New Way of Avoiding Jury Duty

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Tell the prosecution you watch CSI:

More than 60 million people watch the "CSI" shows every week, which means a lot of potential jurors now have high expectations of forensic evidence. "The CSI Effect" is being felt in courtrooms from coast to coast, Kauffman points out.

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  1. Kerry Howley,

    Trust me, trial attorneys (and especially prosecuting attorneys) are howling about this development.

  2. Hmmm…will parents start being less responsible with their children, since the kidnappings on “Without a Trace” often have happy endings?

  3. Why would anyone want to get out of jury duty? What could be better than sitting in judgement of your fellow man? ūüėČ

  4. I have jury duty tomorrow. I’m going to wear my most conservative suit, a white shirt and a red tie. I’m also thinking about bringing a copy of Soldier of Fortune or something like that to read. Any other advice out there?

  5. Probably wouldn’t hurt to have a copy of Guns & Ammo and a Bible…

  6. Nice Guy,

    My advice is that you serve if you can. You might be the only voice of sanity on the jury.

  7. Just tell ’em you know all about jury nullification and it’s cheaper than making a run for the House.

  8. “seemed very dismissive of circumstantial evidence”
    Gee, they make it sound like that’s a bad thing.

  9. Omigod! A Bible! That’s perfect!! I’ll also bring a highlighter to underline random passages in the Old Testament.

    WSDave:
    You’re very kind, but me being a “sane voice”? Haw haw!!

  10. i have jury duty in a few months (had to postpone for a friend’s wedding) and i’m torn.

    on the one hand, i’m not sure i’ll pass jury muster. i’m fucking weird, have no hair and use long run-on sentences. would i want to be trapped on a jury with me?

    on the other hand, it would be interesting and i would be the voice of reason, to a degree, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed.

  11. dhex,

    Does your state allow for the lawyers to do the voir dire or is it the judge?

  12. Gary,

    Where do you stand on the serve/get out issue?

  13. Indeed, avoiding jury duty is easy. The hard part is actually to get on a jury.

    How does one answer the judge’s question, “Can you reach your verdict based upon only the evidence presented in the trial and my instructions about the law, even if you disagree with those instructions or the law?”

    “No” just didn’t seem to work for me. The judge didn’t even ask the obvious follow up, “Do you think you will have a disagreement with the law in this particular case?” I got booted.

  14. MikeP,

    The important word is “Can”. You “can” do it, whether or not you “would” do it.

  15. Ah, but if you make it through voir dire, then you get the juror’s oath, where the “can” goes beyond “would” to “will”:

    Do you, and each of you, understand and agree that you will well and truly try the cause now pending before this court, and a true verdict render according only to the evidence presented to you and to the instructions of the court?

    Considering that before voir dire you were given the “purjury admonishment”, the ice now becomes quite thin.

    California juror info: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jury/step1.htm

    Your state may differ.

  16. Having never seen CSI I’m probably ideal for a jury. I’m always amazed at people’s faith in forensic evidence. I suppose that directly after a shootout, where an innocent was shot, we could gather up the universe of the four guns used, and take balistic samples immediately thereafter, we could determine which of the four guns fired the errant shot.

    But people believe that in a universe of 200 million guns, a ballistic trace is possible. A confidence rate of 95% would still result in ten million false positives. Forensics starts to break down as the universe expands. (Insert favorite Stephen Hawkings joke here.)

    Now for my jury story. Upon entrance to the courthouse, we potential jurors watched a video of how to be a juror, and then were asked to raise our right hands and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the state of New Jersey. I raised my left hand, and was told by the bailiff to raise the other one. I responded that, no I had a question. I was familiar with the US constitution, but hadn’t read the NJ constitution lately. Could he provide one for me to read so that I could swear to uphold it?

    The reply? “Just shut up and swear.”

  17. gary – it’s new york state, so i believe lawyers get that particular fun fun.

  18. My mom just tells them she’s a social worker and the prosecution drops her right there.

    If it’s a drug case, just say you’re in favor of legalizing marijuana.

  19. WSDave,

    They would never pick me for jury duty. I’ve been to law school.

    As a rule trial attorneys like to create a jury out of people they can sway via emotion; therefore, the theory is that they should steer clear of folks trained in the law, scientists, etc.

    But I would have no problem serving on a jury.

  20. A friend of mine is a lawyer, and one of the partners of his firm ended up on a jury. (And they even elected him foreman.) He joked about what the other people in the pool were like that he got picked.

  21. Gary’s right. My science training has kept me off of every jury for which I’ve been called.

    One time in Tucson city court, I was selected for a DUI case. One of the questions was if we had any particular opinion about the reliablity of a particular breathalyzer-type device. I said that I was not familiar with that particular device, but that anyone who’s worked in a lab knows, all measuring devices have instrumental error.

    “Thank you, sir. You can go home now”.

  22. Brian,

    Classic.

  23. Madog said

    “If it’s a drug case, just say you’re in favor of legalizing marijuana.”

    Why not get on the jury and refuse to convict if it is a simple possesion chage. For a dealer, that would depend on the circumstances.

  24. I get tossed from juries both because I like Law and Order and because I am trained in science.

  25. TJ,

    Trust me. Anyone with a tiny amount of criticial thinking skills will be tossed if possible. Trial court attorneys want to sway you with emotion.

  26. Want to avoid jury duty? Don’t register to vote. (If, however, you live in a state where they pick jurors from the DMV Licensed Drivers list, then take George Carlin’s advice: tell the judge that you’d make a great juror because “I can spot a guilty person just by looking at him!”)

  27. ?Trust me. Anyone with a tiny amount of criticial thinking skills will be tossed if possible.?

    In my as yet only jury interview I was asked by the judge, as were all the potential jurors, if I had any views about drug prohibition (young kid caught with a bit of meth). I responded that I thought all drugs, without exception should be legal; and further, prohibition was an inexcusable infringement on personal liberty. That is how you avoid jury duty.

  28. I was sent a questionaire which asked if I could base my decision on the facts presented in court and the judge’s instructions regarding the law?

    I answered “Yes, as long as the Judge’s instructions don’t violate my constitutional rights of jury nullification.”

    I never heard back from the court and those who follow my advise don’t get called either. Go figure?!

  29. NoStar,

    The funny thing is that you aren’t supposed to know about that right.

  30. A quicker way to dodge jury duty–bring a copy of The Juror’s Handbook, available from the Fully Informed Jury Association, to the waiting area.

    The instant any court-employed polit-bureaucrat notices you’re reading anything from FIJA, you’ll be booted out.

  31. Isn’t it great that they don’t actually want anyone with any critical thinking skills or those who might question government authority at all? What a fucking joke. Couldn’t you just lie and pretend you’re really some sensitive house-husband who watches a lot of TV and thinks the government is a-ok? Then you could at least divide the jury if it was over something like drug possession.

    Assholes.

  32. Since I actually am a forensic scientist, I don’t worry too much about being selected for jury duty, but in Ontario I’m not actually disqualified because of my profession.

  33. See? SEE how fucking horrible CSI truly is? Ban it! BAAANNN IT!

  34. WSDave said:

    “Why would anyone want to get out of jury duty? What could be better than sitting in judgement of your fellow man? ;)”

    It’s spelled “judgment” dumass

  35. The instant any court-employed polit-bureaucrat notices you’re reading anything from FIJA, you’ll be booted out. – dcf

    Be careful about that. FIJA activists who have tried to hand out literature close to courthouses have sometimes been arrested for disturbing the peace, contempt of court, or whatever.

    Kevin

  36. I think the key is just being brutally honest.

    Not unlike Nostar, I informed three different judges I wouldn’t be able to follow their instructions if “they deviated from my personal interpretation of the Constitution” and was instantly excused.

    On another occasion, the judge asked if “there is anyone who believes they cannot be a fair and impartial juror”?

    I merely gave my honest opinion and described the plaintiff as “an out-of-town carpetbagger trying to extort money from a small business” and was excused.

  37. I was on deck to serve today, but they told me not to bother because I wasn’t “cool enough”. Actually, my designated number was above what they needed for today. So I’m free for another three years.

    As I thought about it more, it would’ve been fun to be a “stealth jurer”. Go in there looking like some asshole Republican (which I can do easily), and end up being a wrench in drug prosecutions. A simple possession charge? They don’t have a case! Get it out of here!

  38. Dear Mr. Nice Guy, before you attempt introducing sanity into a jury room, consider the case of Laura Kriho, linked above.

  39. Actually click on my name for the link.

  40. FIFJ and such are irrelevant. As mentioned several times above, ‘they’ don’t want people with pre-existing thoughts or ideas on jury’s. That’s why they game the system via voir dire. Voir dire is where they weed out anyone who’s done any thinking prior to showing up in court. (I should have thought CSI viewers would be acceptable) When I was called to jury duty, I was prepared to refuse to answer any questions other than; I am a US citizen, I am so many years old, and I live as such and such address. I was selected for a jury, but the case was settled at the last minute prior to voir dire.

    BTW who exactly are ‘they’? That would be the goddamned-fucking-lawyers (the word ‘lawyers’ should always be modified such) who tyrannize society via their nefarious cabal.

  41. Ayatollah:

    Thanks. Now my cynicism has reached a new low. Justice is not only blind, but deaf and dumb as well.

  42. Judge: Mr. David. Can you be an impartial juror in this case.

    Larry: No your honor I can not.

    Judge: And why is that Mr. David?

    Larry: Because the defendant is a Negro.

    (Cut to Larry walking out of the courthouse whistling.)

  43. The issue with CSI was that in the recent Robert Blake Case, the jury demanded that the prosecution show them that the murder weapon was in his hands. They also developed their own time line of the events that contradicted the one the prosecutor was peddling. Interviews after the case tell of one last juror holding out for a guilty verdict. He was ready to cave into the non-guilty majority, but they wouldn’t let him cave unless he was really sure that Blake was innocent. They were ready to declare themselves hung than take the easy way out. While you guys are all smirking about getting out of jury duty, I would be proud to serve besides 11 concientious and honest people as these.

  44. 1) “Why would anyone want to get out of jury duty? What could be better than sitting in judgement of your fellow man? ;)”

    2) “It’s spelled “judgment” dumass”

    That’s “dumbass,” you idiut!

  45. Hey, the joke isn’t working anymore. “Dumass” is objectively incorrect, whereas “judgment” and “judgement” are equally appropriate…

    Just as Texas and Tejas are equally appropriate…
    Ditto for M?xico and M?jico.

  46. Oh, nitpick.

    As for Texas and Tejas, and Mexico and Mejico —

    Politically correct bilingual caca del toro! Youse come to our country, youse learn yourself to speak our language!

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