Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guilty…or not guilty…that is the question


Duffy Brown here chewing my fingernails to the quick.
I’ve been called for jury duty and I can’t decide if I’m excited or scared to death.

I got myself prepared for this by watching Run-away Jury (very good) My Cousin Vinny (very funny), To Kill a Mockingbird (very chilling).

The excited part is that I get to see the legal system up close and personal. How it works, who does what, one of the best parts of America at work for sure. I wonder how they pick people to serve? Names in a hat? I worked the voting polls for years, maybe that list?

I got called once before for jury duty about thirty years ago. I just gave birth and they were not accepting that as an excuse back then. I had no one...and I do mean no one...to leave the baby with. My husband could have taken the baby except for the breast-feeding situation.

Finally I pleaded and begged and said just give me a year and I’ll be there, I swear. Well, thirty years later they took me up on it.

The scared part of all this of course is the case. Each case is important and then making a decision…the right decision. I see nightmares ahead on this one. I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I bought the right shoes to go with that dress? Did I get the right wine to go with that dinner? Making the right decision is very scary indeed and with something so important it takes scary to a whole new level.

One of my neighbors got called for a murder trail. They could not have had a better person on the jury as she is very intelligent and calm. I’ve had two lawyer friends called and again they are very good candidates as they know law and are rational.

Then there’s the mystery write who kills people for a living. Lord have mercy. I’m wondering how that’s going to play out in any courtroom with any lawyer. I’ll let you know.

So I’m asking you all for advice. Have you been on jury duty? What’s it like? What do I need to know? How did you survive? Were you as scared as I am?

Thanks for chatting. I’ll keep you posted.
Hugs, Duffy Brown







43 comments:

Stephanie Jones said...

Duffy, I found jury duty to be very interesting. Of course, the last jury I was on was pretty laughable. The only defense the guy had was that he intended to consume the drugs in another county (nearby suburb). One thing you want to do is find a good book, or stick your Kindle in your purse. There was a lot of sitting and waiting in my experience. Oh, and enjoy the people watching.

Anonymous said...

Duffy---I have somewhat experienced it from both sides. I was a criminal defense attorney (never murder) for a time and I got called for jury duty while I was still an attorney but not doing criminal cases. Never made it onto a jury because both cases were DUIIs and the assistant D.A.s kicked me off as soon as they knew I had done defense work. Interestingly, the D.A.s who knew me said they would have kept me on because they knew I was intelligent and fair. I agree with Stephanie about bringing a good book or some kind of needlework because it can be pretty boring waiting around. Also, don't be scared unless you intend to be dishonest. If you know any of the people, including witnesses, let the court know. If you think you may have read too much about a case and have formed an opinion, let the court know. Probably the scariest case going on in the country right now is the Boston Marathon bombing case and yet a jury was seated. Cordella

Amanda said...

I've been asked twice. The first time I was looking forward to it. It seemed interesting and I wanted to see how cases unfolded in a courtroom. But, all the waiting really gets to you. My advise, take a good book with you, you will be sitting around a lot waiting. I didn't get placed on a case that time, I came close two times though. Each one had drugs as there main issue but one of them had abuse charges to it too, because a cop got punched. The second time I got asked, I was able to get out of it because, By then, I had a night job and I wasn't able to go because I don't drive.

Zena Weldon said...

I've not served yet. My friend served on a number of juries in New York City. She talked about the waiting as have the others above. I believe you will do your best, Duffy, and that's all anyone can do. Perhaps it might help to remind yourself "One step at a time." I believe you would pay attention and listen carefully. Those seem to be the traits needed for the job.

Lesley said...

Duffy, I just finished two days at jury selection but was not chosen. There were 200 of us. The names are chosen from the bureau of Motor Vehicle licenses. It was fascinating to watch the system at work . Have fun!

Kate Collins said...

My husband was the Chief Public Defender of our county, so I had a real inside look at criminal (including murder) cases. They're fascinating to watch but from my husband's viewpoint, he was NOT the guy in the white hat. That was the prosecutor, so the jury was usually biased toward whatever he said, including some outright lies. My hubby always said that his job was not pleasant, but it was important because he was often the only person standing up for the Constitutional right of having representation. So if you get chosen, keep in mind that for the DA and the defense atty, it's a chess game.

loveamystery said...

Family consist of nuns, lawyers, doctors and priests, daughter wants to go to law school. While I have sat in court and watched, in all my years never been called but my twin sister has. Most cases are boring so no need to worry you have an active imagination so that may deter you from being chosen. Have a "it's an experience" time and just think foder for. Good book for Regan. Let us know how it goes.

Karen in Ohio said...

You'll be excellent, if called to serve, Duffy. I know that.

I've been called three times, but not for years. All three times I was traveling with my own business, and had schedules out of town that I could not change, so I've never actually served. Now that I've been "retired" for the last eight years, naturally they haven't requested me.

As to how they choose, I'm pretty sure they go by registered voters. I wouldn't swear to it, but I have a dim memory of someone telling me that, years ago.

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I have been picked for 2 federal jury cases. I was called for another one but got out of it because I had to take my aunt for chemo. First off, you might not even be picked. There will be a lot of people and then they question all of them until they have the right amount. The two cases I was on were police brutality At first I thought the police were in the wrong but as the case went on, I could see that the police were in the right. Each case took a whole week and I had to drive into Hartford during rush hour each day. I kind of liked being on the jury. I lead a dull life and thought it was exciting. Now I'm too old to be on a jury. I guess after a certain age you they don't want you. The murder cases are not federal so I didn't worry about that. Is it federal court? Or is it district court that your have been called for?. Don't worry about it, it's all in the preponderance of the evidence. . I think that is what they call it and becomes clear as it goes on.

mary kennedy said...

I've been called for jury duty but never chosen. They seem to call way too many people! I cooled my heels in the waiting area for a sold 3 hours (!) and then was sent home. I think you'll find it really interesting...chances are, you may have the same experience I did, so be sure to bring a bottle of water and a book Good luck with it....it should be interesting!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

I haven't had the call yet. Some of my friends have had it three times. That's random for you!

Good luck, Duffy.

Hugs.

MJ/VA

Miss Merry said...

The first time I was called, I actually got seated! It took longer to seat the jury than to try the case. The girl was charged with hit and run; her defense was, yes, she did it,but she had insurance. They had to go to to trial and provide her with a public defender because the offense carried jail time and she refused to settle. I was back to work by 11 a.m.

The second time was very interesting. The case had to do with drug sales, there were undercover people and informants on the witness list and the drugs were sold with children in the home. We waited for hours and hours while they sat the jury and I did not get picked. I highly recommend the book thing also!

emilia.m said...

I've been asked once but not chosen :)
My Husband was asked and chosen. He liked the experience overall, hadn't it be for the fact that it made him miss our Son's First Birthday, and he couldn't call even as they were locked up ( I know, I know, not a good term for that, but that's how it felt to me!) trying to come up with a decision, finally they decided on some of the guys crimes, but one was still left, so they were told there will be one more trial for that one...
so, mixed feelings :) good luck though!!! :D like you said - it could be valuable experience for you and your writing!!! :)

Robert Giddings said...

I've found the procedure frustrating. Court doesn't start until 10:00, lunch is noon until 2:00, call it a day at 4:00. No court on Monday or Friday.

I was called for a dui case, new the defense attorney, and several of the witnesses. Thought for sure I'd be excused, but no, had to sit there. The defendant admitted to drinking at least 2 Long Island Ice Teas. There was dash camera footage of her being pulled over and obviosly failing dexterity test. Blood alcohol was almost twice the legal level. Why this case came to trial made no sense. Took less than 10 minutes to reach a guilty verdict. Waste of time and money.

However, for the system to work we all have to take part. An attorney friend reminded me that if I were facing a jury trial I'd want the jury to consist of more than seniors with nothing better to do, and people too stupid to get out of jury duty.

Embrace the experience and take a good book.

Duffy Brown said...

On Stephanie, I love it! How did that ever make it to a jury trial? Got my book packed and my pb&j ready to go. Thanks for the tip.

Duffy Brown said...

An attorney…you should write a book! You’ve seen so much. I probably couldn’t be on the jury for the Boston bombing…I think I already have an opinion and it just wouldn’t be fair. Also, I doubt they would put me on anything with kids as I have 4 and two grandkids. I am sure you are an amazing attorney…you have such good advise. Thank you.

Sharon Osenga said...

I have been called twice; seated once. It was a civil case and I was voted to be the jury foreman. This is not a job that you want because you have to keep the jury on track and make them look at all of the evidence before deciding upon a verdict. Most of the jury members wanted to vote without discussing the evidence just to get out of the courthouse. After the verdict is decided upon, you sign an official paper as foreman that is then read out in court and you confirm it on behalf of the jury. I was surprised at how emotional that was, even in a civil case. I cannot imagine a life or death criminal case.

Duffy Brown said...

Hi Amanda. Twice! Wow. I don’t mind the waiting part with a good book. I just worry on making a bad decision. Thanks for chiming in. Hugs, Duffy

Duffy Brown said...

My daughter was called in NYC too and the case was horrid…involving a child and hospital where things went wrong. They didn’t choose her for the jury. I think she told them straight out she’d never find against the child and for the insurance company.

Duffy Brown said...

yes, the BMV! So far they have not called in any jury and that’s fine by me…I got a chance to do my taxes but I do think it would be interesting to see it all up close.

Duffy Brown said...

Oh Kate! Hats off to your husband. What a great guy. Yes, both sides need the best attorneys available. How interesting to hear all the stories from the lawyer’s point of view.

Duffy Brown said...

What a wonderful and interesting family. What great discussions. I’ll be just fine with boring. Thanks for the tip. Hugs, Duffy

Duffy Brown said...

Hi, Karen. It will be interesting to see what they think of the mystery writer aspect.
And it is all great info for a book. Thanks for chatting. Have a great time at Malice. What a fun gig. Hugs, Duffy

Duffy Brown said...

Hi, Diane. Wonderful advice. It seems one way until the stories are told and the evidence presented. I’ll keep that in mind. Nothing is open and shut. Thanks for the top. The jury I’ve been called for is just district. Thanks for chatting. Hugs, Duffy

Duffy Brown said...

Hi Mary. The waiting drives everyone nuts. My son was called and met such great people. He loved it. LOL

Duffy Brown said...

Hi, MJ. Wow, three times. I guess it really is random. I had no idea.

Duffy Brown said...

Oh, Miss Merry. It is amazing what you see. I think this is just on TV and here it is for real. The poor kids. So sad. I think I’ll take my Italian flashcards to pass the time. Maybe a new setting will help me remember something.

Duffy Brown said...

Hi, Emilia. Wow, Your husband had to stay there. That is a big case. Rotten that he missed your son’s first b-day! That’s a biggie.Very noble of him to serve. Sounds like a great guy.

Duffy Brown said...

Oh the jury system is one of that cornerstones of America. Your attorney friend is so right. Thanks for chatting, Robert. I really appreciate it.

Duffy Brown said...

Oh Sharon, they chose the right person to be foreman…you did a great job and took it very seriously. Well done!

Karen in Ohio said...

Duffy, I looked this up. In Ohio, at least, jury duty does come from voter registration, in a Presidential election year.

LD Masterson said...

I served for a civil trial - big company suing former employee. I thought going in I'd have trouble siding with the big guy but it was the other way around. The employee had exploited a loophole in company policy to force the company to pick up the tab on something (big bucks). Most of the jury agreed the employee was guilty of pulling a fast one (and was basically a scumbag) but the loophole was legal so we had to find in his favor. Very unsatisfying. Hope your experience is a better one.

Annette N said...

Have been called 3 times. Only twice was I actually called to sit on a jury. I was made foreman (think it was cause I was first in line) and we heard the start of a civil case. It was a property dispute. Suddenly we were excused because somehow in a deep dark room somewhere they had come to an agreement. And I was so ready. Second time, a young man had been driving under the influence and hit someone and done great injury. When we were being asked questions, I was asked if I drank. I do not because I have a mold allergy. The defense attorney wanted me gone. Hurt my feelings big time. I reckon I will never appear on a Perry Mason show.

Lynn Delage said...

I have been called many times but never served. Then last year I was called for traffic court. I was seated because this is a 6-man jury, they had 2 cases and only 12 people so everyone there was seated. I was quite interesting. The accused was protesting his traffic ticket as he said there was so speed limit sign. He was going 47 in a 35 mph zone. We decided he was guilty as 47 was too fast for the neighborhood but only gave him a $50 fine as he was from out of town and had not seen the speed limit sign.

Duffy Brown said...

Thanks, Karen. I worked the polls for years and always vote so that’s it. Just wondering.

Duffy Brown said...

Oh LD that is a shame to have to fine one way when the fault was clearly with the other person. The law is the law but it is not always fair.

Duffy Brown said...

I’ll never make Perry either, Annette. A mystery author just won’t make the cut. LOL

Duffy Brown said...

You were fantastic. Well done. Lynn.

Rachelle21 said...

I have had to report for jury duty but was not called and that was many years ago. Since, now I live in a smaller community it might be difficult for me to be chosen for a case as I might know someone who is involved in it. I have been a witness in court and had watched and followed a case when I was in High School.
I knew the defendant deserved a new trial as the judge made a mistake. He did get one so I know I was correct.

Duffy Brown said...

Lordy, the judge messed up. I’m sure it happens. So glad the guy got a retrial. Nothing is perfect. Thanks for chatting, Rachelle.

emilia.m said...

yup he is :D

Linda Hoberg said...

I have been called every 3 years for 30 years but never seated. Got close once and was actually in the jury box and was dismissed. The rest of the times have been fighting rush hour traffic to get to the court house, then watching the same film about jury duty, then sitting and more sitting until they dismiss you. Usually after noon. In our state they don't send you to your the closes court house but to a neighboring one in hopes you haven't heard about the cases.

Linda Hoberg said...

I have been called every 3 years for 30 years but never seated. Got close once and was actually in the jury box and was dismissed. The rest of the times have been fighting rush hour traffic to get to the court house, then watching the same film about jury duty, then sitting and more sitting until they dismiss you. Usually after noon. In our state they don't send you to your the closes court house but to a neighboring one in hopes you haven't heard about the cases.