Thursday, February 07, 2008

Jury Duty - Day 3

Day 3 is now in the books, and again I showed up late. Again I was mildly rebuked. Again I didn't care. Again I sat around for over an hour after showing up late. This time instead of reading though, I cracked open the laptop and surfed the internet. Again I was dismissed.

If I have been unclear on this point so far, let me just restate just how boring jury duty is. Maybe it's interesting if you are selected for a jury, but I've never made it that far so I don't know. The process leading up to it, however, is mind numbing.

Today was another DUI. Still not Warren Moon. The prosecuting attorney today was the same as yesterday. I got to answer roughly the same questions again. The defense attorney this time reminded me of the public defender from My Cousin Vinny. There were long pauses while he tried to think of what questions to ask, or possible how to phrase them. He stammered a bit and seemed very nervous. His hands were trembling. His poor client is screwed. This story may be running tomorrow with the names changed...

I'm more than a little surprised at how difficult it is for some people to follow directions. The prosecuting attorney said that there was no breathalyzer administered and asked if anyone would be unable to convict without knowing the blood alcohol level. Seems like a simple enough question to me. There were a couple of questions, however, before the judge laid the smackdown and said it was a yes or no question. One stupid, or perhaps simply argumentative old geezer wouldn't accept that though. It went kind of like this:

Geezer: Why didn't he take a breathalyzer?
Judge: We are not going to get into that right now. The question now is whether or not you absolutely need to know his blood alcohol level in order to reach a verdict.
Geezer: Did he take a field sobriety test?
Judge: Again, we are not going to get into that right now.
Geezer: I thought that you could refuse to ....
Judge (now getting visibly agitated): I'm going to have to stop you right there. As I've said, we aren't going to get into that right now. The only question you have to answer is if you are able to reach a verdict without knowing the blood alcohol level.

I don't know if this is common in jury selection or not, but I was ready to reach over and "dismiss" that juror myself.

The other thing that irritated me was that the defense attorney kept asking people the same question over and over, only slightly rephrased. I had to answer three versions of the same question:

Defender: Do you understand that my client is innocent until proven guilty?
Me: Yes, I understand completely (having heard him go through this with a couple people prior to me, I hoped that elaborating on a simple yes might derail the further questioning, but no)
Defender: Do you just intellectually understand that, or are you able to set aside any preconceptions you might have and judge my client without bias?
Me: Yes I understand intellectually, and yes I will be unbiased.
Defender: Do you understand that just being charged doesn't mean my client is guilty?
Me: Yes.

At this point I think he began to sense my irritation and moved on. I don't know if he thought if he asked me enough times I'd eventually slip up or not, but I was just a question or 2 away from just saying yes, I get it, move on to the next question.

One more day of this and I'm free.
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