Judging a Jury of My Peers

This morning I reported for jury duty at the county courthouse. I had mixed feelings about being there (because selection would mean I’d have to reschedule an appointment set for tomorrow), but was mostly focused on doing my civic duty.

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I was pulled from the larger pool into a group of 36 potential jurors for a criminal trial of a man charged with doing $1000 – $25,000 in property damages (this was the summary given by judge before jury selection; basically, a vandalism trial). Twenty-two names were drawn from a box (twelve in jury box and ten seated in front as alternates; I was not one of them) and those people were interviewed by the judge. After that, the prosecutor and defense attorney each had thirty minutes to ask those potential jurors questions that would help them determine who was and who was not a good fit for that jury.

Holy crap. I’m paraphrasing, but it went like this:

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If someone is charged, it usually means they’re guilty.”

“In Italy, where I’m from, a person is presumed guilty until proved innocent.” (Paging Amanda Knox!)

“I’m a former police officer and I would always believe testimony from the police.”

“People don’t get stopped for no reason.” (I wanted to shout “Do you have any idea how many men get pulled over for Driving While Black?!”)

It was a fascinating peek into the minds of my fellow citizens in mostly-white Jefferson County, Colorado. When the prosecutor asked each person “Do you think you’d be a good juror?” I thought to myself, “Yes, I’d be a good juror.” And then I started thinking about why I would be a good juror, and I decided it was because of my strong sense of justice and fair play. But then he pressed one woman for why she thought she’d be a good juror and she said, “Because I’d want me on my jury,” and my brain went *ping*

That’s it, I thought. The proof that I’d be a good juror is that I know for a fact I’d want me on my jury. Somehow, that epiphany was such a relief!

Except. It turns out that I’m not so unique. A bunch of other potential jurors repeated that same sentiment. And then Zebu confessed to having that same *ping* this afternoon when I repeated that woman’s remark. Which leads me to believe that if we ALL feel that way, maybe it’s not a very compelling argument.

So now I’m broadening my field of inquiry: Would YOU feel better having yourself on your own jury? And, if so, why do you think that is?

5 thoughts on “Judging a Jury of My Peers

  1. I actually wouldn’t be a great juror, I don’t think. First, I’m too much like Switzerland (ha), and second, when I have my opinions, they don’t necessarily ‘fit’ with what most people would think (or the law might support). 😉

    • That’s interesting, Robin. I got the distinct feeling from a couple of the people today that they didn’t feel as if their viewpoints fit the mainstream, yet they also expressed belief they would be good jurors. And now that I think of it, many said stuff that made it sound as if they were also like Switzerland.

      Just when I think I’ve identified a trend…

  2. Yeah, I think I would be a good juror. And my name is in the pile for jury duty apparently. I’m pretty fair and I love to watch legal tv shows. But, hmm, after seeing that recent outbreak of courtroom violence in The Good Wife, I’m hoping they won’t call me after all.

    • I get the sense you’d be a good juror, too. As for the violence in The Good Wife, that was horrifying. Fortunately, there wasn’t an armed officer in our court and the proceedings were pretty mellow.

  3. Pingback: Hmmmm Factor : The death of the presumption of innocence | Family Survival Protocol - Microcosm News

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