Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jury Duty

A jury, pulled from the general population, is a palladium of our liberty, enshrined in our Constitution, and the citizen's best view of the judicial system.  The law, after all, and the Constitution, is vested in The People, the source of all power in our country.

All that sounds good on paper, but the simple fact of the matter is that most people don't give a flying fritter about the judicial system, preferring to avoid it at all costs.    And, the few times I've been called for jury duty, my perception is that the judiciary holds the citizenry in barely concealed contempt, treating a jury venire not unlike cattle in sale barn, shuffled from one pen to another, sorted, graded and goaded until the entire crowd is frustrated, aggravated, and discombobulated.

I was originally called for a criminal case, but the defendant, who we learned later was a bltiple offender, accused  of a violent, senseless string of acts, chose to plead guilty ranter than risk a jury trial.  He was sent away for a long time, and shouldn't be a threat to anyone for a good while.

The jury pool was forced to stand out in the hall while justice ground on the violent accused, and then we were told we wouldn't be needed for the criminal trial.  But, just down the hall, the judge there was trying a civil matter and shout  half of her jury pool had not shown up.  so we were trotted down the hall to help her.  We waited and waited and waited, and at about 2:30, a goodly number of us where sent away with instructions to call later to see if we'd be needed tomorrow.

I, like about 40 or 50 other citizens, will call the Courthouse tonight to see if our day will be ruined tomorrow.  My duty is not yet complete, it is only held in abeyance.

I stand with Mark Twain on the jury system.
We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read.- 4th of July speech 1873


BobF said...

Reported for jury duty, sat and sat and sat, then my number was called along with a LOT of others. Followed the deputy over to the OTHER courthouse. Finally seated again we were informed we'd won the Cracker Jack prize of grand jury duty. For 6 months. Yippee.

Good thing they didn't tell us before the walk to the other building -- deputy may have had to expend a few rounds on escapees.

Jonathan H said...

So, how did it go? How long did you have to wait before being let go?

Peripatetic Engineer said...

Or 12 people who are not smart enough to get out of jury duty.

I have had the privilege to serve on a Grand Jury. I found it very interesting and I probably took it too seriously. I went to our company legal team and they pointed me to the state laws where I learned that a Grand Jury has the ability to investigate almost anything they want. And they are required to verify that prisoners are getting decent food. The DA kept us on a short leash and we satisfied the second requirement by having our lunch at the prison.

After Katrina I was called to serve on a federal jury but nobody wants to have an engineer on the jury.