the defense were allowed to choose three people each to not serve on the jury. Then we were all dismissed.

Well, one jury duty done and one more to go this month for me.

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1 Response

  1. janis says:

    That was very impressive what he said. I am proud of him, even though I dont know him. Wish more people were like him. In fact, I wish the whole U.S. had that attitude, instead of the degenerate way our country has become.

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