October 28, 2015

Jury selection dismissal

Today I was the first juror dismissed (by the prosecution) from an initial selection of 18 jurors.

This was my third time participating in a jury selection and the first time I've actually been selected, questioned, and dismissed.

This was a criminal DUI case that would probably have lasted two to three days.  Talking to some other jurors who were initially dismissed I was the only one who was actually interested serving.  I thought it would be informative to see the criminal justice system working.  I also thought I could do a good job on the jury, judging the evidence in accordance with the law.

There were many jurors who in answering questions made it clear that they felt they would not be able to apply the standards of the law.  For example, one juror said they couldn't understand why someone would refuse to take a breathalyzer test when it could so easily "prove their innocence" and that this refusal would bias their judgement.

During the juror selection process, some of the questions that came up and that I replied to were:
  • The defense asked a long winded, hypothetical question that essentially amounted to asking if we could follow direction.  I pointed this out and indicated the judge had already asked this and I had already answered in the affirmative.
  • The defense asked if, in the case that the defendant declined to testify on their own behalf, would bias our judgement in the case.  I replied that it was the prosecution's burden to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and lack of testimony from the defendant would not affect that burden of proof.
  • The prosecution asked if anyone would have problems accepting the testimony of a trained police officer.  I replied that any officer’s testimony would need to be judged equally with all the other testimony, taking into account any instructions from the judge and in the context of the law as explained by the judge.
Given the number of jurors trying to get themselves excused, and the fact that I thought I could do a good job as a juror in this case, I mistakenly thought I had a pretty good chance of being selected.  Just before they started with dismissals the woman next to me in the jury box leaned over and told me we were both out.  She was an auto-insurance claims investigator and said we were both "far too logical" to stay.  She was the second person dismissed.  IMO neither of us had given any indication that we would have any problems serving fairly in this case.

So as future reference note, should I find myself in jury selection for a case where I'd actually like to serve, I should keep my responses as curt as possible and avoid nodding or speaking up unless directly spoken to.  Also, if I find myself in jury selection for a case in which I don't want to serve, I should just be myself.

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