Eyes of a Friend

Life with companion animals

Jury selection is over, and I’m not on it

on July 6, 2009

I received a jury summons in the mail last month. I hate going all the way to downtown Phoenix to do my duty, even when they let me go before the end of the first day, so I was relieved when I saw that this summons was for a nearby court. We didn’t have to report until 10am on Monday, which was also nice.

Monday morning: I went a bit early just so I could find a place to park; there was plenty of parking, and it didn’t take too long to get through security. There were still seats available in the assembly room, but I soon noticed that the closer to 10am it got, the bigger the crowd coming thru the doorway. The staff started assisting arrivals to find an empty seat, but it became obvious that many more people were called than there were chairs. The lady in charge started explaining the process, and people were standing out in the hallway trying to hear the instructions. We had to stand in lines to get a form to fill out; when everyone got their form filled out, they then asked us to answer “Yes” or “No” when our name was called for a trial that was scheduled to run thru the end of July. After a bunch of people said “No”, those of us who said “Yes” found out that all the “No’s” got to go home. Boy, was I jealous! They told us we would have to return Wednesday to begin the jury selection process.

Wednesday: we met the court bailiff, Austin, who would coordinate our entry into the courtroom. We were each assigned a number, and held that number up if needed in response to any of the questions that were asked by the judge. There were over 70 potential jurors, and they asked a lot of questions to help them filter out which of us would be desirable for a place on the jury — according to the opinion of the judge, the deputy county attorney or the defense attorney. Questions ranged from whether we had ever been a witness in a trial (I had) to whether we had been a defendant (I had not) or whether we had been a victim of any crime (I had – burglary and theft) . These questions were read out to the group as a whole, and those who had a response to a question held up their number. The judge then asked each person who had held up their number to give their information and then asked if their experience (being a witness, knowing a participant, or being a participant in a previous trial, etc.) would affect their ability to be fair and impartial in this trial. At first, most people said they could be fair and impartial, but as questions continued, a number of people who had been victims, or related to victims started saying that they might have a problem being impartial. They let us go about 4:30pm and told us to come back the next afternoon for further questioning.

Thursday: The final questions were biographical – where we worked, whether we were married and had kids, and whether we had served on a jury before. Some folks were “unemployed, single, no kids and no previous jury service”, but most had more to say. Some folks had been excused based on their answers to the previous day’s questions, but it still took a while to get everyone’s info. We were excused except for a small group that needed to stay – including me. We went in one by one, and were asked for more details — they asked me more about my work at the Department of Corrections and my time as a witness in a co-worker’s trial. Then we were told to return at 4pm. They excused a few more before we went into the courtroom again, and then they started reading off the numbers of those who were selected to be on the jury — I was hoping to not have to serve because it was going to be a long trial, but I was competitive enough that I didn’t like not being chosen. They did not call my number, and I don’t have to report for duty next Monday. The trial involves a young man accused of killing another man in the course of a drug deal — I am very glad that I didn’t win a place on the jury.

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4 responses to “Jury selection is over, and I’m not on it

  1. Lea Ann says:

    Wow, what an ordeal just for the selection process. Yes, I too am pleased for you that this is one time you were NOT chosen to be on the team.

    • cjswartz says:

      Today I would have had to appear for the first day of the trial — am very happy again that I’m not on that jury. The judge said it would not be a capital case (death penalty), but I still would prefer not being on a murder trial.

      • Lea Ann says:

        Oh, I”d not like to be on that jury either. And since I had a MIL whose home was broken into when she was 89 and she was raped and murdered, I doubt that I’d be selected for a murder trial. But, thank goodness for those who do serve and help the wheels of justice stay on track.

  2. cjswartz says:

    89 !! I’ve read of such atrocities, but never personally known anyone involved. There should be a special Hell for people who can hurt someone that old…

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