Jury Duty

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Just finished jury duty, which in my case consisted of two days plus an hour or so of voir dire—quite long by L.A. standards, I'm told, even for a felony trial—followed by being the very first person struck on a peremptory challenge by the defense.

It was in some ways interesting: We rarely get to be in the same room as something like a cross-section of our city (minus noncitizens, felons, and some other categories), hearing about their professions, their experiences (as victims and as the accused) with the justice system, and the like. I also got the sense that the other prospective jurors were taking the process seriously, and trying to answer questions candidly and reflectively. Still, it's a reminder that resources that are undervalued are overconsumed, and few resources are as undervalued as prospective juror time.

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83 responses to “Jury Duty

  1. I’m surprised that they didn’t find a way to accidentally keep you from the courtroom beforehand.

  2. Two days does seem like a long time unless it was a capital case. When you referred to an hour of voir dire, do you mean that the lawyers asked you questions for an hour or asked the panel questions for an hour? I’m also curious how you knew that you were defendant’s first strike. Did the court allow the panel to be in the courtroom while the lawyers made their strikes? Did they announce the strikes one at a time?

    I’ve always perceived that jurors take the process seriously and, almost uniformly, enjoy serving on juries. The infuriating part is sitting around waiting in the jury assembly area, etc.

    1. 1. Most of the two days (four hours per day) plus one hour were taken up with questions asked by the judge of all 50+ panel members.

      2. The strikes were announced in open court, in front of the entire panel.

      1. That’s an interesting way to do things. In the dozen or so Florida jurisdictions I did criminal defense trials in, strikes were never announced in open court. All questioning would be completed and then the
        Judge and attorneys would either go into chambers, the jury room or the venire would be sent out and we would go through the strike process. When we all got back together, the panel would be announced. Unless you understood the seating and numbering process, as a juror you would never know if you were struck or just too far down the list for consideration. Having it known in front of an entire panel who struck who strikes me as possibly prejudicial.

        1. For another datum, it’s done in open court in the WA state courts I’ve been in, and also federal. I can’t recall exactly – there might have been a sidebar or two about a for-cause dismissal, but they were mostly obvious. E.g. someone says ‘yes, I was raped 5 years ago’ and gets dismissed. I don’t recall much disagreement between the prosecution and defense on any of the for-cause dismissals.

          This is one federal and a small handful of state voir dires.

          As far as being prejudicial, the for-cause dismissals seemed pretty obvious to me (health reasons, admitted bias (‘they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t guilty’), etc.). The for-cause ones also seemed fairly obvious to me, i.e. if I were the prosecution/defense I would have bumped the same people. The retired gunnery sergeant with the flag pin is likely to be less friendly to the defense than the 23 year old social worker with the peace sign necklace.

          My only complaint is that they didn’t challenge me 🙂

  3. ” their experiences (as victims and as the accused)”

    I’m surprised they let either of those categories onto the jury. Generally they exclude them, as well as those who have had negative experiences with the police.

    1. This was voir dire, so presumably they were explaining while still being in the jury pool. Eugene is using “juror” here to include the jury pool not just the empaneled jurors.

      They also won’t always strike anyone who has been a victim of a crime. If the current case is a murder case from domestic violence if the juror is asked “have you been the victim of a crime” answering something like “someone stole my bicycle 30 years ago” probably won’t get you struck from the jury.

      You’re right about negative experiences with the police. Although I was assured by an ex-court clerk that if you’re worried about repercussions from the cops but do want to get off jury duty the way to answer that is to say you ALWAYS believe the cops because they’re paid to be honest and truthful. The defense will then strike you for cause.

      1. I doesn’t necessarily matter how many liars there are on your jury (who lie to get out jury duty) or victims of similar crimes.

        You want at least one jury member who will stand up to 11 other jury members if that person thinks the state has not proven your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A hung jury is second best to acquittal.

        You hear about juries voting with a few hold outs and the judge ordering them back to resolve it. Those holdouts cave.

        My experiences on juries have shown me that many people are Sheeple and cave to jurors who want Guilty based on how the in-custody defendant looks scary or the police seem to not be lying.

        1. “My experiences on juries ? .” How many deliberating juries have you been on?

          1. 3

            1. Which of the 12 Angry Men were you?

              1. The juror who holds out when the state has not proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

                I even had a juror threaten to have me thrown off the jury for not giving in to the vote guilty jurors and cried to the judge.

                I told the judge how the juror was trying to threaten me to cave to guilty and that I had already made the case of why the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty and that all the other jurors are morons because they think the default is Guilty rather than Not Guilty.

                I also told the judge that if he throws me off the jury and I didn’t violate any rules, I would spend every waking minute helping the Defendant appeal his case.

                The judge kicked the threatening juror off and replace him with an alternate.

                Defendant…Not Guilty.

      2. BaronGouldianFinch: Yes, I meant prospective jurors, and I’ve changed the post slightly to make that clear.

        1. Sorry, I mis-parsed “two days plus an hour or so of voir dire”.

        2. Venireman — “a person summoned for jury service under a venire facias.”

          Maybe a “venireperson” now…

  4. I had a high number and was sent home the last time I was called – an employment case involving discharge of an alleged whistleblower. It was interesting to see people give rambling answers to open-ended questions that gave way more insight into their world views than was necessary under the circumstances. The lawyers picked them for the jury though, no problem.

    1. Its not always that they were “picked” and sometimes its that you only get so many challenges.

      Judgment call on which persons are a threat to acquittal or finding of liability.

  5. Interesting. If I were a defense lawyer I would want you on a jury. I would feel that you would have a particular concern for making sure the state truly met its burden before depriving someone of liberty.

    1. Perhaps the accused is standing trial for fraudulent takedown notices.

    2. If I thought a careful analysis of the evidence raised a reasonable doubt that my client was guilty, I’d surely want EV on the panel. OTOH if I thought a careful analysis of the evidence would result in a conviction, I’d rather have a panel of dimwits and try and throw enough FUD around one to convince one or more to vote to acquit.

      1. I’ve read that dimwits tend to place less weight on scientific evidence than more intelligent jurors. But ironically, given the quality of what passes for science in courtrooms, the dimwits tend to be correct.

    3. Not speaking to EV particularly, but I never liked having lawyers or law professors on my juries because they tended to judge you more based on how you tried the case than the evidence.

  6. Any idea why you were struck? Because you’re a lawyer? Because they knew and did not like your views on some legal or political issues?

    1. I don’t know, but here are three possibilities (and there are of course others):

      1. The defense lawyer did some research and realized that I was politically conservative, and from that inferred that I’m more likely to be pro-prosecution (not a certain inference, of course, but not implausible).

      2. The case involved an alleged violent crime using a gun, so the judge asked who owned guns. I was one of the about five people who raised their hands (this is L.A., though I expect that even so there’d have been more hands if the question was whether someone in the household owned a gun). Perhaps the defense lawyer inferred from this that I was politically conservative, and was therefore more likely to be pro-prosecution (at least given that the case involved alleged violent use of a gun, rather than mere gun possession).

      3. My wife’s theory, which tracks Absaroka’s: The defense lawyer knew he had a weak case, and thought that it might be harder to pull a fast one on the jury if there were jurors who had more experience thinking about legal matters.

      Note also that I left the courtroom right after being struck, which is to say at the very beginning of the strikes, so I couldn’t see the broader pattern. Also, I was juror 11, so maybe the defense lawyer wasn’t so much especially eager to strike me, as just going in numerical sequence through his first set of strikes.

  7. In New York, at least in my experience (judges have a fair amount of latitude), they don’t tell you whether you were excused for cause or because one side or the other exercised a peremptory challenge. They usually examine about 16 people at a time, then send them out of the room, then call them back and seat three or four, with the rest not knowing why they weren’t selected, then examine another 16. Also in New York the clerks are very good about letting you leave if there isn’t another possible voir dire that day, i.e., you can often leave at 2 or 3 pm, even if you have to come back the next day.

  8. This anecdote seems so unlikely that you will likely conclude I am making it up, but I am not. I have in-artfully recounted part of it in the VC forum before, making it sound really unbelievable. For decades I was a corrections officer with the county court system of Seattle escorting defendants to all kinds of court appearances and sitting with them, necessarily over-hearing a great deal on and off the record.

    Then one day I was called for jury duty myself. The defendant was charged with felony DV. He seemed vaguely familiar to me but I didn’t want to be guilty of the racist “they all look alike” response so I answered that I didn’t know him for sure. Surprisingly, the defendant said he knew me. Said I took him to trial once before. He thought I was fair.

    That turned into an hour of questioning. I ended up being seated. It was summer. Very hard to get jurors.

    Four days later, I am lone hold-out for defense 11-1. The other jurors look at me and say, “Your employer pays you to sit here, eat free doughnuts and drink free coffee. Ours do not.”

    It was hard, but I caved to democracy.

    1. “…I caved to democracy.”

      I find this interesting; my sense is that the jury room is explicitly someplace where the majority isn’t supposed to rule. After all, if we wanted we could just have an explicit percentage instead of unanimity.

      I may be misreading your post; I’m reading it to say not that the other jurors convinced you that their view of the facts was correct, but that you agreed to convict in spite of thinking the defendant was either innocent, or that the burden of proof wasn’t met, and voted to convict anyway. Am I misreading that? It seems quite at odds with one’s duty as a juror.

    2. Just to be clear that I understand – in this story, you send an innocent man to jail rather than inconvenience your fellow jurors?

      1. “you send an innocent man to jail ”

        Not guilty is not the same as innocent.

        “Said I took him to trial once before.”

        The other jurors were certainly correct he was guilty. “Innocent” people do not have multiple felony trials, career criminals do.

        1. Well, yes, but. . .and this is what eats at my conscience. As the trial progressed, I began to remember “the victim” from the first trial. I also recalled that I didn’t like her testimony then and it was deja vu all over again. This victim has one assault story down pretty pat, this is a he said/she said world. Or maybe it’s her abuser who is stuck on groundhog day.

          But there’s a problem. I am not supposed to know all this. I am certainly not supposed to share it with other jurors.

          Now I could have stuck to my guns and caused a mistrial, in which the state would have refiled and a new jury would have convicted. Big loser, the taxpayers.

          I balanced all, brought all to mind, and went along with the majority. I didn’t hoodwink anybody to get on that panel. I honestly did not remember a thing about that defendant until the accuser took the stand and started saying some startlingly unforgettable things.

          For the benefit of you lawyers out there, all this was several decades ago and I hope a statute of limitations has run, if anyone would care in the first place. To me, the life lesson is that guy really, really needed to find a new woman.

          1. At the time you realized you recognized the victim from testimony in a previous trial, could you not have sent a note to the judge something like:

            During voir dire I didn’t recognize the victim and indicated so.

            However, upon hearing her testify, I realize I have heard her testify in a another trial and have formed opinions about her credibility on that basis. I find it impossible to separate my judgment of her credibility in this case from her unrelated testimony in the other case. I don’t believe it is possible for me to judge her testimony solely based on what is on the record in this case. All parties are entitled to present their case to objective jurors who can consider only the evidence presented in the instant case. I can no longer do so. I urge the court to replace me with an alternate. I have, of course, not discussed this with anyone prior to this communication.

            It seems very likely the judge, probably after some questioning in chambers with lawyers looking on, would have replaced you with an alternate and the trial could go on without your unavoidable bias being involved. In fact, it seems like the right thing to have done.

        2. “Innocent” people do not have multiple felony trials, career criminals do.

          Is that sarcasm?

          A person who has been accused twice is not a career criminal. Even a person who has been convicted twice is not a career criminal.

          And here’s the thing, even a career criminal did not commit every crime. Perhaps LA has more than one career criminal and the crime before the jury was not committed by the one at the defense table.

          1. No one who is not charged with murder, violent rape or big drug trafficking charges goes to trial on a first indictment. Its too risky. 95% plea, correct.

            Its a reasonable inference that every defendant has a long criminal record. The courts may have to presume innocence, I don’t have to be naive.

            1. “Its a reasonable inference that every defendant has a long criminal record”

              Any leads on what the list of priors was for, say, Martha Stewart, Ted Stevens, George Zimmerman, or Amanda Knox?

              (FWIW, I agree that defendants are usually guilty – that’s hardly surprising if the prosecutors are doing their job – but the function of a jury isn’t to assess whether the defendant is overall a nice guy, it’s to assess whether he is guilty of this specific crime.)

    3. I was once on a civil jury that was struggling to agree on an exact award. Finally, I said, “The time we have spent arguing about this has already cost the defendant more money in legal fees than the amount we are arguing over.”

      This was dispositive, and the jurors arguing for the lower of the two figures had capitulated.

      (The plaintiff and his pastor had been crossing the street when a pickup ran the light and ran over at least the pastor, crushing his pelvis. There was a question whether the plaintiff had even been touched by the truck, or if he had just collapsed and suffered subsequently from the shock of the thing. We gave him three grand or so.)

      1. Nice leadership to push the jury toward resolving the damages award.

  9. You got lucky. Last and only pool I was part of was a California grand jury pool (I almost won the lottery!), and they randomly picked people and alternates from the pool, empaneled all of them, and basically all I ever got to do was sit in the room and say my name twice and listen to the picks answer questions. A bit of a melodramatic end to the process initiated by the jury letter to start.

  10. I served a few years ago, in a dental malpractice case, and was really surprised to be picked. I’m an attorney, retired from a litigation consulting practice (working at an accounting firm, advising litigators on fraud investigations and damage calculations). Also the defendant dentist was the son of my own childhood dentist.

    Fascinating experience in many ways. In the end, it seemed clear to most of us that the problem was with the implants being installed, not the dentist doing it. Nevertheless there were two jurors among the 12 who figured “The patient suffered. The dentist or his insurer have deep pockets, so let’s give the patient something”. It took an hour-or-so to persuade them otherwise, and we ultimately ruled for the defendant.

    The defense attorney briefly spoke to some of us in the hallway after, and seemed surprised only by the time it had taken to reach a verdict. I suspect there was other litigation going on against the device manufacturer, and the plaintiff was just kind of going through the motions with our suit.

    1. Did civil trials require unanimous decision in your jurisdiction (I’ve never lived where that was the case)? If not, why not just come back with a 10-2 decision in favor of the dentist and go home/back to work rather than wasting 12 hours of juror time?

      1. In Georgia, a unanimous civil verdict is required.

  11. “few resources are as undervalued as prospective juror time.”

    If you mean undervalued in the cash money, homey, then yeah. But the last time I had jury duty, all the cases were settled, and the judge made a point of telling us how much he appreciated our service, and that our mere presence had encouraged pleas in all the day’s cases. Most of us left the room feeling valued appropriately, if not priced properly.

    1. Same situation, but I felt used, not valued, to learn that the prosecutors used the sight of a jury to bully the defendants into plea bargains.

      1. Some defendants get better deals the day of their jury trial.

        Some don’t or the prosecutor just gets made that they had to prepare for trial, so might as well go to trial.

        1. “Some defendants get better deals the day of their jury trial.”

          I was on a jury pool 10 or so years ago where it became apparant to me that the prosecution had offered the defendant a plea bargin with a term equal to the maximum term. I requested to speak to the judge separately (so as not to get the entire jury pool struck). I told the judge based on voi dure, that the defense was only hoping to cut a better deal in the sentencing phase of the trial – ie not trying to prove his innocence – just hoping for a shorter sentence in the sentencing phase.
          The attorney’s reaction pretty much acknowledged my statement, but it did get me struck.

      2. Are you ready to pay higher taxes to hold all those trials?

        1. No need. Take it from the tax money allotted to pay for Obamaphones and PrEP drugs.

        2. There would be less trials because District Attorney offices would not necessarily see their budgets go up.

          It would force prosecutors to better decide which cases need to go to trial, which cases need better deals, and most of the cases would get dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence to win.

          More criminal cases need to be dismissed because they are bullshit or lack sufficient evidence to convict. When plea bargain rates are as high as they are, prosecutors can afford to take bullshit cases to trial.

  12. Courts seem to be getting better about reducing the burden, at least in large cities. It used to be essentially a two-week hiatus from work wasted mostly waiting in a cramped room. Last time I was picked, I just called in twice per day and had to go to the courthouse only once, for about 6 hours total. While there, I had a work area with fast internet access so I could work remotely. It was hardly any imposition at all.

    That was a few years ago. Since they, they’ve moved the jury pool room from the basement to the top floor of the courthouse (27 stories tall, with good views of the city). They were also adding in other amenities to facilitate those working remotely or just passing time by watching something on a phone/tablet/tv.

  13. Just hypothetically, if the judge gave you a legal instruction which you knew to be wrong, would you follow the instruction anyway?

    1. Deferring to Not Guilty because the court or police or prosecutor messes up is exactly how our system is designed.

      The default is NOT GUILTY. If you have a doubt, then that is literally the “Reasonable Doubt” standard for not convicting people.

    2. Just hypothetically, if the judge gave you a legal instruction which you knew to be wrong, would you follow the instruction anyway?

      FWIW – What has gotten me struck during voi dure a couple of times is my personal conviction that I have moral and ethical duty to decide the case on A) the facts and B) an understanding of the law as it applies to those facts and to be sure the applicable is being applied correctly to those facts.

      Judges get real bend out of shape believing they are the sole diviner of the law.

    3. Absolutely not.

      As a juror, you represent the community. You aren’t an assistant to the judge.

      The question before you is, did the government prove its case against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt? Not, does the judge think this guy did it?

  14. Eleven dead horses, the defendant was supposed to have abandoned them in winter in a high valley without food. The charge was written that he had to be found guilty of all 11 or none. I was the holdout juror because the prosecutor did a bad job proving that he was responsible for killing some of the horses. I caved because it wasn’t fair to let him off because the prosecutor was a moron. Turns out, when the animal control officer tried to visit and get some food to the horses he took a shot at her. Evidence not admitted at trial. Jury duty is important.

    1. What is so hard about following the law as instructed and the evidence presented?

      When people say, I was a hold out but….then I caved.

      Notice the jurors for Guilty rarely come out and say they caved.

      You people make me sick. When it happens to you that you are accused of a crime and your jury convicts you over the wrong color of your socks.

      Freedom isnt free.

      1. loveconstitution1789, there’s a reason why juries deliberate together and it’s not just twelve independent votes.

      2. It wasn’t hard, it was unjust. He was completely and undeniably guilty of starving eight horses to death. Everyone agreed, including me, no question. If I recall correctly the prosecutor had 1 charge with 11 counts and all the counts had to be proven. If he had filed a separate charge for each dead horse, there was no question that we would have found him guilty of eight. I didn’t cave to peer pressure, letting him walk because the prosecutor charged him incorrectly was unjust. He starved eight horses to death, any one of which would have earned him a conviction. And you want to let him go. Aren’t you a swell guy.

        1. Jury nullification may have a legitimate role in finding a defendant not guilty. The inverse should never have a role in finding a defendant guilty.

          1. In a universal franchise, one man one vote system, I don’t agree.

        2. You said that you caved.

          I wasn’t there, so I going by what you said.

          I eat animals, so letting animals starve is not some horrible act that deserves prison time. Only fanatics want people to go to jail for killing animals. If you eat animals, you’re a hypocrite because your steak/hamburger/chicken nuggets were killed to feed you.

          In some states, animals are property so how in living fuck do you reconcile sending someone to jail for destroying their own property.

          At worst a civil fine for making animals sad before you kill them.

          1. Let me understand your position. You want to buy 15 horses and confine them in a pasture in a high valley in the fall. As the winter progresses, either through indifference or intent, you don’t give them anything to eat and some die. While this is happening the people who live up there drive past the horses and watch them starve. They are upset by seeing horses starve so they call the sheriff. The sheriff sends the animal control lady she goes to your house. You tell her that the horses are being fed and anyway it is none of her business. She leaves. More horses die – a total of eleven starve to death – literally skin and bones in the snow. She comes back, you shoot at her. Either through indifference or incompetence, you miss. Your county sheriff thinks that shooting at the animal control officer and starving the horses to death are both criminal but he doesn’t have a witness for the shooting and he can’t find the bullets so he charges you with animal cruelty.

            According to what you wrote, you think a parking ticket is appropriate, like you kicked your dog in public.

            So we have established what you are. Apparently you don’t like it when a jury finds someone guilty who clearly deserves it. Tough. You and your buddy “badlib” seem to think that you can do whatever you want to offend the community sensibilities but the community should very strictly follow some rules. If you don’t live up to my expectations, why can’t I live down to yours?

  15. Coincidentally, same with me last week and same result. Pierce County (WA) Superior Court.

    First day mostly just sitting in the jury waiting room with hundreds of my close friends (close as in proximity rather than relationship). Toward end of first day, selected as part of a 50-person jury pool for a specific trial/courtroom. Waited more as some of that group started called up to the courtroom for individual interviews.

    Second day, more individual interviews (ended up as about 20 people but not me. I assume identification was based on responses to the juror questionaires we had all filled out earlier). After lunch, 36 people including me were brought into the courtroom. Judge introduced himself, court staff, prosecutor, defense counsel and defendent. Gave initial instructions (don’t talk to anyone about the case, don’t try to research anything, and defense doesn’t have to prove anything while prosecution has to prove guilt).

    Judge then read, from the state code, the charged offense (domestic violence, communication of specific threats, violation of restraining order, firearm used in offense) but didn’t include anything about the specific case. Then an hour of voir dire, mandatory 15 minute break, and another 90 minutes voir dire before being sent home.

    1. Second day, another hour of voir dire, 30 minutes of attorneys/judge exchanging papers and whispering to each other, then 13 jurors selected and seated in jury box. Judge thanks all, lets us know our participation was valuable and appreciated, and that our non-selection didn’t necessarily reflect anything about any of us individually but that there were simply more qualified potential jurors than were needed (no one was told why they were or were not chosen). We were released and I went and had a nice lunch downtown with my daughter.

      Voir dire was interesting, and apparently much longer than Eugene’s LA experience. Lots of time spend on jurors’ backgrounds and wide variety of work experience, ranging from one young man who had never been employed, lots of currently working people, and bunch of retired (me, retired as USAF SMSgt in 1996 after 21+ years, all in IT; then retired from IBM in 2017 after 20+ years managing an information security & privacy consulting group).

      After that, Most questions were simple yes/no asked of everyone at once (if yes, hold up a card with your juror number until attorney question says your number and clerk records answer). In addition to to the normal questions on prior experiences with domestic violance and involvement with the legal system, attorneys asked about gun ownership, membership in pro- or anti-gun groups, and strong pro- or anti-gun views. For that and other questions ‘yes’ answerers got follow-up questions about specific views.

      1. My answers were that my wife’s best friend had been a domestic violance victim 10 years before, and that I was in basic agreement with Justice Scalia’s Heller decision stating 2nd Amendment did reflect an individual right to gun ownership, while preserving the right of state/local governments to impose rigorous possession/use restrictions appropriate to their environments as long, as those restrictions did not result in defacto gun bans.

        Majority of people did own guns, several were NRA or gun club members, and several described their strong pro-/anti-gun feelings. Some people I recall expressing both firm NRA/pro-gun and firm anti-gun views were selected for the jury. I don’t recall much about others although there did seem to a a prepondence of retired folks chosen (more than half).

        Overall, I was satisfied. I did not particularly desire to be chosen (I’ve served on juries twice before) but not because I had any objections or would encounter any hardships. When asked, I let them know I didn’t believe my previous experiences would prevent me from rendering a fair judgement based on the facts, and only issue was annoyance of returning to a manatory schedule of getting up and going to work again, fighting traffic, finding parking, etc.

        Another exciting day in the life of retirement.

  16. A question has occurred to me about the voir dire process. I confessed to a small bit of likely inconsequential knowledge that the voir dire process would normally preclude. However, a lot of other jurors may find themselves in the situation after a trial has begun where they recall that they were asked if they knew a whole long list of names, and they said no, or they knew much about a whole long list of incidents, places, or situations, and they said no, but once the witness takes the stand or physical evidence is being shown to them they realize they know a whole lot about that person or subject after all, they had merely forgotten.

    I once was on a murder trial where an immigrant father from Iraq murdered his daughter. The crime scene was the first apartment my new wife and I shared for two years. I hadn’t recognized the address at first, but then it all started coming back. He shot his teen daughter in the dining room where I had eaten countless meals. It was even the same dining table and chairs. She refused to wash his car.

    You are a juror. What do you do with privileged or insider info or insight you suddenly realize you have? In theory you tell the clerk and they tell the judge and a jury alternate takes your place. In practice, most jurors are too frightened to do anything, although sometimes they blab to other jurors.

    1. I was on a civil jury and during testimony, I found out that the defendant and I worked for the same company. I immediately held up my hand and informed the judge. They asked me a few questions and decided I was good to stay. (The company was Hewlett Packard, so it wasn’t like we worked together.)

      In your case, it’s weird and spooky, but unless the layout of the apartment (or something like that, that you knew and the other jurors did not) was relevant, I don’t see why you should be thrown off.

    2. I would send a note to the judge the moment I become aware of the inadvertent misstatement during voir dire.

      In the note I would explain what the question I answered incorrectly was and what the correct answer is. I wouldn’t explain WHY I recalled the apartment – just that I realized I was familiar with it. If I thought my newly realized familiarity was biasing me, I would say that (but not WHY it biased me or to which party’s advantage I was likely biased).

      I wouldn’t, of course, talk to anyone else about it.

      I would answer whatever questions the judge asked me (presumably in chambers) and answer them completely but carefully without expanding beyond the boundaries of the specific question.

  17. I’m always struck by how many trial attorneys always say “no” when I ask them if they ever wanted to be on a jury.

    1. Our system expects jurors to recuse themselves, perhaps over issues about which they have no clue, but in my years in court several times I witnessed judges refuse to recuse themselves on matters that a fair and impartial person would have ample reason to question their lack of bias. I am thinking of one lady judge who greeted every jury twice every day (morning and afternoon) with her cute dog picture and doggie breed category winner, who refused to recuse herself from a car theft case involving the killing of a car lot guard dog, with a charge of animal cruelty included.

  18. Last time I was called for jury duty I had to request a beg-off as I was scheduled for surgery that day. I think I would have preferred the jury duty.

  19. I was on jury duty a while back in Illinois. The charge was a sulky driver who allegedly threw a race for a bribe. The state was really trying to clean up the massive corruption around horse racing in the state.

    After the trial we gather in the jury room. The bailiff said he was going for a pot of coffee for us. By the time he got back we had voted and filled out the paperwork to declare the defendant not guilty. Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney said it was the shortest deliberation they had seen.

  20. “few resources are as undervalued as prospective juror time.”

    Very true. I sat for five hours while the attorneys questioned jurors in the pool, asking the same questions over and over. The judge wouldn’t let us read books or newspapers, and not surprisingly a number of prospective jurors fell asleep. The bailiff would gently nudge them awake. Clearly our time was not valued.

  21. I’ve been called once. Wasn’t picked from the pool to be one of the first 14 questioned. Was a DUI case. One of the questions asked was “Do you know anyone who’s been convicted of a DUI?” My answer would have been, “I was in the Navy for 21 years.”

  22. It has been my experience that a “cross-section” of prospective jurors consists almost entirely of morons. It has also been my experience that nearly half of the prospective jurors were dismissed because they do not speak English.

  23. I’ll try to prolong this a bit by suggesting the increasing sharp and bitter political divide in our society is already causing some problems in jury deliberations involving hot button issues. This could become troublesome to individual jurors because of that voir dire process in which they are asked basically asked to self-evaluate if they can be fair, unbiased, etc, and also perhaps to reveal any past associations (as best they can remember) with individuals or groups that may seek to influence policies in a democracy.

    All those could be loaded questions in a Mueller/Weissman perjury entrapment sense if a really unpopular verdict is returned and charges of improper juror conduct start flying around. Just for fun I am going to suggest that every second of every jury deliberation be cctv recorded, encrypted, and transmitted to a secret storage vault beneath the Supreme Court of the U.S. Only in the instance that the case arrives there would the file be viewed, and only by the justices.

    1. Just realized this is a moot point. Jurors refuse to be separated from their cell phones, which are intrinsically covert surveillance devices. Betcha we here more about this in some spectacular case to come.

      1. homonym typing dyslexia increases with age

  24. In re community crosssecton, I was once in a pool of 100 veniremen. The judge lectured at length on the definition of felon, and then instructed all potential felons to come to the bench for his determination. Eighty percent of my fellow citizens considered themselves potential felons. I have never forgotten the lecture and this judges definition; liable to a year and a day of any sort of state supervision.

  25. Happened to me last year too. Wasted two days before the defense attorney used a peremptory on me (the only attorney). It’d be nice if they did that part first.

  26. Having never been selected for jury duty (I lived OCONUS for 24 years), and reading the comments above, I’m surprised how big a part of the judicial process jury selection is and am also now wondering how constitutional it is.

    A6 talks about an “impartial jury” but where is the line drawn?

    Why did they ask about NRA membership or if someone knew someone who had a DUI?

    How do the responses translate into impartiality?

    I can see potential jurors being asked if they have some particular nexus to the particular case, and heck, even ask them if they can be impartial, but not sure about asking for more background information after that.

    1. There are usually follow-up questions. I’d never strike someone for knowing someone who had a DUI, but I’d always ask the follow-up questions on if they thought the person was treated unfairly, etc. Rarely will your first answer get you struck — it’s usually the follow-ups.

  27. Only ever even been called once, took about 3 hours to get voir dire’d out and go home.

  28. Having sat through many hundreds of voir dires, and having my odd background with a master’s in counseling and years as a certified drug and alcohol counselor on a reservation, where I heard lots of bullshit, after retirement it occurred to me that I would make a pretty good jury selection consultant. There are two kinds of those–the sharks who work for really big bucks and the idealists, who work for free. I’m not sure there are any of the latter out there, but I am available.

  29. I got picked a while back for a criminal trial, only time I haven’t been struck. The prosecution liked me because I was a white male business owner, and the defense liked me because I said that I thought the system worked, if at all, only for those with the means to defend themselves.

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