05 February 2008

Democracy Now

Freedom is not only "not free" it is also exhausing.

Kids, I am Fill-it-to-the-Rim-with-Brim full of the democratic process today.

Holy crap. Between two days of jury duty (not picked - see dodge ball reference in last week's post) and fighting my way to the polls to vote this fine Super Tuesday, I imagine this is what Betsy Ross felt like after staying up all night sewing that gi-normous flag.

That is to say, I am flat worn out.

So jury duty was interesting. More accurately, participating in the process of eliminating jurors was interesting.

It seems there are a whole passel of hardened criminals in North Alabama - a half dozen criminal trial juries were struck from the pool I was a part of.

And you know what? I really would not have minded participating on a jury, but it wasn't meant to be.

I guess I know too much about the legal process. Having worked for trial lawyers while in college, and with several members my family (including an ex-husband) in law enforcement, I have watched too closely how judicial sausage is made - and it definitely worked against me today.

So gather 'round, kids. If you want to know how to get out of jury duty I can tell you because I 'accomplished' it without even trying.

Scenario: A guy is charged with having committed a crime. There are two eye-witnesses for the DA (prosecution) sitting right in front of you waiting to testify against him. A grand jury (composed of his peers) has already decided there is enough evidence against this guy to spend state money to bring him to trial. The defendant has plead the fifth and his legal counsel has a reputation for being the lowest legal low-life in town.

Then the question is asked, "Does anyone here believe that just because this man sits before you, accused, he must be guilty of something?"

Well, hell yes, I believe that.

"Thank you for your honesty, Ms. City Girl." Strike.

Now, they'd asked that same question in each of the preceding question-and-answer sessions and I never felt that I'd already decided the person was guilty. But this time I did and it absolutely would not have been fair to him if I'd been on his jury. I am not his peer. I am not worthy to be his peer because I judged him the minute I took in all the circumstantial evidence. I had a gut reaction and against better judgement I listened to my gut.

There's your loop hole: Each and every time a new set of prosecutors and defense attorneys comes into the room to cherry-pick jurors from the unwashed (believe me) masses, they ask, "Do you think he is guilty just because he sits before you today?"

If you really and truly want to get out of jury duty - which actually is pointless if you live in a small town because most trials only last one day - tell them you can't be fair. They'll put a big, scarlet "A" on your chest, let you sit there for two days and eventually give you a check and send you packing.
BTW - Jury duty pays approximately $2/hour. Only the government could get away with that. Sure, to retirees and salaried workers it is a civic duty, but to the guy who doesn't get paid if he doesn't show up at work - regardless of the reason - it means his kids eat beans and cornbread for a week. I'd imagine civic pride is easily drowned out by a grumbling stomach.

Seriously.

4 comments:

Country Girl said...

So you sat there for two days for $30? Gives new meaning to that thing...who said this? "...something or something by twelve people too dumb to get out of jury duty."? See, you didn't even know how smart you ARE!

Tom said...

Not me man, I walk in there and start spouting about how stupid the guy must be if he got caught.

Obviously he has to be guilty if he's there and doesn't he just look guilty? His eyes are too close together and his hair's too long. And, and, and his nose is waaaay too long. Everybody knows that a guy with a nose of that length is a criminal. Duh.

Done. No more Jury duty. The only easier way is to start running on about the Jewish conspiracy and the Mexicans taking over the world. Even in Huntville, that don't play to the legal community.

Cometgirl said...

The OJ jurors were asked if they kept up with current events, i.e. read a newspaper or watched the news. The ones picked for his trial were either a. stupid or b.liars. Outcome? If the glove don't fit, you must acquit! I think I'll ask OJ how that's working out for him. Oh, wait! He's being prosecuted again!
Congrats on being too smart to serve.

Dory said...

And... AND... reservists make a little over $100 for two full days of service to their country. Which is not even minimum wage. It's shameful.

Ok, BTW, to be fair that was in 1992 when I was a reservist in Jackson, MI and it was actually above minimum wage. By the skin of its teeth.

Still.