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How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 5:09 pm
by boblipton
I've indicated several times that I was on jury duty, and this is the case I was on.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/busi ... rdict.html

I'm going to take a couple of days to wash the stink of 100 Center Street off my soul. Please don't ask me about the details for a while. After this I need some time to deal with the issues of (un)reasonable doubt. My fellow jurors were assiduous, and I will not be talking about them in public.

Bob

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 5:47 pm
by Daniel Eagan
Wondered why you were watching so many obscure British movies from YouTube.

Coincidentally, today I interviewed Steve James about Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, a documentary about a protracted trial in which jurors had infuriatingly opposing views. I will be curious to learn your opinion of your fellow jurors.

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 3:54 am
by Spiny Norman
So you won't be watching 12 angry men anytime soon?

But afterwards, you are not forbidden to talk about it? You hear people talking about it so rarely.

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 6:30 pm
by Donald Binks
I always was of the opinion that talking about anything to do with Jury duty was sub-judice and that one could be held in contempt if one did? Besides which, the person in the dock could have friends on the outside who would be all too willing to fit one with a pair of cement shoes. :D

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 4:02 am
by boblipton
During the trial, I was limited to stating that I was on a jury, that it was a criminal case and it was expected to go from late January to early May. Now I can say whatever I like about it.

Bob

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 3:20 pm
by Donald Binks
boblipton wrote:During the trial, I was limited to stating that I was on a jury, that it was a criminal case and it was expected to go from late January to early May. Now I can say whatever I like about it.

Bob


It seems that in America, laws are far more "liberal" when it comes to court matters - why you even have proceedings live on television - unheard of in Oz! :D

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 3:22 pm
by boblipton
No Star Chamber for us!

Bob

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 5:17 pm
by Mike Gebert
Well, I'll satisfy a little curiosity for those who've only seen it in movies and TV.

I was on a medical malpractice jury about a decade ago. It lasted about 2 weeks, and generally speaking, I was impressed with the seriousness of my fellow jurors, from every walk of life and ethnic group in Chicago, in aiming to understand the case and evaluate it fairly. I will say that at the end, we got to 11-1 pretty quickly, and that was one of the more miserable days of my life, all the arguments long since overfamiliar and 12 of us trapped together forever. We went away for the weekend, and it seemed pretty clear, when we came back on Monday, that the mother and other relations of the holdout had worked on her to get it over with. Not quite how it's supposed to work, but I think the outcome was correct, it seemed pretty clear to me that she was holding the doctor to too high a standard of clairvoyance. (The doctor had called in epidemiology at least twice, as I recall, which was what you could expect of her— bumping it up to the experts, who didn't spot the problem until their third try.)

Afterwards I was talking to one of the defense attorneys about the experience and he offered that there's a big difference in how they pick people for civil and criminal trials. If it's civil, everyone wants intelligent jurors who can follow the often complex arguments and technical details. (In fact, I thought they often dumbed down arguments for us when they didn't need to-- the plaintiff's side try to make a big deal of how tiny the pills given were, but everyone thought that was silly, we knew big medical power can come in small doses.)

But if it's criminal and you're the defense side... he said your aim is to get at least one sort of unworldly older housewife onto the jury, who seems like she'll look at even the most hardened gangster and say, "Oh, poor boy, he never had a chance."

The other interesting thing was seeing how information was restricted to the jury; there were many things you'd naturally ask that we could not be told. We suspected early on, based on how the case was made, that the hospital had already settled with the family (the hospital had clearly bungled a few things). That was confirmed at the end. It was also interesting that while the doctors had to testify carefully and accurately, those who had been interns and residents at the time basically adopted a Nuremberg defense-- I remember nothing that's not in my deposition, I have no opinion, refer to my deposition, I was just following the doctor's orders.

Anyway, fascinating experience that I'll be happy not to repeat...

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 11:29 pm
by greta de groat
I spent 19 days over 6 weeks in early 2016 on a criminal trial. I'd always heard that they wanted dumb jurers but we had 5 engineers, a teacher, 2 Stanford employees and a UC Berkeley employee. Sadly, we still had a hung jury after 4 days of deliberations. Depressing, really, deciding the fates of people who seem to have pretty much decided their own fates already.

greta

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 4:25 am
by Spiny Norman
Mike Gebert wrote:But if it's criminal and you're the defense side... he said your aim is to get at least one sort of unworldly older housewife onto the jury, who seems like she'll look at even the most hardened gangster and say, "Oh, poor boy, he never had a chance."
In other words the kind of trial that we see on TV.

It's probably not as bad or as warped as on television, but I'm still glad to live under a different system, TBH.

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 4:57 am
by boblipton
This is the third time I have been on a jury and I have always been impressed and pleased by my fellow jurors. Not necessarily their education -- one of them had to be convinced there weren't 54 states in the union. "What about Washington D.C.? Puerto Rico? Mexico? Canada?" -- but their dedication to understanding what had happened and what it all meant. Every one of them was careful to listen in the court and in the jury room, both to convince those who disagreed and to be willing to be convinced. One of our jurors moved to North Carolina during the trial. That is, her husband and 7-year-old daughter did, but she stayed and visited during the weekend -- including the last weekend, when her flight on Spirit Airlines was cancelled, she drove down for a eleven hours, then drove back to do her duty by her fellow jurors, despite her daughter offering her her tooth-fairy money to stay.

I don't know how Lee J. Cobb got past voir dire.

Bob

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 2:23 pm
by Daniel Eagan
Were you allowed to take notes? My last trial we were, but we had to surrender them to the court officer every day.

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 2:51 pm
by boblipton
Daniel Eagan wrote:Were you allowed to take notes? My last trial we were, but we had to surrender them to the court officer every day.


Same here. We were all permitted to take notes -- and a lawyer friend of mine tells me that some judges forbid anyone from taking notes, because it might give them too much influence over the jurors who didn't. We all took notes, and used them as reference for evidence to call for review when deliberating.

Bob

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 5:17 pm
by Mike Gebert
Same here. Took notes, had to give them up at the end. Which I respect— in a society where you can nitpick anything, some secrets should be kept.

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 6:27 pm
by wich2
I've been called many times (sitting in the selection room for days, I've done some solid writing!), and served once.

It was a Criminal trial. Though a small one, we did deadlock, and had to be sequestered (Donald, maintaining total silence about the case) over night.

To all the folks who make a joke of the process, and try to avoid service, I can only repeat the old truism:

If YOU would want a fair jury of your peers to be willing to serve to try YOU, you should be willing to do the same for someone else.

-Craig

P.S. - Spiny, by complete coincidence the last play I did before college, and the first professional one after it, was TWELVE ANGRY MEN. (And both times, as #8!)

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 7:30 pm
by Rick Lanham
I served on about 6 or 7 small trials in California. The most serious ones were for heroin smuggling and meth selling. Similar to the above, we could have notes, but had to leave them overnight with the bailiff. We could say whatever we wanted later, but I didn't discuss the results with the people involved, only friends.

In Florida, I've been called in about three times. I haven't been put on a jury here yet.

Rick

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 2:56 am
by Donald Binks
I have been called for service three times. The first time I was in the room full of prospective jurors - most of whom were completely ignorant of what was required of them. I was finally called into a court and passed by the dock, but was challenged by the prisoner at the bar. The second time I was called, I was actually empaneled and swore my oath. It was a case of arson and I heard the opening cases for both the Crown and the defence, however one juror went to the judge shortly after and told him that she could not find the defendant guilty. We were thus all discharged. It was a mistrial. The last time I was called up to attend a courtroom about 200 km from where I live. I was able to excuse myself because of age and and distance.

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 6:27 am
by tthacker
Several years ago I served on a jury in a sexual abuse case. Imagine trying to go through 2 weeks of that without speaking to anyone about it. The night before deliberations, none of us were able to sleep. When we came back to the jury room after the verdict was given, we all started to cry. Not a pleasant experience, but glad to have served.

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 8:15 am
by missdupont
I've been on three criminal trials: one finding a police officer guilty of petty theft, one we found out later would have been a third strike case, and one that was a hung jury on a prostitution sting. I agree with Tom's comment about serving and if you want good jurors for your own trial, serve. It was definitely a learning experience and one where you feel glad of doing your civic duty.

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 10:24 am
by greta de groat
tthacker wrote:Several years ago I served on a jury in a sexual abuse case. Imagine trying to go through 2 weeks of that without speaking to anyone about it. The night before deliberations, none of us were able to sleep. When we came back to the jury room after the verdict was given, we all started to cry. Not a pleasant experience, but glad to have served.


Indeed. Mine was rape and kindnapping with the intent of trafficking, though the case was problematic enough that we ended up calling it The Three Stooges vs the World's Dumbest Prostitute. Though we did get a light moment with a police detective's puzzlement at being asked about "prostitution best practices", the whole thing was very disturbing, especially on realizing what a very high bar "beyond a reasonable doubt" is for sex crime convictions.

greta

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:37 am
by boblipton
Same as it is for any felony, Greta. I understand that's not very comforting; it certainly wasn't in my case.

So, what are prostitution best practices?

Bob

Re: How I spent the last 14 weeks

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 12:23 pm
by greta de groat
boblipton wrote:Same as it is for any felony, Greta. I understand that's not very comforting; it certainly wasn't in my case.

So, what are prostitution best practices?

Bob


The detective had been telling us about typical precautions to stay safe and actually get paid, but was a little thrown off stride by the attorney's terminology.

Greta