Your other chin
In: Uncategorized12 Sep 2009
I spent this entire week in court on a jury panel. It was my first time serving in a jury and I really enjoyed it. The whole process has really convinced me [more than before] of the fairness of our system.
For our case, they brought in about 40 potential jurors and had us introduce ourselves. After telling us the type of case it would be, the judge asked a bunch of questions like if we’ve been on a jury before and if we have any special circumstances that would make it hard to serve on a jury. Some time later, the judge released people who were clearly biased or legitimately could not be there. I think that process was very fair to those who had special circumstances.
Following that, the lawyers asked us a bunch of questions, sometimes picking on people to answer. After that was done, the lawyers had seven chances each to remove jurors from the panel that they felt would be unfairly biased, non-objective, emotional, or otherwise not helpful to the case. This is actually a really good system because the jurors that remain on the panel tend to be the most objective and fair. There were 12 remaining jurors with an alternate in case of emergency.
We listened to the case. The victim didn’t testify, but a first-hand witness did. What he said would end up causing us lot of discussion during deliberations.
We spent all day Friday deliberating (9am-3pm). We found out later that this was a long time for this sort of case. When we started, we took a poll of where everybody stood on the issue and we were pretty much evenly divided between guilty and not guilty.
I thought it was interesting that at the beginning, the three jurors who were most certain that the defendant was guilty were the oldest (in the 40′s and 50′s) and that the three jurors who were convinced that there was enough doubt to judge not guilty were the youngest in the room (20-25 years old). In the end, we unanimously decided that the defendant was guilty. It would be interesting to me to find out why the initial opinions were like that, whether it’s that the older people were wiser, opinionated on the issue, influenced by generational views, or something else.
I was happy with the jurors that were on the panel–they were all very rational, logical, and open-minded. Each juror was very fair and seemed to truly want to make the most correct decision. Which was only possible because of the way our court system is set up.
Anyways, we spent a long time debating the credibility of witnesses and their statements and how much weight each piece of evidence has. Like I said, we reached a guilty verdict. I feel that each juror is convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that he is guilty.
After the trial was over, we had the chance to talk with and ask questions of the judge and the lawyers. They were all very eager to talk with us and explain why they did certain things and chose to keep or remove particular jurors. Now I know exactly what to say and do to be excused from jury duty. But I’m not going to list them here–I think ethically, you shouldn’t do anything just to escape your responsibility as a US citizen. Besides, I’m sure you could easily just Google it.
I’ve gained a lot of insights from this whole experience. I’m now more confident in the justice of our legal system. I’m also happy that there are such good people who want the most fair judgments.
I'm Jon Chin. I love technology, food, and learning. I served a mission in the Philippines and loved it. You probably can't type on my keyboard because I don't have qwerty installed--I use Colemak. I'm obsessed with learning about North Korea and abandoned anything.