Can We End Jury Duty?

21 May

Is He Deciding Your Fate?

A man will be arraigned on contempt charges for skipping out of jury duty during a lunch break.  He  cited boredom as his reason for leaving.  While this was extremely stupid, I do sympathize with his plight.  The process of jury selection is a tedious ordeal that I am familiar with.  I took it upon myself to both offend a judge and make an entire courtroom, including the defendant, laugh out loud in an attempt to avoid being selected.  Needless to say I was dismissed promptly from the manslaughter case.  These light hearted stories provoke a serious question.  Do jury’s of average citizens really equal justice?  Innocent people have been sentenced to prison terms based on the judgment of random strangers.  Would a false conviction be any more unjust if it came from a professional jury?

People are busy and few want to go through the headache of dealing with a jury trial.  An even greater number of individuals are insufficiently educated to properly judge a case involving complex arguments and conflicting scientific evidence.  The idea of being tried by a jury of your peers has been deeply ingrained into our society, but that’s not exactly what the constitution says.  The 6th Amendment states, “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed”  There is no requirement that the jury be made up of average folks off the street.  The only requirement is that it be an impartial jury made up of people from the district wherein the crime was committed.  Why not make sure that jury is comprised of well paid people who are actually able to fairly judge a case based on the evidence?

This seems foreign and unnatural to many.  It may in fact provoke a response of both disgust & simultaneous dismissal.  Any attempt to change the jury system, which has become iconic in many respects via Hollywood, would likely be meant with strong resistance.  The initial intuitive resistance does not mean that this isn’t a debate worth having.  It’s a complex issue with many factors to consider, but it’s become an increasingly necessary debate given the available jury pool.

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7 Responses to “Can We End Jury Duty?”

  1. thiscantwaite May 21, 2009 at 9:11 AM #

    Interesting. I’ve never thought about professional juries. I’ll have to give it somet thought. I’d enjoy serving on a jury, but if I got called I’d be screwed. Like most productive citizens I don’t know how I’d cover for my other obligations. Unlike many, I understand that is MY problem.

    Maybe people collecting unemployment should get bumped up to the top of the list. Maybe not. Thinking…

  2. domesticdame May 21, 2009 at 9:41 AM #

    Most people feel that jury duty is an inconvenience, you know $5 doesn’t cover the costs of one putting their job on hiatus, & then their kids’ welfare. I bet that if the ‘pay’ was significantly higher there would be people clamoring for jury duty.

    Like ThisCantWaite, I’d be put in a bind because I have one kiddo that needs me. (she has 2, but you all get the idea)If I did find someone to watch her, I would definitely go to jury duty but would kick out because I am an imparial person. I have been kicked out of 4 jury duties so far….& that was before I got married & had my cranky kids.

    Now, jury duty is a pain, because the county summons me every two years & I have to go through the motions to tell them that I can’t do it because of my child. It’s stressful! I also think that even if the county would pay me a $100.00 a day I wouldn’t want to do it. Our thugs are pretty evil in my town.

  3. tosstsalad May 21, 2009 at 7:06 PM #

    Sorry. But, in my defense, I thought the red lingerie would bring out the highlights in my hair.

    In 18 years, I’ve only received a jury summons twice. The first time they never called my number up so I didn’t even make it out of the lobby. The second time (about a year and a half ago), I got called in to be interviewed. I sat down in the audience area, pissed that I “was wasting my time” (I was reacting the way I thought I was supposed to). Well, as I sat there amazed at the parade of idiocy presented by the 30+ interviews ahead of me, my attitude completely reversed. I was excited to be part of this process. I realized that I had to do everything I could to get on that jury because what I saw in front of me made Pauly Shore look like Juror #8.

    The 12 jurors plus 2 alternates were selected before my name was called. So, I went home and watched tv.

    • stickeenotes May 21, 2009 at 8:57 PM #

      Pish posh. You looked stunning. I blame the dreary color of the automobile. If it was black it would have really made the red pop. By the way, did you ever find your penis after that car drove away? The people in modern jury pools do make a person question if being judged by your peers really is the best idea.

  4. Sweet May 21, 2009 at 9:45 PM #

    I’ve been called for jury duty twice, the first time, we were sent home before we were even interviewed

    The second time, I had to serve–unfortunately, the person sitting next to me, and, the last to be interviewed before me, was a policeman…we were on a case involving a fatal car accident, he was dismissed.

    We went through five days of deliberation, and, on the last day…the two sides settled, so, all of that time and effort seemed wasted.

    Not sure if I’d have felt better about it if I’d been remunerated in a more lucrative way.

  5. Gaines May 21, 2009 at 10:13 PM #

    My experience tells me that those on the jury are not any smarter than those which commit the crimes…

    Maybe this is true justice…

  6. Ling Carter May 23, 2009 at 4:43 PM #

    For years in Los Angeles, the jury pool consisted almost entirely of postal employees. They were pretty much the only ones paid for being there and loved it. So, in a sense, there was something like a professional jury.

    But eventually, they all quarreled and shot each other, but not before freeing OJ.

    Now we’re back to square one.

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