Saturday, April 2, 2011

I just was on jury duty...

Well, I just finished up a period of petit jury duty for my county's court system. It was a bit different than when I my last served on petit jury duty. Let me explain by telling this tale of my history of jury duty service.

The first time I served on petit jury duty was several years ago. I was asked to serve for a two-week period at that time. I was selected to sit on a total of three cases, and was on hand for a fourth day before leaving due to the pending cases being settled by the parties. The first case was a domestic battery case, which lasted one whole day. Jury was selected, trial began, two people testifying for the county, two testified for the defense, jury made its decision, and the defendant was convicted. Not bad for a first case.

Second case was a civil case, but I was excused (no comment as to why).

Third case was a criminal assault case, but I never found out the verdict as I was the alternate juror. Case went into a second day for final arguments for the lawyers, and I was excused as the alternate was not needed at that point.

There was an incident during my service. Remember the day when I was on hand but was let go? Well, I was on my way to get some lunch before going back to work, when I noticed several emergency vehicles rushing towards the courthouse. Later on I heard that a man had entered one of the court rooms and threw an incendiary device at the judge's bench. It did not do any harm, but it did a lot of property damage. This was well before 9/11, so security was not the top priority that it is nowadays.

My second petit jury duty experience was several years later at the new Federal Court in my town. Now, in orientation I was told that my jury duty period was for a three-month period, but because the court docket was planned out in advance they knew that the court would only have one total case for that period. I was on hand for jury selection, but was not selected. With it being a new building (and a Federal court to boot), security was a lot more extensive than my remembrance of the county's court house. Mind you that it was post 9/11, so security would be enhanced.

As for my most recent call, I was asked to serve at the county courthouse for this last week. First of all, the county's courthouse was completely renovated after the fire bomb incident (plus that it was a very old building). Now the public can only go through one entrance (with its requisite metal detectors). And now they also ban all cell phones inside the building to protect any juror from having his or her image splashed on any web page. Anyways, there was only one case this last week, and that was a civil assault case involving two employees of the local university (a professor and an IT person, I believe). It was expected to last three or four days, but I was not called.

Now, I do like to serve on juries. I have not had a bad experience in serving, so that helps. Plus, I had a teacher back in high school who extolled the virtues of jury service as a civic duty. I would like to someday serve on a grand jury and also serve on a Federal jury, if possible. Not that I am going out of my way to volunteer. If it never happens, so be it.

No comments:

Post a Comment