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Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-04-2007, 09:01 PM   #1
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Anybody served on a jury?

I served on a jury this week in a 4th offense DWI trial. The trial took most of the week. I was the jury foreman. Today, we deliberated 3 1/2 hrs & rendered a verdict of guilty. There was a good deal of debate among the jury members, & I had to write several notes back to the judge so we could review the arrest video a few more times. Louisiana penalty for 4th offense is 10-30 yrs, + $5000 fine, + confiscation of vehicle & sale, with proceeds going to the state, + forfieture of license for 2 yrs (presumably after you get out of jail??). Although I know I did what I was supposed to do, I can't help but feel remorse for this guy's family. He wasn't falling down drunk, but he refused the breathalyzer (allowable in LA unless an accident) & all we had to go on was videotape & the 2 trooper's testimonies. His 3rd DWI occurred less than 4 months prior to the 4th one, and he apparently is living in la-la land. There was no accident, and we could have probably convinced ourselves that "maybe" he wasn't really all that drunk, but I don't think I could have lived with myself if we had let him off & then he went out & killed sombody. I really do feel bad for him & his family. Anybody got any similar experiences?
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-04-2007, 09:11 PM   #2
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?



Two things...
I pulled jury duty for next week. I'm planning to get out of it via my acute hearing loss.

Nobody wants me on their jury, nobody.



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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-04-2007, 09:15 PM   #3
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

I served on a domestic violence jury. We found the person guilty. It wasn't easy but obviously we all thought the evidence was there.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-04-2007, 09:19 PM   #4
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

I served for a week on a trial for a young man who was caught dealing drugs. Virginia has strict penalties for that, and going into the trial I thought this would be an easy one. The proof presented was solid, and we had little doubt the guy was guilty. But the penaly was many years in prison, don't recall how many but it was a very heavy penalty. Although going into the trial I thought, this is an easy one, lock him up and throw away the key, when I saw him and his family I have to say it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. Sure, we found him guilty, and sure, he deserved his penalty. But it's different when you are the one who makes the call to send him away, and when you realize this is a person with a family who has made wrong choices but still tears a family apart. Yeah, I was one of the ones who sent him away, but it stayed in my mind for a long time. It's hard but it's the right thing, the way our system works.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-04-2007, 09:37 PM   #5
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

Let me help ya out.

If you get more than one DUI, you've got a serious problem. You get four, you need to be put somewhere where access to an automobile isnt much of an option.

Never served on a jury. They dont seem to want me.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-04-2007, 10:11 PM   #6
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

One of my jury trials was a felony DWI.... and only a felony because he had a prior DWI. And before we were on the jury, they talked about the possible penalties... they said if they could prove he had a prior felony, then the sentence was 20 yrs to life... Now, the guy was not driving erractically, nor did he hit anybody etc... was just pulled over... but blew a 2.2... they said he had been drinking for over 25 years and that this was 'normal' for someone that long... I don't know about that....

But, we found him guilty and then found out he was a career criminal... they were using this to put him away for a certain number of years... he was surprised that he got 45 years for a 'simple' DWI... but will only serve 15 before he gets out...

Everybody on the jury was OK with the decision in the end... some had wanted the minimum, so wanted life or 99 years... I think we did a good job..
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-04-2007, 11:10 PM   #7
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

Been in the jury selection room four times. The one in downtown Phoenix is pretty cushy, they show movies plus have computer docks as well as a reading room which was very quiet. Read "The Fellowship of the Rings" and started in on the Two Towers until they sent me home.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-04-2007, 11:29 PM   #8
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

Just received my Jury Summons for the last week in May. My county has a daily 'call in' for appearance.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 03:32 AM   #9
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

I was an alternate juror on a murder trial. I learned a lot about our judicial system during that case. The trial and deliberations took six weeks. The defendant was found guilty.

I was also a juror for an attempted jail escape case. One defendant found guilty and the other found innocent.

I didn't feel any particular sympathy for the defendants, but I sure had a lot of sympathy for the family members who were involved.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 04:31 AM   #10
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

I am usually kicked off juries during questioning, but I have served on 2.

One was a DUI for a guy who had refused to take a blood alcohol test,
and had obviously mouthed off to the cop. The judge said that not taking
the test was not an indication of guilt, but it was to every juror.
Deliberation was very short.

The other was a civil case for a poor guy who had lost his leg after an
accident because he insisted on a 90 minute ride to the nearest VA hospital
for free treatment instead of a 5 minute ride to the local hospital. The vote
was 8-4 for hours (9-3 was needed), with us 4 university students on the
hospitals' side and 8 old people (over 30) for the plaintiff. One of the
students finally caved to go home, and he got about $300,000.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 04:53 AM   #11
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

Just served last week...get called every few years but have never actually been seated on a jury; usually cases all get settled at the last minute (at least in my neck of the woods).

About feeling bad for the 4th offense DUI sentence - don't. Would you have felt bad sentencing him if he was on trial for killing someone while driving drunk? By putting him in jail now you in all likelihood saved someones life - think of it that way.

As was already said, one offense could be a mistake, but 4? thats a chronic alcoholic just waiting to kill someone...you did society a favor.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 06:09 AM   #12
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

Thanks.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 07:44 AM   #13
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

My most disgusting was a sexual abuse of a 6 year old girl- guilty.

My rocket scientist criminal was the armed robber who stared into the security camera for a good 5 seconds while holding a gun on a convenience store clerk- guilty.

My always have a jury trial learning experience was a drug bust with the storming of the house, accused was standing in the living room holding a grocery bag of cocaine and 5 other bags were found hidden. He claimed he did not know what was in the grocery bag. 11-1 mistrial. One juror said when she bought groceries she could not see in her grocery bag (paper) either.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 08:26 AM   #14
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

I served as an alternate on one jury about an young woman who embezzled money from her employer. She had been previously convicted of the same offense and cleverly forged documents to allow her release from prison based on terminal health conditions. At least two other employers had fired her for embezzlement, but never prosecuted her. She showed up to trial with her young children and a very prominent limp, sometimes enhanced with a huge leg brace. Given the evidence, no one could imagine that she was anything but guilty. The defense attorney did an incredible job in making the prosecution look inept and in generating doubt in the juror's minds. It was one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. Jury deliberation only lasted two hours, and she was convicted, but frankly, I could have seen it go the other way. I was glad I was only an alternate. It is a big responsibility to sit in judgment of others.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 09:14 AM   #15
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

I never have (was living out of state the one time I got a summons). DH did about 6 months ago--it was a civil case involving a car accident. defendant failed to yield, hit plaintiff, plaintiff argued this had made an existing back problem much worse. One of the lawyers called him after the case to find out why they had ruled as they did (IIRC they gave the plaintiff about 75% of what she had asked for)--after hearing his logic said he should think about Law school--DH pointed out he makes almost as much as a software developer without having to deal with lawyers daily. Lawyer laughed and told him he might have made the better career choice.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 10:14 AM   #16
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

I have never served on a jury. I think that you made the right decision. Since he had been arrested three times previously, he knew the outcome of taking a breathalyzer test. He definitely has a problem and you probably have saved someone's life. I am sure that it is hard on his family, but it would be harder on his family if he killed someone first and then went to prison.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 01:37 PM   #17
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

My husband is an attorney, so I usually get booted immediately, but I did get to sit on one DUI case the last time I was summoned. We all felt sure that the defendant was probably guilty, but we all also agreed that the prosecution did not prove his case. We had no choice but to find the guy not guilty.

I was dismissed from two more trials as soon as the plaintiff attornies saw me. My husband said they probably assumed that I knew the law regarding their cases and that it wasn't in their favor! (They were mistaken, by the way. I know very littleabout the law.)

I am glad that I had the opportunity to serve at least once. It gave me some insight into why it sometimes seems that a jury has disregarded the facts when they render their verdict. Things are not as black and white as they often seem.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 02:15 PM   #18
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

I usually get a jury-duty notice the week before a planned vacation.

Back in the early days of "Not in My Navy" my #1-ranked petty officer in my new division (I'd been there for two weeks) failed urinalysis and went to Captain's Mast. The chain of urine custody was sound and the quality of the urinalysis was considered satisfactory. His story was that the THC was in the brother-in-law's special BBQ sauce at the family reunion. The CO awarded 30 days of restriction and a bunch of collateral damage, not the least of which would be his ejection from the submarine force.

Seemed pretty harsh to me (not that I was in a position to object) and at that point in my career I was too naive to appreciate the "damned with faint praise" statements being uttered by the chiefs in his chain of command. As his division officer I was his escort to the restriction barracks, which duty I executed in the front seat of his pickup truck next to his spouse-- a young southern belle who was bawling her eyes out. They never mentioned that part of the process at legal officer's school.

The division didn't have enough time to get a replacement sailor before we got underway so a couple watchstanders were port & stbd. I was telling one of them that we'd work hard to get him back in three-section when he said "Well, I'd rather be port & stbd any day than four-section with that dirtbag." It turned out that our #1-ranked sailor was an expert in deception who had completely pulled the wool over the eyes of the chain of command, showing up to morning muster a half-dozen times suspiciously smelling of non-tobacco substances.

By the end of that patrol I was a lot less naive. I've never actually had to serve on a jury but I doubt the defense lawyers would ever let a retired veteran get that far.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 08:26 PM   #19
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

Actually, our alternate juror was a retired Air Force E-9. There were also 2 jurors who had prior DWI convictions. In Louisiana, the first 2 DWI's are not felonies, so they can still serve as jurors unless they are rejected by the prosecutor or defense lawyer. The defense ensured it was an all male jury, I guess figuring men more likely to be sympathetic to a guy having a few beers & hitting the road. I suspect they also assumed that jurors with prior DWI's might be more sympathetic as well. I think they made a huge mistake when they went way overboard trying to portray the state troopers as a couple of incompetent Barney Fifes who most likley profiled the guy and probably fabricated or at least exaggerated the evidence. I think that tactic insulted me as much as it probably insulted the troopers.
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?
Old 05-05-2007, 10:55 PM   #20
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Re: Anybody served on a jury?

A friend of mine was hit broadside by a drunk driver 20 years ago. Punched her thigh bone through her hip bone. The hip replacement lasted this long but it's starting to go. I delivered a wheelchair to her a few weeks back and she'll be in it full-time before she's 55.

My brother was hit head-on by a drunk driver about 15 years back. Came all the way across the median strip. Broke my brother's lower leg in 5 places -- he's got a metal rod in there and can't walk more than 6-8 blocks without limping. After a half-day, his ankle has swelled to twice it's size. He's 42 years old.

I myself was hit by a drunk 30 years ago. Again, he came through the bushes on the median strip, then destroyed the right side of my little Toyota Corona. If I hadn't cranked the wheel in time, I'd have been hit head-on and killed. He didn't bother to stop until the cops pulled him over about 20 miles down the road.

My brother and my friend got life sentences. None of these drivers served a day of jail time, and two of them had serious priors.

You did the right thing.
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