Monday, July 01, 2013

Jury Duty

Reason magazine has an article on jury duty titled Twelve Apathetic Men. I'm not sure I like the title. Sure, most of us would prefer not to hassle with jury duty, but we still show up when summoned. Okay, maybe some of us show up when summoned, but the few people I've known that actually got chosen and served on jury duty told me they were anything but apathetic.

One gal I know that served says she was really impressed with her fellow jurors and how they really tried to do the right thing and come up with a just verdict. Another gal related a similar experience.

Maybe there could be some improvements made to the jury system, but seems to me the system works pretty well here in Humboldt.

I believe I've shown up a couple times when summoned and there were at least a hundred others alongside me. Maybe more. One time I never got called to the jury box. The other time I actually got called and they asked me about my situation. Once I told them about the wife's cancer and having to go to UCSF fairly often the judge let me go.

Lately I've been trying to go down to the Jury Commissioner's office and get a one year deferment. That's easy enough to do, assuming I can drag myself down there. Last year it completely slipped my mind and I missed it. This year I told myself to go down and get a deferment well in advance of the show up date but one thing led to another and I never made it.

Come the day to show up I was actually feeling a little guilty. I had work to do and didn't want to get stuck for hours down at the courthouse. I was considering just blowing it off. After I got out of bed I got to thinking about it, took a look at the summons and decided to call the number on the summons. They have a notification system to let you know if your jury group has to show up.

Maybe I don't have to show up anyway? So I call the number and find my group's summons has been cancelled. Sweet! Now I don't have to feel guilty about not showing up.

I'm not sure I'd want to be in the position to pass judgement on most people. Still, I think jury duty is important and told the judge that one time I wouldn't mind serving for three days or so, if it was later in the summer when I wasn't busy. Maybe one of these days I will?


At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Julie Timmons said...

I get a notice every year. Last time I actually served it was for about a week. Afterward, the judge (I believe it was Cissna) sent me and I presume all the jurors a HANDWRITTEN THANK-YOU NOTE. When I picked myself up off the floor, I was impressed. Did it make me any more willing to serve? Sure.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

What was the charge in the trial you served on?

At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

to think how many Americans WON'T SERVE because they don't believe in a system that contstantly abuses them.

The vicitm class gets larger, and less people continually get "summoned for jury duty".

Tha spells disaster for a system that is broken already and much more so dependent upon the few who engage in that system.


At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Julie Timmons said...

Fred, I honestly don't recall the exact charge(s) but it involved one of these Eureka West Side Stories where two groups (not gangs, neighbors) were feuding and one was accused of damaging the other's car. There was more, which I mercifully forgot upon leaving the Courthouse.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

One of the gals who related her experience of jury duty was a girlfriend of mine. This was back around '74ish. Hers was a trial for Assault With a Deadly Weapon, or something along that line, where a guy stabbed another guy at a party.

She remarked that the system didn't seem right as questions were left unanswered and there were a number of questions the jury had that weren't brought up in the trial.

For instance, the defendant left the party and came back when he ended up stabbing the victim. The jury wanted to know why he came back. What was in his mind? Neither prosecution or defense broached the subject.

She suggested the jury should be able to ask questions of the witnesses, victim and defendant if those questions weren't answered in the trial. I thought she made a good point.

At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What bothers me is that my wife and I get called up *every year*. Is the pool of available jurors really, really small?


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