Wednesday, August 12, 2009

but I would not be convicted, by a jury, of my peers...

I spent the day at the Crowley Building being eliminated as a juror in a criminal case. I found it incredibly frustrating. Voir dire went on all afternoon. The purpose of voir dire is to enable the parties to select an impartial panel, but of the final 12 people who were chosen from our panel of 76 potential jurors, not one had uttered a single word during voir dire. One of them, a guy in his 50’s, did speak to me in the hall outside the courtroom while we we were waiting to hear who was picked. And what did this man who made the final cut he have to say? “Well, if this “victim” is a 13 year old girl, all I’ve got to say is, 13 year old girls LIE…” He was picked over the SMU professor who had asked for clarification between individual and corporate deterrents when sentencing was being discussed, and over the business man who said, in response to a question from the prosecutor, that yes, there is a difference between innocence and being found not guilty. During voir dire, the lawyers succeeded in eliminating many people who clearly could not participate fairly in this case; however, they also appeared to eliminate anyone who appeared to be a thinking, intelligent person. The experience did not leave me feeling confident about the state of the jury system.

cross posted at Talking to Myself

5 comments:

sunflowerkat321 said...

I've heard this from others...that a large part of the jury selection process involves eliminating people who think. Scary.

Kathy said...

I am not surprised by your observations (having been there before).

How about this? I attended a murder trial (details will not follow) and over the course of five days, 14 jurors sat and listened. Some drew squiggles in their notebooks, some dozed off and yet others quietly commented to each other during testimony. Not a word was said by the judge.

Off to deliberations they went and the next day when the jurors filed in the two alternates followed and had seats just off to the right of the jurors who actually deliberated.

Want to know what they were wearing? Tee shirts printed with 'Proud to be an alternate juror. Guilty as charged.'

That finished me ...

emmapeelDallas said...

Whoa. And the judge allowed all of that to go on? Outrageous. Yesterday I sat there, biting my tongue, when we were being polled about whether or not each of us could give the maximum sentence of 99 years (we'd already been polled about the minimum of 5 years), IF we ended up on the jury, IF the defendant was convicted, and IF we felt the crime deserved that sentence. I had to bite my tongue as person after person said "Well, I could do it in some other case, but not in THIS case..." and the prosecutor didn't challenge a single one of them. Finally, the judge said he was going to interrupt, and he asked the woman next to me (who had answered in that way), "what do you mean, in THIS case? What case? You have NO FACTS BEFORE YOU in this case, and that is NOT an appropriate answer to a theoretical question!" I was so glad that he had the good sense to point that out.

Lisa :-] said...

There is definitely something broken about our judicial system...along with many other parts of our government. I don't know what to say, except that I'm pretty sure I will never have to sit on a jury...

krissy knox said...

Very scary. And why would that many automatically think 13 year old girls lie? He was picked? He will be prejudiced to begin with --even before the trial starts. Very scary.

krissy knox :)
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