Social Question

Bellatrix's avatar

Have you ever sat on a jury and what was your experience like?

Asked by Bellatrix (21128 points ) August 25th, 2011

I have never been chosen for jury service but I have always thought I would find it fascinating, even if I got a boring trial.

Have you sat on a jury and what was your experience like? If you can say (not sure if there are times when you are prevented from discussing your experience) what sort of trial was it? Was it difficult to reach a verdict?

Tell us about the process and your feelings about it.

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17 Answers

bkcunningham's avatar

I’ll let you know later. I have to report for jury duty Monday. (I will telephone the court tomorrow afternoon to see if the case has been settled out of court before I go Monday.) If I’m selected, it will be my first time as a juror. My profession has always prevented me from serving as a juror until now.

WestRiverrat's avatar

No, I wanted to and was called a couple times, but the first time the defence attorney did not like my NRA lapel pin.

The second time I knew one of the parties involved and was dismissed by the judge because he owed me money.

Hibernate's avatar

Ask Allie. It seems she get picked for it a lot. I was called but I never bothered going there. Waste of time.

bkcunningham's avatar

If the case isn’t settled out of court and I don’t show up Monday, @Hibernate, I wll be fined $200.

Hibernate's avatar

Well it’s not mandatory for us here :) Have fun in court.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’ve only sat on civil cases which is a mixed blessing. The bad news is, it’s pretty boring, usually one attorney is so bad that you wince and the other is just mean and you sit there for three days until someone settles and everyone goes home mad. The good news is that you don’t have to look at icky crime scene photos or hear about truly awful stuff.

Jeruba's avatar

I have, twice. Both times I wound up as foreman.

The criminal case was somewhat interesting, if stupid. It involved possession of a concealed weapon by a parolee. We jurors did a lot of struggling and soul-searching over the confusing testimony of witnesses and finally decided that his girlfriend was just plain lying under oath. Eventually we found the guy guilty, and afterward his attorney as good as admitted it to a couple of us while telling us that a second trial was coming up—in which the defendant was accused of using the weapon that he said he hadn’t had in our trial. “Why didn’t you believe the girlfriend?” he wanted to know, and I said, “Sorry, but I’m not going to help you figure out how to make her testimony more convincing.”

The DUI case was so unnerving that it made me say with considerable feeling: “I hope that neither my fate nor that of anyone close to me winds up in the hands of a jury.” Half of the jurors were of the same ethnicity as the defendant, and they decided on that grounds that he was innocent, because to side against him meant being disloyal to their heritage. That’s as good as saying that no one of their ethnicity is capable of committing an offense; all people of their background are automatically innocent of all crimes. I felt helpless and outraged because the case for the prosecution seemed sound and persuasive to me—and the defense was so idiotic as to be insulting. But nothing would budge those jurors, who had made up their minds that he was being persecuted by racists. The jury ended up hung, and I went out of the courthouse about as disgusted as I have ever been in my life.

woodcutter's avatar

It’s interesting to me. Watching lawyers duke it out. I like a good reason to get out of work and it won’t get much better than this, except if it’s high profile and there is sequestering going on, then it would crank on my nerves.

Bellatrix's avatar

That’s very disturbing @Jeruba. I was going to say, I wonder what happens in the reverse situation. When a person is judged based on their race in a negative way but then I realised this happens all the time. Not that this makes the situation you describe okay of course. Very interesting @Jeruba. Thank you @Jeruba

flo's avatar

No, but I have wondered what would happen if one of us just couldn’t get convinced by the other 11.

filmfann's avatar

I was on a jury for a prostitution case. We found her guilty after she blatently lied to us.
First, she said she didn’t know what the word Fuck meant.
Then, she said a John was a term used by prositutes for a paying customer.
WTF?

Jeruba's avatar

For an interesting study of that situation, @flo, see the film Twelve Angry Men.

If after due deliberation there’s no consensus, no verdict and no hope of one, what you have is a hung jury, and the case has to be tried all over again with a new jury.

.
@filmfann, are you saying that you don’t think “John” is a prostitute’s term for a paying customer? See sense 3.

filmfann's avatar

@Jeruba, no, I am saying she knew that, but didn’t know what Fuck meant. I’m not buying any.

flo's avatar

@Jeruba I have seen that movie. I was thinking it takes a strong person to stick to their belief, and not get swayed just to please the rest of them, or to be done with it and go to their normal life.

Bellatrix's avatar

Twelve Angry Men is an excellent film. I went to see the play a few years ago, also excellent.

Jeruba's avatar

@filmfann, I hope that wasn’t the basis of your conviction. We have a lot of slang expressions for the act of intercourse: screw, shag, drill, poke, etc. All those words have another, literal meaning, and they have ended up as slang for “fuck” by analogy or metaphorical extension or other natural linguistic process that regularly churns out new expressions. For all this ignorant young woman knew, “fuck” might have just been another one of those words, and she was saying that she didn’t know what it really meant because she knew it only in this context. But of course, this is what it really means and has meant for some 500 years.

This is not to say that she wasn’t guilty as charged.

filmfann's avatar

@Jeruba This was not the basis of the conviction. We were faced with either the Cop was lying, or she was.
After the trial, we found out the defense attourney had paid off a clerk to hide some of the paperwork showing past convictions, which we were not told about because they didn’t have the records. We felt like we made the right decision.

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