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Old 07-24-2013, 10:09 AM   #41
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If you liked the comedy "Becker", one of the funniest episodes revolved around jury duty:

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Old 07-24-2013, 12:15 PM   #42
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There is a lot of sitting around twiddling your thumbs, but in most cases that's not the fault of the court system.

As it was explained to me, a large number of cases are settled, one way or another, shortly before the trial is set to begin. Each side is playing chicken with the other, knowing full well that one side definitely doesn't want a jury trial. Finally, at the last minute, that side blinks, settles out of court, and the jury never has to appear. They were just being held in reserve, to call one side's bluff.
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:40 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
There is a lot of sitting around twiddling your thumbs, but in most cases that's not the fault of the court system.

As it was explained to me, a large number of cases are settled, one way or another, shortly before the trial is set to begin. Each side is playing chicken with the other, knowing full well that one side definitely doesn't want a jury trial. Finally, at the last minute, that side blinks, settles out of court, and the jury never has to appear. They were just being held in reserve, to call one side's bluff.
This happened with the drunk-driving case during jury selection back in 1996. One afternoon, jury selection began and it took about an hour to go through most of the 30 people brought into the courtroom. I was among the group in the jury box after answering a bunch of generic questions and before the lawyers had their chance to question us individually.

But the next morning, after some delay, we were brought to the courtroom only to be told the DA and the defendant had agreed to a plea bargain. The judge told us that the mere process of beginning jury selection can pressure one or both sides to make a deal to avoid a trial. It can be anything from one or both sides getting jitters about their chances to win, to each side being able to see how competent the other side is, to seeing the jurors they have to choose from at that moment, any or all of which can pressure a plea bargain.
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:00 PM   #44
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They actually ask you that? I wonder what it would take to disqualify you? Grateful Dead? Coexist? NRA? Or maybe my current favorite - "If I passed you on the right, you're in the wrong lane." I had to buy that one when I moved to Maryland.
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Yes, about 70 questions. Very involved personal questions you have to answer by order of the law. In many ways more personal than those long form census questionaires. Religious affiliations, what kind of work you do, how much you make, guns, etc. I know the lawyers go through the stack and do their profiling before calling you up in front of the group to ask you more questions, (if you make their cut the first time). What scares me about all this is what happens to the data when it is done? And I thought Facebook and the NSA was bad...
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:04 PM   #45
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Dave, one of my friends was on a Grand Jury for a murder case. In the Grand Jury, you do get to ask questions. Or at least you do here.
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Now that sounds like the way things should be done and the jury can really participate instead of being bumps on a log.

And HELLO Larro it's nice seeing you over here!...we are both members from another forum you guys...Tractor By Net.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:54 PM   #46
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Dave, one of my friends was on a Grand Jury for a murder case. In the Grand Jury, you do get to ask questions. Or at least you do here.
The county grand jury I served on was very informal. You could ask all the questions and make all ther commments you wanted.

The sheriff, the police chiefs of the incorporated towns, the state highway patrol, the officials from the state prison in the county, the officials from the state mental hospital in the county and DWFP (Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks) all presented their cases and would answer any questions and listen to any comments. There were dozens of cases. Most were cut and dried, but a few required serious discussion and debate.

The grand jury would decide and vote on whether to charge any individual and what charge(s). The district attorney representative would explain the charges and the law.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:15 PM   #47
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They actually ask you that? I wonder what it would take to disqualify you? Grateful Dead? Coexist? NRA? Or maybe my current favorite - "If I passed you on the right, you're in the wrong lane." I had to buy that one when I moved to Maryland.
I am thinking that any bumper sticker would disqualify you.

If you want to be sure of getting out of serving, tell em your sticker says:
"Horn broken, watch for finger".
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:24 PM   #48
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I always get dismissed when they find out I am an engineer. Thank you for your time Mr. Free to Canoe. Damn.

I finally did get on a trial once. It was a civil trial with a jury. One persons dog bit another dog. The defense must have rejected a hundred potentials. Boy was the judge getting pissed. That took all morning. After lunch, I discovered I was on a jury with mostly engineers! I could go on. Most everyone wanted to find everyone guilty, both victim and defendant. In the end, they even sent me a frameable certificate of thanks.

Around here, you have to know someone to get on the coveted jury duty.
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Old 07-26-2013, 05:46 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
As it was explained to me, a large number of cases are settled, one way or another, shortly before the trial is set to begin. Each side is playing chicken with the other, knowing full well that one side definitely doesn't want a jury trial. Finally, at the last minute, that side blinks, settles out of court, and the jury never has to appear. They were just being held in reserve, to call one side's bluff.
This is essentially how Thursday went for me at JP Court.

There were about 35 jurors-to-be. The site was the the smallest courthouse building I have ever seen. The tiny lobby had only about 20 seats, so several of us stood up or sat on the stairs leading to a second floor. Available personal space was roughly equivalent to a bus ride.

While we waited in the lobby, the court was running through the docket for the day. Folks were tip-toeing their way through the crowd to reach the courtroom door. Most came back into the lobby with their wallets ready and looking forlorn, picking their way through the crowd to the clerk's window.

After 90 minutes of waiting we were called into the courtroom. There were only enough seats in the courtroom after the judge waved the last few jurors up past the bar to sit in the jury box and at the (empty) defense table.

The judge told us we were not going to be needed. He, a young prosecutor and a defense attorney working the last case of the morning each thanked us for showing up. The prosecutor's speech sounded very much like braumeister's post.

One interesting thing the defense lawyer said: at the start of the day in this low level court, the court and the prosecution have essentially no factual information on the cases to be heard. In higher level misdemeanor cases a prosecutor has accepted the charges filed by the police. For a felony case, the charges will have been true-billed by a grand jury. But for a traffic ticket or Class C misdemeanor, only the officer and the defendant know anything about the case. Whether a jury trial might be requested is only known after the case is called and the defendant approaches the bench to speak to the judge.

Some days may have 4 or more jury trials. Other days - like yesterday - have none.

The judge said we must have been an intimidating group, sitting elbow-to-elbow out in that tiny lobby.
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Old 07-26-2013, 05:47 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
As it was explained to me, a large number of cases are settled, one way or another, shortly before the trial is set to begin. Each side is playing chicken with the other, knowing full well that one side definitely doesn't want a jury trial. Finally, at the last minute, that side blinks, settles out of court, and the jury never has to appear. They were just being held in reserve, to call one side's bluff.
This is essentially how Thursday went for me at JP Court.

There were about 35 jurors-to-be. The site was the the smallest courthouse building I have ever seen. The tiny lobby had only about 20 seats, so several of us stood up or sat on the stairs leading to a second floor. Available personal space was roughly equivalent to a bus ride.

While we waited in the lobby, the court was running through the docket for the day. Folks were tip-toeing their way through the crowd to reach the courtroom door. Most came back into the lobby with their wallets ready and looking forlorn, picking their way through the crowd to the clerk's window.

After 90 minutes of waiting we were called into the courtroom. There were only enough seats in the courtroom after the judge waved the last few jurors up past the bar to sit in the jury box and at the (empty) defense table.

The judge told us we were not going to be needed. He, a young prosecutor and a defense attorney working the last case of the morning each thanked us for showing up. The prosecutor's speech sounded very much like braumeister's post.

One interesting thing the defense lawyer said: at the start of the day in this low level court, the court and the prosecution have essentially no factual information on the cases to be heard. In higher level misdemeanor cases a prosecutor has accepted the charges filed by the police. For a felony case, the charges will have been true-billed by a grand jury. But for a traffic ticket or Class C misdemeanor, only the officer and the defendant know anything about the case. Whether a jury trial might be requested is only known after the case is called and the defendant approaches the bench to speak to the judge.

Some days may have 4 or more jury trials. Other days - like yesterday - have none.

The judge said we must have been an intimidating group, sitting elbow-to-elbow out in that tiny lobby.
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No doubt a continuous prosperity, though spendthrift, is preferable to an economy thriftily moral, though lean. Nevertheless, that prosperity would seem more soundly shored if, by a saving grace, more of us had the grace to save.

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