Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen

I was called for jury duty yesterday, in the district court, civil division. One day or one trial. Sworn in to tell the truth. I swelled with civic pride and duty. Unlike most people, you see, I love jury duty. It's a good thing, too, because I must get called every year.
Of course, I wasn't actually chosen for the trial. I think the defense attorney would have wanted me on the case, but the plaintiff's attorney couldn't throw me off fast enough.

It was a medical malpractice case. Negligence on the part of the primary care doctor. The plaintiff had bladder cancer. I could see, by the questioning, where this was going. So I answered those questions as honestly as I could. Even those questions that were unasked, but implied.

I was potential juror number 14, which meant that I got to listen to a lot of answers to the same questions before they got to me. The question was "What do you think about cigarette smoking?" Most of the other jurors answered that they didn't like it. Or that it was a nasty habit. One or two people said they smoked. I said that it was a matter of personal choice, but one that carries with it personal responsibility.

Danger. Warning. This person thinks. Whoop, whoop, whoop.

They asked us if we would be capable of judging a doctor, of holding one accountable. I said yes. I did NOT say that I'd be even more capable of holding lawyers accountable.

They asked how we felt about large money awards. Most people said, of course, if they're called for. I said: "I'm ambivalent." GAH!!! That juror used a multi-sylable word. Danger! Warning!

Could you elaborate? I could, and I did. Pain and suffering are pretty subjective things, no? Sometimes there is merit in the claim, but there are a lot of frivolous lawsuits in this world.

Have we ever had a problem with a doctor? Yes. Elaborate. I did. But then, I allowed as how I was very young and naive, and never sought a second opinion. By the time I did, years later, for what the first doctor claimed was a relapse, there was no sign of the condition the first doctor wanted to do surgery on, nor was there any sign that I'd ever had the condition. I fired the first doctor. I never looked back. And (although I didn't say this)neither did I sue.

What about cancer? Family members? Yes. And close friends. By the time I'd finished my list, the whole room looked a little dazed. Uh, OK, so this is something you might have strong feelings about?

One attorney asked about Monday morning quarterbacking. The young man to my left didn't understand the term, nor had he ever heard of 20/20 hindsight. The lawyer explained the concept and then turned to me... And you? Can you look at the facts and not be a Monday morning quarterback? I snorted, C'mon, anyone who's been a Dolphin fan as long as me knows the futility of that exercise. The room cracked up.

Good. Leave 'em laughing. We were interrogated a little more, and then the lawyers settled in to pick the jury. It came as no surprise to me that I was not selected.

When they say a jury of your peers, what they mean is, someone who has no opinion and never reads the paper.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 11:31 AM in Yellow Dog Politics

(3) Comments
#1. Posted by Becca on November 16, 2004

I watch re-runs of “Law & Order” all the time, and the ADAs are always saying things like, “The jury will be able to see through this crackpot defense…”  Yada, yada, yada.  Cracks me up every time—I just want to say, “Remember O.J.?!?!”

And then there’s the recent Scott Peterson trial.  Seems to me that the bastard is probably guilty, but I got the impression that the State might not have done a great job proving its case, i.e. there was plenty of room for “reasonable doubt”.  However, the jury voted to convict.  I think they did so based on their gut and/or what they wanted to believe to be true—just like the jury did with O.J.  The Peterson jury convicted based on substantial (but not damning) evidence, while O.J.‘s jury acquitted in the face of CLEARLY damning evidence.  Go figure.

One of the first things I did after moving from NC to GA in June was register to vote.  I told a co-worker that I registered, and he said, “Ha, now you’ll get called for jury duty!”  I was like, “I hope I do—and if I’m ever on trial, I hope my jury has at least one person like me!”  (i.e. Someone who actually likes to think.)  Based on your recent experience, sounds like that probably happens far too infrequently…

#2. Posted by Miss Bliss on November 16, 2004

I just got a Jury Notice in the mail yesterday.  I gotta get it postponed….I don’t get paid for Jury time and I have to get enough vacation time earned so I can actually afford to possibly sit on a Jury for five days…if it’s more than that I’ll have to apply for welfare.

#3. Posted by RJ on November 17, 2004

MJ (the husband) had a similar experience a number of years ago.  When he told them that he is a writer in response to the question: What do you do? They wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole.  He was called again about a year later, and this time he told them that he’s a shipping clerk (something he did some years before, so it wasn’t a LIE), they snapped him right up.

Of course, they won’t go near me—especially since the last time I went, the defense attorney had me do a soliloquy(sp?) on the concept of “guilty until proven innocent.”  And in federal court, I know almost everybody….

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

<< Back to main