Jurty Duty: Day 3

September 21, 2006 (Thursday) – Jury Selection Day 3

This is the third entry in a series of entries on my role in the jury in a double murder case in the county of Contra Costa, California. You can see a more detailed view of the case including links to these posts and other items at this page.

I’ve taken yet another day off of work and still don’t know one way or the other whether or not I’m going to have to serve on this jury. It’s really frustrating. I’ve started rearranging my schedule with the anticipation that I might have to serve although at this moment I don’t think I’ll end up on the jury. Most of the folks that are going to have to continue working in the evenings like myself are getting excused for cause.

Here’s the other frustrating part about all of this: They haven’t told us why they are doing the things they do. They haven’t said how many alternates they’re going to pick or how many preemptory challenges each lawyer gets. The judge is more than happy to tell us stories, especially when you get a lawyer, a Mr. Rubenstein I believe, trying to drop names of superior court judges to get out of serving. By the way, if that lawyer ever reads this, you have a horrible choice in your shirts and ties color wise. I just wanted to let you know that. Okay, back to where I was talking about the selection process. Anyways, it’s difficult to understand what’s going on because they really haven’t given us any details other than the only people that matter are one through 25. They also haven’t said why they have 25 people being interviewed when they only seat a jury with 12 people plus alternates. Based on the number of chairs in the box they seat 12 and then have 4 alternates but that’s just a guess at this stage on my part.

8:30 am – Everyone is back today. We get started pretty quickly. They excuse a small batch of people that they must have decided on after the session ended on Wednesday. It’s still going slow with the questions and excusals. Most of the people I’m sitting with are getting frustrated by just how much the lawyers talk (specifically the defense lawyer) in trying to get their point across. The defense attorney seems sincere in his communication but it does get a little repetitive at times. Maybe people just don’t trust lawyers in general so they just assume to be skeptical. Isn’t it great living in a cynical world?

They’re pushing through with interviews. More questions to folks. Some of the questions seem to go on forever. I can completely figure out why they are targeting some people and not others. For a few it seems pretty apparent why they’re drilling them with questions, though. I’ve sat with the same people each of the last few days and I found out today that the woman next to me has a PhD in organizational psychology. I’m not really sure what that means compared to normal psychology but we’ve been spending out time comparing notes on what each question from the attornies is meant to tell them about the prospective juror. One of the other guys in our group, if you will, is a car salesman (he actually seems like a pretty nice guy) and to help aid him in his quest to get out of jury duty wore a bright sky blue shirt with the words “It ain’t easy being easy” on the front. Classy. But if you’re reading this, can I still get a deal on that car?

4:15

They’re only removing a few jurors at a time now. Most people that are up there are staying up there and when they remove someone from the top 16 they are sliding them over from the 17-25 slots rather than replenishing from the remaining jury pool (which is still huge). I think they’re only about about number 54 or 55 of us. They originally pulled close to 140 I believe so there is still a huge pool left.

The judge decided to send us home for the weekend. He says they’re not going to finish swearing in the jury today so we’re going to start again on Monday morning. He doesn’t hold court on Fridays. There is a definite groan from most of us because it means yet another day of jury selection and we still don’t have any idea what is still left. We don’t know if they have started using their preemptories or not or if everyone is just being excused for cause up to this point. My suspicion is that all the excusals are for cause up to now.

Back to work tomorrow…

Monday – The fourth day (and hopefully last) of jury selection

3 thoughts on “Jurty Duty: Day 3

  1. So it seems lawyers are allowed to serve on a jury in the US then?
    They aren’t in Australia. If you have specialist legal knowledge, then you are not allowed to sit on a jury. My understanding is that they are concerned that lawyers understand the inner workings of the legal system (and courtrooms) too well, and get into too much 2nd guessing etc. of what’s happening.
    Like “they didn’t call the defendant up to give evidence. He must have something to hide” (only more details – I’m not a lawyer)

  2. Yep, lawyers are allowed to serve on a jury here. And jury duty takes precedence over other court appearances a lawyer might have unless it is a family court hearing that has to do with a child’s welfare.

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