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Old 12-01-2003, 09:43 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Somewhere in time
Posts: 6,471
What should I expect during Jury Duty?

I got a notice that I will report for jury duty at the end of the month. I've never done this before so I wanted to know what to expect.

I figure most of the time I will be sitting around waiting right? At least at first. Should I take a book?

What kinds of things will they be asking me?

Should I dress all the way up? or go as the crazy homeless guy?

What kinds of experiences have others had during jury duty? Anyone get a good case they want to talk about?
Old 12-01-2003, 10:03 AM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 57,538
Boredom. Expect boredom.

I did jury duty a little while back - I only got as far as the pick of 15 once and didn't make it onto the final 12. the rest of the time was spent sitting in the rest room. Take several books and magazines etc.

There was a bloke near me in the rest room who thought he could get out of it by being obnoxious to the clerks (and ultimately to a judge) - he ended up on contempt of court charges (although I suppose he got his wish of not serving jury duty).
Old 12-01-2003, 10:12 AM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 41,375
You can take a book or magazine; you will be sitting around a lot, though once you get inside the courtroom, things can be interesting to watch. That includes the selection process.

They'll be asking general questions as a group -- do you think you can be impartial; was anyone you know a victim of a similar crime, do you know anyone involved in the case, etc.

Then they'll choose people to sit in the jury box and answer individual questions. You will have filled out a form with general information and they may ask you about some of your answers -- job, etc. Some of those the choose will be challenged and thanked for their time; others will be put on a jury (I haven't been selected yet).

Wear respectable clothes -- business casual (and up) is fine. Stay away from t-shirts, especially with suggestive messages; the judge may take a dim view of them.

I've been asked to report twice. The first time, I was never chosen except for the general questions. The second time, they got me into the jury box and asked a few things, then dismissed me.
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
Old 12-01-2003, 10:21 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,782
Speaking from experience, sometimes you can be chosen for the freakiest stuff.

Back in '99 I was selected to be on a Coroner's Inquest jury in Cook County. Apparently (and I did NOT know this) a coroner rules on cause of death, and a jury must then review the facts and rule whether the death was accidental, homicide, suicide, etc. I couldn't tell you if this is standard operating procedure in all states, or just Illinois.

I spent the better part of the day reviewing sworn testimony on 5 different deaths, including reviewing grisly photos, testimonials, affidavits, and whatnot. One woman could not perform her duties due to a weak stomach and had to be replaced by an alternate.

NOT what I expected my day to be like, I'll tell you.
Old 12-01-2003, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Jawja
Posts: 9,626
I just did a turn at jury duty. In the 12 hours I actually was at the courthouse I spent about 3 in a courtroom and 9 in the Jury Assembly room. At least in my jurisdiction, it goes like this:

-Call courthhouse information number the night before to see when (or if) you need to report.
-Arrive at courthouse at designated time, report to Jury Assembly room, check in.
-The Jury Manager assigns everyone to a judge based on a random draw of your juror number. This requires re-seating in a kind of musical chairs routine as jury panels of 15-45 people are seated together.
-When ready to begin jury selection the judge sends a bailiff to instruct his/her panel on general expectations. Jury panel follows bailiff into courtroom.
-The judge indroduces himself and the attorneys and reads the charges against the defendant.
-The attorneys ask questions of the jury panel as a group.
-The attorneys then ask each juror individual follow up questions based on the answers given in the group questioning.
-The attorneys then arrive at the final jury by eliminating those jurors who they do not want on the panel.
-If selected follow the instructions of the judge for the duration of the trial.
-If not selected return to the Jury Assembly romm where you will be reassigned or dismissed for the day.

The vast majority of the time was spent waiting. I don't mind jury duty. I find the legal process very interesting. The waiting, though, is mind numbing. Take plenty to read (no newspapers, though).
Old 12-01-2003, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Scranton PA
Posts: 6,478
I got called for jury duty only once. The first day, whoever wasn't in the first group to go into the courtroom sat around in a small waiting room all day long with an hour break for lunch. We showed up for 9 AM, and were told to report back the next day when we were dismissed at 3:30. The next day, I showed up, signed in, and left. Got a check for $18 the next week ($9/day for just waiting around, no wonder so many people hate getting called for Jury Duty). I did get 2 days pay at work, though, so it was like two days off...

Bring plenty to read. Tabloids, newspapers (not local ones. As Doctor Jackson implied, they may be banned anyway, as they'd influence your impartiality) and magazines, so you can loan them out to the unprepared, and you don't really care if you get them back or not. You will get bored, as has been mentioned previously. If you can get out of the waiting room to take a stroll, duck into a few empty courtrooms and look around. Some of the woodwork and artwork is just fascinating!

I'd do it again when my time comes around, but I hope that I'm at least in an early pool.
Old 12-01-2003, 10:39 AM
Domo Arigato Mister Moderato
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: On the run with Kilroy
Posts: 21,271
You doing it in Frederick or Montgomery County, Eddie?

I did Montgomery County about 10 years ago. For the first half of the day I sat in a large room with a zillion chairs reading a book. When they called my number (with a bunch of others) I went to another room where I filled out a form. I was notified that I was in the pool for a specific trial.

Then we answered some short questions but neither attorney seemed particularly interested. Then the judge chose the first fourteen of us to serve and appointed the person whose name came first as foreman.

We heard the trial the sat deliberated established a verdict and went home that night. No worries.

Old 12-01-2003, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 18,476
If you do not want to serve, tell the lawyers that you:
-are for the death penalty
-read newspapers
-hate minorities (tell them you are a past "grand kleagle" of the KKK!
-mention that you know that the CIA/men in black are following you!
Any of these will getyou outta the jury pool!
Old 12-01-2003, 11:44 AM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 12,320
Jury Duty? You can expect Pauly Shore to be decidedly unfunny.
Old 12-01-2003, 11:53 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 56,382
Originally posted by ralph124c
If you do not want to serve,
Ever tried that?
I should think they would be familiar with that and figure out some way to screw you.

My problem would be asking questions. Why does how horribly the people were killed by the sniper and how awfull their relatives feel mean that this guy did it?
Old 12-01-2003, 11:59 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Somewhere in time
Posts: 6,471
Originally posted by Jonathan Chance
You doing it in Frederick or Montgomery County, Eddie?

I did Montgomery County about 10 years ago. For the first half of the day I sat in a large room with a zillion chairs reading a book. When they called my number (with a bunch of others) I went to another room where I filled out a form. I was notified that I was in the pool for a specific trial.
I'll be in Montgomery County. I get to be there at 8:30, which means leaving at 5am to make it to the court house on time!

I guess I will make sure to take a good book. I do have one question though. What happens if I happen to know one of the lawers. Say for instance I went to school with one, they don't remember me at all, but I think they were a dick. Do I have to say something about that?
Old 12-01-2003, 12:01 PM
Domo Arigato Mister Moderato
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: On the run with Kilroy
Posts: 21,271
Yep. One of the questions they asked (after I'd been moved to the judges chamber) was: "Do you know any of the people involved in this trial, the lawyers, judge, defendants, plantiffs...whatever."

Just answer truthfully and see what happens. No skin off your nost either way, is it?
Old 12-01-2003, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Suburbs of Chicagoland
Posts: 22,337
Don't try what ralph124c recommends. I'm sure they could nail you on a contempt of court-type of charge, as I would be willing to bet many a jerk has pulled that kind of stunt before.

Now, that being said, I was called for jury duty once, and was dismissed as a potential juror. The way it works/worked at the time in Illinois (or the particular county in question) was that you wear a tag with a number, which you get when you check in. During the check-in, you fill out a form that asks about all sorts of stuff, including if you're friends with/related to any police, lawyers, etc. You hang around a lounge all day, and go with the other juror candidates to lunch in the cafeteria. If they call your name, you go into a courtroom and see if you get questioned and possibly picked. If you're not picked, you go back to the room and wait. If by the end of the day you're not selected, you go home and don't have to return until you're summoned again. Check carefully to see what the situation is in your area, as this may well be different.

My number was called part way through the day, so I went with a bunch of other people to a courtroom. The case was about some sort of car accident, with one person claiming injuries that required chiropractor work and so forth. Both sides were there, both lawyers and (IIRC, though my memory is hazy on this) clients. They called up four people at a time, and those people sat in the jury box's front row. They were questioned one at a time by each lawyer, and either accepted by both lawyers, or rejected by one or the other lawyer. When those four were done, another four people were called up, until the jury plus alternates was picked, then everyone not chosen/not called up at all returned to the lounge area.

I was called up, and one of the lawyers asked about my noting that I have a sister-in-law for a lawyer. I mentioned that she's a lawyer for a HMO - that seemed to stir some interest but I couldn't tell if it was positive or negative. Another question was if I interacted with doctors frequently, and I said yes because I worked in a cardiology office and doctors were my bosses. A follow-up question was if they often discussed medical matters with me, and they did all the time so I said that. I was also asked what my opinion of chiropractors is, and I said that while they can probably do some good for certain spinal conditions, some of them seemed to offer things way outside of their practice, as I think them helping for stuff like colds and so forth isn't supported by any decent scientific evidence. The lawyer for the client who had gone to a chiropractor indicated that he didn't want me on the jury, and I was asked by the judge to be seated back in the "audience" area where the other candidates were. Eventually they filled the jury, and I returned to the lounge, and didn't get called up in the remaining time that day.
Old 12-01-2003, 01:13 PM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Northern Michigan
Posts: 525
I've been to jury duty once. It was interesting seeing the lawyers do there thing although I didn't end up in the jury, I was removed by the prosecutor. (at will or whatever its called where they can give no reason and remove someone)

Sat around for quite a bit, finally pretty late in the day, after filling out the questionairre we were in the selection process. It was a criminal case, some sort of child abuse, or pedophilia case. The defendants attorney removed a ton of people cause they said they couldn't be sympathetic to the guy. The prosecutor only removed me and a few others. They didn't ask me any questions, though a lot of others were asked.

I sat in the box for about 3 seconds filling up the last seat and then the prosecutor took me off the case. No idea why he took me off, maybe because they didn't ask me any questions.

The judge had already allowed the proceeding to stay later than normal but the defendants lawyer wanted more time for questions but that was denied.
Old 12-01-2003, 02:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Amid 50,001 Bongo Beaters
Posts: 739
Originally posted by ralph124c
If you do not want to serve, tell the lawyers that you:
-are for the death penalty
Actually, oppositionto capital punishment frequently results in a potential juror's removal from the pool.
Old 12-01-2003, 07:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,294
I agree with a lot of what's already been said: lots of waiting (bring books, crossword puzzles, etc. to kill time), and dress reasonably, but not shabby or overdone.

The one sure "get out of jury duty" card that I know of (and most lawyers I know agree with this) is if you've ever studied law, or anything to do with the judicial system. You'll be out of there in no time.
The other thing I was told has to do with what you do for a living. Being an engineer, I was told that if either side feels that have a weaker case, and need to rely on tugging at your emotions, then they will exclude analytical types (like engineers). And vice versa.

But if you do want to serve, just be honest and not too stressed about being questioned, etc.. I served once, and was called to the box (but excused) a second time. I did the call-in thing one time, but never had to go in.
I will say that the one case I did serve on was very educational. It happened to come at a time when I couldn't really afford to do it as far as work, but I went ahead anyway. It was quite an eye-opener as far as my "cross-section of my community" were concerned - very disappointing. I ended up being the Henry Fonda of our "12 Angry Men", and we were pretty close to being hung. But the others came around and we did let the guy off. What was amazing was how little the people had listened to the (very detailed) instructions on how to come to your decision. It was a very interesting experience, and I'm glad to have done it.

I am told, however, that civil cases aren't as interesting as criminal cases (mine was a criminal case). I have heard from a number of friends who have served on civil cases that it really comes down to which lawyer you hate least ;-) They have told me that both come across so slimey that you really go with the one that disgusts you least. So you may want to weigh just what kind of case you may be on, as to whether to pull that "law school" card or not ;-)
Old 12-02-2003, 01:48 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 669
I've been called up twice, once was on a Friday, lots of waiting for nothing. The second time was on a Monday, and I ended up in the box. I wasn't trying to get off, but I ended up being excused because I think both sides hated me. To the defendant's lawyer, I said something like "I wonder why this hasn't been pleaded down". When the prosecutor asked each one of us if we would convict a guy for drinking a glass of water if there was a law against it, I was the only potential juror who wouldn't say yes. The proscutor (nicely, of course) pressed me, about such things as the role of the juror and the fact that you have to change laws in the legislature, not the jury rooms, but I insisted that it was "too ridiculous". I was dismissed right after the woman married to a cop.
Old 12-02-2003, 10:35 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 369
Been called four times, served in trials twice. The first time was the best, but also stressful because it was a hung jury and I was the foreman! The deliberations lasted 3 days and the jurors were losing their sanity. I ended up doing lots of counseling (which was my line of work anyway).

Bring a good book, dress neatly, and enjoy the day off.

There are often ways to get out of a trial prior to being selected. I was on a potential pool for a real dumb small town drug dealing charge. To get out, I raised my hands when the judge asked if anyone believed that all drug laws were wrong.
On the other hand, I ended up serving on a physician's medical malpractice trial even though I worked for a health insurance company at the time--everyone was aware of my work but it didn't matter.
Old 12-03-2003, 12:28 AM
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Location: Not here. There.
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Your county might have the one-day one-trial system, which means that if you get through the first day without being assigned to a trial, you're all done for another 12 months. But, "being assigned to a trial" also includes the process of jury selection, even if the final jury hasn't been seated yet, so you might have to stay another day or two and still wind up getting disqualified.

In my county, they (ahem) take no prisoners anymore. There are hardly any valid excuses. Even judges serve as jurors, and when you think you might have a prejudice based on your life experience, it likely won't get you off if they need you.

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