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Old 06-21-2014, 02:52 PM   #21
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I have been called to serve 3 times (actually 4 if you count the time I had moved out of the jurisdiction so that was the end of that). All were in the same county in my home state (New York).

The first time was in 1987. It was a shoplifting case and we went to verdict (we convicted her). In a criminal case, the judge oversees the questioning and we were first handed a sheet of paper with a set of boilerplate questions we had to answer. Then the DA and defense lawyer asked more specific and juror-specific questions. As jurors got excused, others from the pool replaced them and got caught up.

The second time was in 1996. It was a drunk-driving case but before the second day of juror selection there was a plea deal. I was in the jury box among those beginning to get specific questions when we recessed for the day. We went back to central jury for one more day then got released.

The third time was in 2007. This time, I was part of a pool which was being questioned for a civil case. Unlike in a criminal case, only the two yakkety lawyers do the questioning. We were not in a courtroom and there was no judge until the entire jury is selected. It took the whole day to select 6 jurors and one alternate but I and a few of the original ~30 potential jurors were never chosen to replace the many others who were either picked or, in most cases, excused. In order to not taint the rest of the jurors, a juror being questioned often went outside our little room to chat with the two lawyers privately. Most of the time, they got excused. After spending an entire day watching this mostly boring process, the few of us who were never individually questioned were released from further jury duty. (yay)
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Old 06-21-2014, 03:18 PM   #22
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How jury calls work, Mulligan, depends on your state (were you called to state court jury duty or federal?) and can even vary among counties.

Back the first time I was called to jury duty (many years ago), you were called for a week and you had to hang around the courthouse every day for the entire week unless you were called to be on a jury. Nowadays it is usually for half a day where I live (unless you get picked of course).

I would love to be on a jury. But, as a lawyer, most other lawyers don't want to pick me to be on a jury. So, I've never gotten picked.

As for what kinds of things you might be asked (if you get called to a specific panel), it really depends upon the kind of case and where you are in the group. That is, the last case I was on a panel for I was in the back of the room (it was a very large panel. I think I was juror no. 70-something). I know that based upon the number of people on the jury (12 in this case), alternates, and peremptory strikes available to each side, it was exceedingly unlikely I would be called. There would have to be a lot of people struck for cause before they would "reach" me. So, most of the heavy questioning focused on people closer to the front.

Anyway, potential jurors are asked questions usually that would bear upon bias or prejudice that might relate to the case at hand. For example, on that panel, apparently the defendant (criminal case) was accused of drug dealing. I had the feeling from the questions asked that this was a circumstantial evidence case. So a lot of questions dealt with how people feel about circumstantial evidence, how you feel about people accused of dealing drugs (could you be fair), whether you automatically think a police officer is more credible than non-police officers, etc. On the other hand, I was once on a panel for a domestic violence case and the questions for that focused more on the issues related to domestic violence. In a civil case, then questions would be more likely to focus on matters that might relate to that kind of case. Normally, the political views of a panel member wouldn't be relevant, but I could envision cases where they might be (for example, a politician on trial or a case involving violation of election law, etc.).
In Connecticut state courts, the rule is one day or one trial if you are picked for the jury. There is a phone number that you call the night before to see if you must appear. If you actually go in for the day and don't get picked, you're usually free from a call for the next three years.

Once you arrive at court, you are given a jury questionnaire to complete. It asks whether you or a member of your family is in law enforcement or is a lawyer, and a few other personal questions, such as place and type of employment. These questionnaires are given to the lawyers who will conduct the voir dire. You also watch a film about the court process and your potential role in it.

In the first step, all the people called for the day are herded into the courtroom and questioned as a group by the judge. This is designed to weed out quickly people who cannot be on a jury due to a variety of common personal reasons -- have child care responsibilities, or medical care for the elderly, or their own health issues, or work that won't pay them if they are on a jury, vacation plans etc. The ones with a valid reason are excused and the remaining people are then given an oath and become the venire (the pool of potential jurors.) They then go to another room to wait for voir dire.

The Connecticut state constitution provides for individual voir dire. Which means that each individual venireman is called into the courtroom alone and questioned by the attorneys for each side. Normally, the judge is not in the court at that time, unless there is a challenge for cause and the other side won't stipulate. Then the judge will be called in and will question the venireman to determine whether cause exists.

I have picked a number of juries, and the basic point of voir dire is to determine whether people have pre-existing biases that call into question their ability to fairly and dispassionately evaluate the evidence and render a verdict. For example, if I represent a large corporation, I'd like to know if the person was involved in Occupy Wall Street. People are often very reluctant to answer direct questions about their political or religious beliefs and they often will be angry at you for asking, so I had a variety of ways to elicit information that might help me decide if they should be a juror. For example, I would ask them if they had any bumper stickers on their car and what they said. I might then ask them why they chose to put that on their car. Or I might ask them what was the last book they read and then explore what they liked about it and what they didn't, and why. You would be surprised how revealing a discussion like that can be.

My personal experience is similar to Katsmeow. I have been called several times, but only once made it into the venire. Then I was the first called for voir dire and was excused by mutual consent of the attorneys as soon as I walked into the courtroom.
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Old 06-21-2014, 03:33 PM   #23
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It is surprising that some of the posters have been called for jury so few times. I have been called at least 8 times (I lost count). In all but 3 times, we just sat around all day, then were dismissed. In the 3 times that I was selected for voir dire, I was not selected for one civil case, chosen for one drunken driving case, and for a serious criminal case.

The drunken driving case was clear cut and only took one day, but the criminal case involved rape charges, conspiracy to commit murder, arson, the works, hence took 1 month! It was very stressful for me trying to do the right thing as a juror, and next time I get selected for one like that I will ask to be excused.

By the way, just a week ago, I wondered what sentencing term was handed down to the defendant, so searched for the case on the Web. Yes, I found that he appealed, but the verdict was upheld. I also found out that the judge died soon after this case for lung cancer. He was not that old and looked trim and healthy.
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Old 06-21-2014, 04:18 PM   #24
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When my jury pool group went through the process they asked us our occupation and spouses occupation. If anyone in the family worked for law enforcement or was a lawyer they were eliminated. A few other questions about if you knew any of the participants on either side. Do you have any issues that would preclude participation, such as hearing or vision issues, or can't sit for a few hours, etc.
These were some of our basic questions plus general questions regarding the case. Nothing specific about the case.

I've been called 4 times and picked for 3 juries over the past 10 years. One case finally got continued and we were dismissed. This case was a mess, the first day they forgot to bring the prisoner to the courthouse, second day the judge was sick, third day the attorneys got into a big fight and we were dismissed. Second jury heard all the opening remarks and testimony and on the second day we were dismissed because they settled. Third jury we got canceled due to snow. 4th time sat in jury lounge (actually I sat outside in the courtyard) until we were released for lunch round 11:30 told to come back at 1:30 and we dismissed at 2. These were all county jurys and we are 1 day and if not picked you are done with your duty. To me, there is so much waste. Oh and wait until you get your big pay check and have to report it on your taxes.
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Old 06-21-2014, 04:43 PM   #25
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Lived in California for 12 years and was called to jury duty probably 10 times. Have lived in Arizona for the last 17 years and have not been called once. Served on many juries in California and found the criminal cases to be a real PITA. Very difficult to get all 10 jurors to agree on something unless it's Friday afternoon then you'll see jurors cave in just to get it over with before the weekend. Then you'll have the juror who can't recall any of the facts in the case and will come to their decision because they didn't like how a witness/defendant dressed or looked. I didn't come away with a lot of faith in the jury system.
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Old 06-21-2014, 05:08 PM   #26
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I was a jury foreman once. It was a drug case. I was asked if I was an NRA member, or had any dealings with the ATF. Since I am NRA life member, and a FFL holder, I answered yes to both. It didn't matter.

I also had a cast on my arm, and had a doctors appointment in a couple of days, it didn't matter.

It was a good experience and was worth it.
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Old 06-21-2014, 05:09 PM   #27
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From the posts it is clear that procedures vary a lot between different locales. 2 little anecdotes.

Some years ago, DH was called to be on the panel for a capital murder case. He had to fill a very lengthy written questionnaire about his views on the death penalty (he was for it) and various other things (way more than on the standard questionaire). Jurors were individually voir dired (not standard here).

At the time I worked for a law firm and, of course, that was information on his questionnaire. Basically the prosecutor was concerned because the head of the firm where I worked had a son who was a lawyer who was a noted death penalty opponent. So he wondered if DH would feel he couldn't vote for the death penalty because he might be afraid that the head of my firm would be mad at me because his son was against the death penalty. DH was just dumbfounded by the entire line of questions because he had no idea the head of my firm even had a son let alone the son's opinion on the death penalty and he could care less what they thought anyway. So, the prosecutor ended up striking him from the jury. (The irony of the whole thing was that the head of the firm I was with told me that, while his son might oppose the death penalty, he was in favor of it).

Another story. Many years ago, when I was a young lawyer, we went to trial in a civil case and the judge asked the lawyers how long we thought the case would last. Our opposing counsel said 2 days. We said something like a month. So the judge told the panel the trial would last 2 weeks.

Well, we were the closest to right although even we underestimated it a bit. I think the jury was probably not too happy to be told it would last 2 weeks and then have it take about 3 times that long, particularly since it started before Thanksgiving and ended a week or so before Christmas (that weekend I saw several jurors and lawyers involved in the case at the shopping mall getting Christmas shopping done).
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Old 06-22-2014, 07:11 AM   #28
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In Connecticut state courts, the rule is one day or one trial if you are picked for the jury. There is a phone number that you call the night before to see if you must appear. If you actually go in for the day and don't get picked, you're usually free from a call for the next three years.

Once you arrive at court, you are given a jury questionnaire to complete. It asks whether you or a member of your family is in law enforcement or is a lawyer, and a few other personal questions, such as place and type of employment. These questionnaires are given to the lawyers who will conduct the voir dire. You also watch a film about the court process and your potential role in it.

In the first step, all the people called for the day are herded into the courtroom and questioned as a group by the judge. This is designed to weed out quickly people who cannot be on a jury due to a variety of common personal reasons -- have child care responsibilities, or medical care for the elderly, or their own health issues, or work that won't pay them if they are on a jury, vacation plans etc. The ones with a valid reason are excused and the remaining people are then given an oath and become the venire (the pool of potential jurors.) They then go to another room to wait for voir dire.
This is similar to the process used when I was called in NY. In our case the trial length was expected to be unusually long (2 months) and that made jury selection much more difficult. It took about a week to choose the jury and alternates, and the things people did to get out of serving were astounding.

For me the trial was eye-opening. I was deeply impressed by the Judge and the way he managed the process, kept things focused and on track, always had an amazing awareness and control of everything that was happening in the courtroom.

The other thing that made an immediate and permanent impression is the importance of choosing an effective attorney.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:41 AM   #29
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When I lived in Colorado, I was called, and picked, twice, and found it to be one of the most boring and frustrating things I ever had to sit through. Both trials lasted about a week.

I have no patience for delays or people who use every excuse to stonewall something, and I thought the number of sidebars and objections in both cases was ridiculous. I wanted so bad to shout out "Quit stalling!" at the damn lawyers.

EDIT: And reading about some of these trials that took months...there's no way I'd sit on a jury that long. I've often wondered if you owned a home in another state, if you could claim you're "moving" there in the next couple days and therefore ineligible to serve.
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Old 06-23-2014, 02:44 PM   #30
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Just read in the local newspaper where the ABA has decided it is ethical for lawyers and their consultants to search online social media sites about prospective jurors. They may already have their mind made up about you before they even start asking you questions.
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Old 06-23-2014, 02:59 PM   #31
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Just read in the local newspaper where the ABA has decided it is ethical for lawyers and their consultants to search online social media sites about prospective jurors. They may already have their mind made up about you before they even start asking you questions.
It would have to be a high profile case for this to happen. In Harris county they give each juror a number and fill panels by number. Since only 1/2 of those called show no one can know who will be on a jury. The Bailiff hands the lawyers the questionnaires when he escorts the jury to a courtroom.
Now for some cases where exhaustive questionnaires are used there may be a chance to review before hand, but not on usual cases with public defenders. (Once again if you can pay for a very good lawyer you can get better justice, but there is nothing new about this it was this way in the roman empire also)
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Old 06-23-2014, 04:45 PM   #32
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Been called in numerous times, but never made it past initial questioning. I think that lawyers avoid anyone that is logical or a critical thinker. When asked my profession, Being an engineer seems to get me out from jury selection, although lose a day just going to the court and showing up.

When I lived in CA I was constantly called for jury duty, I could just about set my calendar for 2 years after. It was ridiculous.
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Old 06-23-2014, 04:52 PM   #33
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Just read in the local newspaper where the ABA has decided it is ethical for lawyers and their consultants to search online social media sites about prospective jurors. They may already have their mind made up about you before they even start asking you questions.

I read that too. But if they looked me up they would find nothing. But then again, I imagine that in and of itself would leave an impression nonetheless.


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Old 06-23-2014, 05:00 PM   #34
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Been called in numerous times, but never made it past initial questioning. I think that lawyers avoid anyone that is logical or a critical thinker. When asked my profession, Being an engineer seems to get me out from jury selection, although lose a day just going to the court and showing up.

When I lived in CA I was constantly called for jury duty, I could just about set my calendar for 2 years after. It was ridiculous.
Wow, only 2 years? That's pretty slim. Here in New York, we are told 7 years and that includes jury duty of any type such as federal grand jury we can use to get excused if that had occurred within the last 7 years. I had 9-year and 11-year gaps between being called and it has been nearly 7 years since my last time (so I may get called again soon).
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Old 06-23-2014, 05:17 PM   #35
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Been called in numerous times, but never made it past initial questioning. I think that lawyers avoid anyone that is logical or a critical thinker. When asked my profession, Being an engineer seems to get me out from jury selection, although lose a day just going to the court and showing up.
That's the theory many of my friends have. But then, suddenly I was picked twice in recent years, while being passed up several times earlier. Perhaps being retired had something to do with getting picked.
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Old 06-23-2014, 05:57 PM   #36
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Been called in numerous times, but never made it past initial questioning. I think that lawyers avoid anyone that is logical or a critical thinker.
Well, it may depend upon which side of the case they represent. On most of my juries, I would have loved to have logical, critical thinkers....
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:18 PM   #37
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One of the reasons I much prefer bench trials.
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:24 PM   #38
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I've only been called once for jury duty, and I ended up not only being selected, but I was the foreman! This was in 2007 or '08. Long story short, we found the guy guilty and he went to prison. I had to flex my foreman muscle a bit, though...lol.

I explained the whole thing in an earlier thread on here....it's around here someplace.
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:32 AM   #39
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38Chevy is right - in California they call fairly frequently, unless you're selected for a trial. If you're dismissed without being empaneled you will likely be called back within 2 or 3 years. The 1 day 1 trial is a good slogan - but not technically accurate - if voir dire goes for more than 1 day - it doesn't count as a trial and you'll be called back on the shorter cycle.

My husband gets selected every time he goes - and is called about every 4 years. I have never been selected in CA... again, being an engineer seems to be the reason. My 3 day voir dire experience ended with a pool of 150 folks being questioned (they had to bring in a second group because they dismissed too many from the first group.) They let about 60 engineers go just for being engineers. (It was a criminal trademark infringement case - knockoff coach and gucci bags - and they felt engineers were too strongly tied to intellectual property = cash. Personally I felt it should have been civil because despite the supreme court, I have issues with the corporations are people concept.)

The federal courts call you for a full month - you have to call in every day for a month to see if they need you.
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:14 AM   #40
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I remember from my 1996 jury duty the woman who ran the central jury room was an interesting but compassionate character. Here is what she did for us:

In my first day of jury duty (Monday), I and a bunch of others were herded up to a courtroom for a criminal case (the drunk driving case I mentioned in the earlier post) in the late afternoon. Many jurors were questioned and some were dismissed on just the boilerplate questions or for other reasons with others from the small pool (including myself) called into the jury box to replace them. At about 4 PM the judge recessed for the day and told us we would be brought back to his courtroom the next morning.

The next morning (Tuesday) we were brought back to his courtroom but had to wait outside in the hallway. Through the door's window we saw the ADA, the defendant, and the judge having a lengthy chat before we were brought in. The judge told us they had agreed on a plea deal and thanked us for our time. We were brought back to central jury so we could be selected for another case. [They had some board games we could play in the lounge area so some of us played Monopoly for a while. One woman had to use the rest room so I sat in for a few minutes. We played a joke on her as I flipped over all of her property cards (mortgaged) and hid her cash so she would think I bankrupted her in 5 minutes. We got her really good LOL!]

Anyway, around 3 PM the woman running the central jury room made a proposal to everyone. With new jurors comng in the next day (Wednesday), she knew she did not need all of us to return. She also knew that many of us were itching to leave early before the rush hour began. She gave us a choice: if any of us wanted to leave early, we had to return the next day and would be dismissed (early) if not selected for questioning that day (Wednesday). Or, we could stay until 5 but then we would be finished with jury duty if we were not taken to a courtroom or questioned by civil case lawyers. She would try to accommodate everyone's wishes as long as she had enough people in both camps. It worked, she had a pretty even split. (I had some early evening activities so I chose to leave early and return the next day. I was getting paid full salary by my employer so being spared a day on the trains was fine with me.)

Everyone got what they wanted so we were reasonably happy.
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