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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Monday Mission 0210

Dutifully doing the Promo Guy Monday Mission.

1. In the states, every citizen is expected to perform their civic duty and serve on a jury at some point. This week, I am on jury duty. Have you ever had to serve on a jury?

I've been called to jury duty once. I was the second person in the first pool. The judge, who I knew, gave us a brief overview of the case. The overview included introducing the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the defendant, and naming the key witnesses. It was a simple criminal damage to property case.

If I recall correctly, the defendant allegedly broke into her former boyfriend's apartment and unsuccessfully tried to burn the place down with the stove. She did, however, cause considerable damage.

As the judge is telling us all of this, I'm ticking off the reasons in my head why I should not serve on the jury.

The defendant was not someone I knew by sight, but I knew her name. She was a year behind me in high school. I think one of my brother's friends may have dated her in high school. I can't remember what, but I seem to have some recollection of trouble at the end of that relationship. That didn't seem like a good enough reason not to serve, though.

One of the primary witnesses was someone with whom I was well acquainted with. I can't recall if he was a witness for the state or the defense. Some time before, he had been a client of my then boss. We handled a couple minor drug charges and a divorce for him. We got him off on the drug charges. But, by the time the divorce was ready to be concluded, he was unable to pay the balance of his attorney's fees to the tune of $1,200.00. We had a lot of trouble trying to get him to pay. That is, he made promises to pay which he did not keep. Therefore, my boss withdrew from the divorce before the case was complete. It occurred to me that one or both of the attorneys might consider me to be a biased juror based on my unfavorable dealings with the witness. The problem, in my mind at the time, was how I could tell the judge my tale without spoiling the rest of the jury pool. I resolved to myself that when the time was appropriate, I would ask if I could approach the bench and let the chips fall from there.

The judge began the voir dire by asking the first person in the pool if there was any reason she could think of why she should not serve on the jury. She was sitting to my right and I recall looking at her and thinking she and I were very similar. We both had blonde shoulder length hair. We were both about the same size. We were both about the same age. And, we both were wearing nearly the same outfits. The similarities didn't stop there. She replied that, yes, there was a reason she believed she shouldn't serve. The judge wanted to know what it was. She explained that her brother was a latent fingerprint examiner for the state of California. The further explained that he had told her stories about some of his cases that had slanted her judgment against all criminal defendants everywhere. The judge dismissed her. She left the jury box and courtroom.

There was some buzzing in the courtroom and my mind began to wander. I was quickly shaken from my mental wanderings when the judge exclaimed, "Miss Carnes!" Yes, judge, I stammered, trying to refocus my attention. He wanted to know, "other than the fact that you work for [name omitted of my then boss], is there any reason you believe you should not serve on this jury?" Yes there is, judge. "What?" Well, um, my, uh, brother is a latent fingerprint examiner for the state of Illinois. By this time, the entire courtroom had their attention on me, their mouths agape. Almost shouting, he said, "you have got to be kidding me!" I replied, no, I'm not kidding, but I have more if you want to hear it. "That'll be fine. You're excused."

As I left the courtroom, I couldn't help but wonder if the next prospective juror also had a brother who was a latent fingerprint examiner somewhere.

Outside the courtroom, there sitting on one of the pews lining the hall, was the key witness who owed my boss $1,200.00. I successfully refrained from trying to collect it right there on the spot. He gave me a smirk.

2. If you were to ever serve on a jury, would you be able to give someone the death penalty? I'd like to think, even though I'm not in favor of the death penalty, that I could put my beliefs aside long enough to enforce the law. But, probably not.

3. One thing that concerns me about jury duty is what my life would be like if I had to convict someone. I'd always be worried about some sort of retaliation from the convict, or their family. Has fear of negative consequences ever kept you from reporting a crime or voicing your opinion? Not yet.

4. When it comes to convictions, I've never even been convicted of speeding (accued yes, but heh, never convicted). Have you ever been accused of or convicted for breaking any laws? What's the real story there? No accusations. No convictions. So far.

5. It looks like I will have a lot of time on my hands this week in the jury pool. I may get called, I may not. If not, I go back tomorrow. Rinse, wash, repeat. How would you pass the time if you had to sit and wait around from 8am-5pm for 5 days? Read a book.

6. One thing I do like about this "civic duty" is that it will be at the downtown courthouse. I LOVE downtown. There is just so much life there. What part of your town is your favorite to visit? Why? What makes it so special? I love downtown, too. I love to just hang out downtown and watch the people. Something about being downtown is so vibrant and alive.

7. I'm not that outgoing around strangers, so I doubt I will be meeting many new people this week. Do you have any problems striking up a conversation with someone you don't know? Have chance encounters with strangers ever led to interesting new relationships or opportunities? Depending on the time and place, I have no problem striking up a conversation with a stranger. I met my best friend in an elevator over 20 years ago because I started talking to her about nothing in particular.

BONUS: So if I tell you that you're really something baby, will you stay or will you go away? Stay, of course. Duh!

Today's Comment Question: What toppings do you like on your pizza? I'm a pizza traditionalist. Gimme spicy hot Italian sausage any day.

Posted by Marie at February 11, 2003 12:27 AM


I have never served duty jury I mean jury duty.. I have never even been asked. Poor me.

Posted by: tudy at February 11, 2003 3:49 AM