De-nied

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I'm back from Jury Duty, and I've been denied.

It was a criminal case in District Court, and I was preemptively challenged by the defense. The case involved allegations of menacing, recklessly discharging a firearm, disorderly conduct, etc. There was alcohol involved, and two of the prosecution witnesses were Douglas County Sheriff's Deputies.

I think I was dismissed not for being a dirty, dirty liberal, but for one of two other reasons (or both): My father was a Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy before his death; and as a member of the Armed Forces, I've been trained in the safe handling of firearms, including the standard rules about mixing alcohol and firearms.

Hint to Dick Cheney and today's defendant: Not typically considered to be a great idea. It tends to lead to shooting people in the face or being charged with criminal activity.

Of course, I don't know that's why I was dismissed - it could be that the defense attorneys simply didn't want engineers on the jury, or veterans, or Hot Chicks with white hair. That's the nature of the preemptive challenge.

I'm disappointed, though. I was looking forward to the process.

15 comments:

John the Scientist said...

Uh, why did you tell them your father was a deputy - did they ask?

I think if they know that you'll never sit on a jury.

Wendy said...

What?!? The white hair didn't get you a free pass into the jury box! It shows maturity and experience and all you're all that and a bag o' chips!!

Oh, wait, they want the lowest common denominator, not the highest.

Sorry. I've had to sit in on many voir dire sessions with the attorneys. I'm the one sitting on the side furiously taking notes for the crew at the table up front.

Well, risk management in any form is a bitch, especially when you know what the rules are and why they're in place. I have to try and pound that into the hard heads of college students on a regular basis.

Better luck next time.

WendyB_09

Janiece Murphy said...

John, they did ask if we had any family members in law enforcement on the questionnaire, and specifically asked during voir dire if anyone had any experience with firearms and firearm training.

I think you may be right - I'm screwed.

Damn tradition of service...

Wendy said...

John - standard voir dire questions revolve around exempting common experiences & relationships:

Does any member of your family work in law enforcement...do you know anyone that's a sheriff...do you own a gun...do you know anyone that owns a gun...what do you think of people that own guns...

The questioning keeps on along those lines until they eliminate all but the number required for the jury panel and alternates that have the least in common with the parties involved in the case.

WendyB_09

John the Scientist said...

"The questioning keeps on along those lines until they eliminate all but the number required for the jury panel and alternates that have the least in common with the parties involved in the case."


Uh, I thought it was supposed to be a jury of one's peers. MY peers own guns. o.O

Seriously, while common experiences may bias, not having any makes for a different kind of bias.

Of course, if I was innocent, I'd want people with the most firearms experience on the jury, but if I was guilty...

My mom was once exempted from jury duty because she taught the Assistant DA in 4th and 5th grade. THAT made her feel old. :D

Wendy said...

That's why they call it striking the jury! They strike off the jurors they don't want on the panel.

I'm with you on that - if I was on trial for something, I'd want to know the people on the jury at least understand the basics of what I'm being charged with.

But, I was once denied jury duty because I was a paralegal for a personal injury attorney AND the case was wrongful death/ malpractice. And one of the defense attorney's knew my boss at the time, had been in law school with him.

WendyB_09

Jim Wright said...

It was probably the UCF T-shirt (You were wearing the UCF shirt, right?)

Or maybe the "Bring Back Hanging!" bumper sticker on your jeep?

What?

Janiece Murphy said...

Jim, the only thing on the Jeep is this.

Anne C. said...

Sorry to hear you were dismissed, but at least you got into the room to be questioned! (Not like me who sat in a room all morning and read a book. OK, I guess that wasn't so bad...)

neurondoc said...

Husband once went to jury duty unshowered, unshaven and in clothes that had been put under the mattress for the night. He is a the sole proprietor of a small business and literally couldn't lose the work days if he had been picked. He said he was shuffled out rather speedily...

mattw said...

You weren't polishing the Shovel of Doom(tm) while they were questioning you, were you?

MWT said...

If it works the way it did when I was doing it in Indiana, they'll probably call you back a couple more times before the timer runs out. ;)

Janiece Murphy said...

MWT, in Colorado, you can only be called once per calendar year, even if you're not selected to serve.

Mister Crowley said...

I've always wanted to attend a jury selection hearing. We don't have juries in India, so it's just us lawyer boys (and girls) duking it out before a (usually) bored judge.

Janiece Murphy said...

Mister Crowley, much of the process was not transparent to the Jurors. The questionnaires and strategies for determining who will serve (and who will be dismissed), is a both a joint decision between the attorneys and the Judge, and an individual decision on the part of the attorneys. Nobody tells the Jurors shit.