A Different Kind of Civil Right Discussion

I have jury duty today. I seem to get summoned quite often but never get chosen to sit on one. I would totally love to sit on a jury. Being a lawyer for more of my life than not, I am super curious about the true inner workings of the group of folks in that room. I always show up for my day on the venire and I stay until they tell me to go home.

This is Martin Luther King, Jr. week and he fought for civil rights for the people of his race but I’ve also been a victim of a violation of my civil rights. There was one occasion that I was in jury selection and I knew I was on the jury unless I was stricken.  There is a secret about jury selection here in my town that being an insider and someone who has picked many a jury, I know and I KNEW I was on that jury. There was no way I wasn’t unless one of the lawyers struck me for cause or used me as one of their free strikes.

When the final jury was chosen, I wasn’t on it. I knew both the prosecutor and the defense lawyer and I knew one or the other could have struck me merely because I’m a lawyer, too and sometimes, they prefer non-lawyers on the jury. There’s a lot of science and gut feeling in chosing the right people for your panel.

So, about two weeks after that, I saw one of the lawyers and asked him who struck me as I was curious. He said they both wanted me on the jury. They both fought to have me on there. He wanted me as I did defense work and the other guy wanted me because we’d gone up against each other before and he knew I knew the law. The judge struck me. The judge told them they couldn’t have me on their jury. That really made my blood boil. I’m not a convicted felon and I have the civil right to serve on a jury. So, this judge violated my civil rights.

Did I confront him? No. He was the chief judge and I’m not a dummy. I didn’t want to make an enemy out of him and I know that would’ve been the result of a confrontation. He’s now retired so we’ll see if I get picked today. Wish me luck!

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The author of these blog posts is a lawyer by day and fiction writer by night.
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18 Responses to A Different Kind of Civil Right Discussion

  1. Lsprout says:

    I am wishing you luck. But — I have called a number of times too. Usually I don’t even have to go in and once it was cancelled after I got there. The one I did serve on was a murder one and I hope the last one like that. It was really an emotional experience. A family was killed. Mom/Dad/ and five year old little boy. The pictures they showed the jury … its been a number of years but I doubt if I’ll ever forget.

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  2. danicaavet says:

    Hm, most people dread being called for jury duty. I’m one of them. I’ve been called three times and each time I cringe (which probably means I’ll be receiving a summons soon the way my luck goes). I find it funny you want to be on the jury, but I also know you want to do it because your active mind wants to see what it’s like. That’s cool. Sooo…good luck? 😉

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  3. jeff7salter says:

    I’ve been called twice but only served once … in federal court (for a case by the EPA against an accused polluter). We served for 3 full days, as I recall and then the case was terminated in a mistrial because of some minor — at least minor to me — techicality about admission of facts which the judge had ruled inadmissible. As a juror, that bit of info made NO difference in the flow of what had already been presented in evidence and testimony. I felt very let down by ending the case in that way. I also felt like it was a huge waste of time and tax money because they were going to re-try that guy on the same charges with the same witnesses … and a diff. jury who, presumably, woud NOT hear that tidbit which had been ruled inadmissible.

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    • All that would have happened was the person who didn’t want it in would have appealed and they would’ve been right back there anyway. So, saving of court resources would require a mistrial. Sorry it happened to you. I’m still in the pool room. So far, my name hasn’t been called.

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  4. Laurie Ryan says:

    Oh, man! I want to get called to jury duty SO BAD! It’s a family joke because only once have I ever even gotten a summons. It was last summer and had a note saying I would need to be able to clear my calendar for at least 4 months. I was UBER-excited. FINALLY, my moment had come. I waited for the appointed time to call and the recording said my group was released and didn’t need to show up. Hmph! All these years of waiting to get summoned and I didn’t even get to show up at court.
    I’m pulling for you. But am also hoping I get the opportunity to see this process. 🙂 Good luck!

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  5. Lindsay says:

    I’ve only been called once for duty and it was during the selection for a major case. I was lucky not to have been selected to be one of the potential jurors since I knew things about the case that weren’t in the paper but had learned from a friend of mine whose husband was one of the police officers involved in the case.

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    • OOh that is a good thing. They were picking for a huge case today here- a shooting of an officer- but I was not on that pool. I got released because we had no lunch or I would have been back in the room for that.

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  6. Micki Gibson says:

    I’ve only been summoned when I’ve been teaching. So I bust my butt to get subs arranged, lessons planned, and call (as instructed) after 5 pm the night before only to get a recording that nope, I’m not needed. Repeat for the rest of the week. Kind of annoying, but yes, I do have a curious streak about the inner workings of a jury.

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  7. Laurie Ryan says:

    Ahhhh! I was hoping you’d get picked.

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  8. I juat read your post and was going to ask if you got picked?! but by laurie’s remark, i guess you didn’t.

    JH!

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  9. BTW Did you find out why the judge struck you?

    JH!

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