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eJuror Will Lead To New List of Jury Duty Excuses

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the bringing-the-wisdom-of-youtube-commenters-to-federal-justice dept.

The Courts 191

coondoggie writes "Now you can say your jury duty request got lost in the cloud, or that the network was down, or the Internet ate it. That's because the US District Court system is close to completing a rollout of its national eJuror system that lets prospective jurors have the option of responding to their jury questionnaire or summons online. About 80 of the 94 US district courts have had the eJuror software installed and more than half of those courts are already live on the system."

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Gotta say... (1)

woboyle (1044168) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284492)

My spam filter ate it!

I'm all for it, (2, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284524)

Saves me the trouble of getting my Jedi robes out of the attic so I can be kicked off the jury in person.

Re:I'm all for it, (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284594)

At least you are not putting on a full body Furry suit. That thing gets hot sometimes

Re:I'm all for it, (3, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284666)

It's a Yoda Jedi costume.

And yes, hot it gets.

Re:I'm all for it, (5, Insightful)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284718)

I hope you, and others that "dodge" jury duty, get into legal trouble soon!

So you too can be judged by the "unfortunate ones" of the world that weren't "smart enough" to get out of jury duty. You know, the illiterate morons that end up finding the innocent guilty, and the guilty innocent...

Why do you feel it's ok to take an essential part of the civic infrastructure for granted?

Re:I'm all for it, (3, Insightful)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284830)

Maybe because it costs some of us hundreds or thousands of dollars per day we're not able to work? Because they hold court during hours most people are working? Because they have so many stupid nonsensical rules that they use more juries than they should to prosecute people in the course of "protecting people from themselves?"

Some people don't like wasting their time with the joke.

Re:I'm all for it, (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284844)

It's a "joke" because good people don't serve, not because the process is bad...

Money is, in my opinion, the poorest excuse...

Re:I'm all for it, (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284930)

Money is, in my opinion, the poorest excuse...

Ya that $5 a day they hand out is sure going to feed a family. The court used to compensate people for their lost income, but that was when $5 a day was a good compensation.

And before you really bitch and moan about people having to make a living, how I should have god knows how many weeks and months of money saved up, I can't serve on juries, I'm ineligible.

Re:I'm all for it, (2, Funny)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285012)

What would you do if you were fired? Or your company closed its doors?

Re:I'm all for it, (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285030)

Wait for the Government to save him?

Re:I'm all for it, (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285126)

Sounds probable.
I bet he bitches about paying taxes too.

Re:I'm all for it, (1)

WestCoastBogeyMan (927316) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285374)

If my employer will pay me my full salary while I'm serving (and some employers do) then I'm good. But, sit me on a jury and stop paying me for more than a week and I've got bills that won't get paid - like a mortgage. Things would have been ok until my wife was out of work for 6 months and our savings went bye-bye.

Re:I'm all for it, (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284936)

Wow, what a nice summary of contemporary America. "I want everything set up perfectly to maximize my rights and my productivity, and I shouldn't have to pay or sacrifice anything for it because it's all thanks to me and nobody else!"

Re:I'm all for it, (0, Offtopic)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285286)

I'm sorry you were modded flamebait. Your post, while perhaps sarcastic, is fantastic.

Re:I'm all for it, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284854)

Because being pulled off of my paying gig for an indefinite length of time in exchange for $10 a day would quickly bankrupt me. Jury duty is worse than unemployment. If the state wants my time, they can pay the same rate that my clients do, or they can go to hell.

Re:I'm all for it, (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284900)

"indefinite length of time", really?

If you're so bad with managing your money that a few days out of work would bankrupt you, I wouldn't want you on a jury anyway...

Re:I'm all for it, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285074)

Yes, indefinite is the right word. When they can guarantee that all jury trials last only a few days, I'll stop describing it as indefinite. Many trials last for weeks or months, and guess what? When they summon you, you don't get to pick which trial you'll be on.

A few days wouldn't bankrupt me, but few months might. And regardless of how long my savings may or may not sustain me, it is still unjust for the government to drain them just because they drew my name from a hat. Trials cost money, and that money should come from the state's coffers, not mine.

Re:I'm all for it, (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285410)

I'm calling bull on your rhetoric:

Average daily juror pay: $22 (approximately 25 percent of daily per capita income), Average length of jury trial: five days for criminal trials, four days for civil trials, Average length of jury deliberations: four hours for both criminal and civil trials

Data is from 2009 [america.gov]

---

Step up and be an American!

Re:I'm all for it, (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284932)

Sounds like you need some money management advice, if you do not have a several months of income saved start saving now.

Best excuse ever (1)

toxonix (1793960) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284538)

I hate whites|blacks|latinos. Done, can I go back to work now?

Re:Best excuse ever (1)

altinos.com (919185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284890)

Why do you hate me?

Re:Best excuse ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284968)

Doesn't work anymore

Fully Informed Jury members (5, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284542)

If you think you're a fair person, being on a jury is not a bad thing.

Even better, being a fully informed member of a jury

http://fija.org/ [fija.org] --(Fully Informed Jury Association)

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284560)

As long as your employer pays your lost wages for missing who knows how many days on jury duty (depending on the trial if you even end up on one after all the sitting around waiting) ...

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (1)

Captain Murdock (906610) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284582)

I'm pretty sure they're legally obligated to do so.

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (5, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284610)

No they aren't, at least in my state. They have the option to pay you but it is not a requirement. One of the ways you can escape jury duty in NYS is if you can demonstrate that it would be a 'financial hardship' to serve.

My employer pays my full wage, minus the amount I receive from the court for serving. Seems fair enough to me. I'd do the same if I was an employer and had the financial resources. People should be encouraged to serve on juries -- it's your civic duty and provides an invaluable check against Governmental power.

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (1)

altinos.com (919185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284912)

They're legally obligated not to fire you.

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (0, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285022)

Why should they pay you when you are not working?
Take some vacation or go on unpaid leave. I applaud those that do, but really you should make sure you can survive without income for a few weeks or months.

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285132)

Maybe because jury duty is your responsibility as a citizen, and your company should respect that? I could live for a few months without being paid, but I shouldn't have to in order to fulfill a civic duty.

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (1, Flamebait)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285152)

So those of us that DO manage to have our safety cushion should burn it because we lose a lottery that gets us on some long, drawn-out trial?

No thanks. I'll keep it in reserve for a legitimate need, TYVM.

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285380)

You realize that you are already losing a few months worth of earnings to taxes right? Why are you complaining about Jury Duty but not the percentage of your income that you never even see because Uncle Sam compels your employer to send it directly to him?

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285590)

Why are you complaining about Jury Duty but not the percentage of your income that you never even see because Uncle Sam compels your employer to send it directly to him?

Because the former is actually on-topic?

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284958)

If you think you're a fair person, being on a jury is not a bad thing.

Even better, being a fully informed member of a jury

It's neither in the interest of the prosecution nor the defense to pick fair, fully informed jurors. They want folks who can be manipulated through testimony to sway to whatever verdict they want.

Re:Fully Informed Jury members (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285568)

It's neither in the interest of the prosecution nor the defense to pick fair, fully informed jurors. They want folks who can be manipulated through testimony to sway to whatever verdict they want.

Or who believe the judge when they lie to the jurors and tell them that if they believe that the defendant is guilty under the law that the judge gives them, they are required to return a 'guilty' verdict regardless of their opinion of the validity or proper application of the law. Which is why, if you don't want to get stuck on a jury, presenting for jury duty wearing a shirt or button with "FIJA" on it is virtually guaranteed to get you a peremptory challenge by the prosecuting attorney.

Why not just streamline the whole process? (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284568)

The Prosecutor and Defense both write out long documents outlining their cases, available on an audio file, which gets submitted to Jurors online and they get to view the case without any kind of prejudice (You don't know the sex/race/age of the alleged criminal or victim unless it is important to the crime at hand).

The bickering between the two will be just like any other internet forum, the judge is like a Moderator, and rather than a jury of a dozen peers or so, it can be done by any amount of volunteers from 4chan or by some Amazon Cloud support team or something.

I know I know, there's a lot of things wrong with doing it this way - but is it really any worse than the way its done already?

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284598)

Another Bright idea from the think-tank!

Why not have a relational database with pre-existing cases and their judgements - so that when presented with the facts of a case - and the jury's decision - it automatically knows which sentence to pick! No more of this "Celebrities get off easy/Joe Blow bankrupt for life" stuff!

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284662)

Good god, you get dumber every day.

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (1)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284744)

But don't you see, an expert system as you have described would do exactly what currently happens! Otherwise it'd be broken.

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284772)

Oh man, don't you know!

We don't use relational databases anymore. They don't scale [highscalability.com] /sarcasm

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284956)

Um, that's pretty much what happens before you get to trial.

The precedents are there, and the lawyers compare the case to them, and try to get the other side to settle based on the results of the case being used as a precedent, because if the precedent is correct the court is almost 100% certain to do exactly that.

It's not strictly a relational database. More like content-addressable memory.

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (2)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284612)

The Prosecutor and Defense both write out long documents outlining their cases, available on an audio file, which gets submitted to Jurors online and they get to view the case without any kind of prejudice (You don't know the sex/race/age of the alleged criminal or victim unless it is important to the crime at hand).

The bickering between the two will be just like any other internet forum, the judge is like a Moderator, and rather than a jury of a dozen peers or so, it can be done by any amount of volunteers from 4chan or by some Amazon Cloud support team or something.

I know I know, there's a lot of things wrong with doing it this way - but is it really any worse than the way its done already?

Oh god. A legal system ran by 4chan?

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284792)

Yes.

Do they send out Nobel Prizes by mail? I know its the best idea ever, but I'm a little busy arguing on the internet so I won't have time to pick it up myself.

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284962)

We find the defendant guilty, and sentenced to either showing tits, or getting TFO.

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (2, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285154)

"...In closing, while we do acknowledge that Anonymous does not forgive, we want the record to show that my client did it for the lulz. The defense rests."

Verdict: Innocent, but all lawyers in the room get sent to death row. kthxbai.

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284624)

but is it really any worse than the way its done already?

Yes. It cuts out the ability to look witnesses and the defendant in the eye. Non-verbal communication is important, particularly when someone's liberty is on the line.

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284926)

This cuts both ways. In some^H^H^H^Hmany cases, the defendant would get a more fair trial if not seen by prejudiced jurors.

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284642)

Magic 8 ball is probably better than either the current system, or what you have proposed!

Re:Why not just streamline the whole process? (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284870)

First, because the system is based on history, not logic. It was invented before logic was, and it has to complete its task even in a total absence of logic. If the lawyers choose to introduce logic, then that's their strategic choice. Generally one will, and the other won't.

Second, because the trial changes as it goes on, and argument is fluid. Information from one part of one person's testimony can drastically alter how other witnesses testify, and whether they even do testify.

Third, because questioning witnesses elicits more honest responses than prepared statements do, and watching someone answer a tough question elicits more information than the words in the answer gives.

Fourth, because part of the purpose of the trial is presenting the case to the community. Both to give the community closure and to keep the government's pointy end open to scrutiny. Merely adjudicating the facts of the case is something any king can do from the bathroom.

BBC reports that internet will kill jury system (2, Interesting)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284596)

Top judge says internet 'could kill jury system'
The jury system may not survive if it is undermined by social networking sites, England's top judge has said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11796648 [bbc.co.uk]

Jury selection (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284618)

First: For those of you who think avoiding jury duty is an option rather than a duty -- thanks for avoiding one of the simplest and most basic requests that our country makes of you in exchange for citizenship. You must be proud.

Second: If the request gets lost, it gets lost. It doesn't matter whether it's eaten by a computer, an angry mail processing machine, or the dog. Lost is lost. You'll get another summons.

Re:Jury selection (1, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284908)

I don't avoid the jury duty. I just know that I'm never going to be chosen because of my views and my knowledge on a broad range of topics would keep the BS from either Liar .. er Lawyer out of the deliberations.

Re:Jury selection (3, Interesting)

uprise78 (1256084) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285066)

The 35% income tax plus the 8.5% sales tax I pay are more than enough of a sacrifice to pay in "exchange for citizenship". Having to on top of that take unpaid days off is ludicrous. I might as well just hand my while fucking life over to big brother.

Re:Jury selection (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285098)

Feel free to leave or vote for other candidates. You do not have a right to shirk your civic duties.

Re:Jury selection (2, Interesting)

nasalicio (122665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285322)

No, but you have a human birth right of free will. No one can force you to do anything against your will. Obviously there can and/or will be penalties for exercising your right of free will at times, but thats a choice some people are willing to take in some areas.

Re:Jury selection (2, Interesting)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285114)

My wife was summoned for Jury duty. The date for appearance was approximately 1 week prior to our first child being due. We quickly asked for her to be excused on the grounds that she'd be as likely as not giving birth in the court room. (Turns out the child was 6 days early, so labour would have started during any jury questioning.)

I got a summons for jury duty that asked me to appear about 3 weeks later. I don't think the ink was dry on our request for my wife to be excused before this one was on its way. Seriously - they wanted to drag both adults in a house into jury duty pretty much simultaneously? I asked to be excused on the grounds that I was the only driver in a house that would have a 2-3-week-old baby in it, which would cause my wife and our child undue hardship.

If I could have gone, I would have. But not for your high-and-mighty reasons. More to get an up-close-and-personal experience of why the court system is a joke. I doubt I would have made it to trial, assuming that the case involved actually got to trial, merely due to my cynicism. One of the lawyers would likely have asked me to leave before the trial started.

Re:Jury selection (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285440)

one of the simplest and most basic requests that our country makes of you in exchange for citizenship

Except it's not. It should be. In my jurisdiction, you have to sit through an hour-long video that eviscerates nearly every juror protection and right set forth in the past 200+ years, agree to that, and to follow all orders the judge gives, and then you can be seated on a jury. Even worse, if you know anything about the case or the person you're supposed to volunteer that information and be excused from the case.

That's not how it's supposed to work - it's a mockery of a once-just system.

Re:Jury selection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285492)

Unfortunately, if you listen to the instructions set forth by the judge, my ability to think and reason goes beyond that instruction, thus making my presence as a juror ineligible.

Simple fact is I know to ask more questions than what is likely to be displayed in the trial, as well as the possibility of jury nullification.

Despite my previous success' in removing myself from jury duty, I've decided to accept being on it, and vetting the court to the standards to which I think it should operate. Albeit, from the jury box.

My answer ... (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284692)

I'm a Libertarian who believes in Jury Nullification. I also believe that as a jury member I can ask questions of witnesses beyond the questions directed by either side, and I won't hesitate to raise my hand to ask questions neither side is willing to ask to get at the truth neither side is really after.

If we're bound by the idea that if it is a "law" that it is legal, then we end up with the Senator Palpatine style "I will make it legal"

Re:My answer ... (4, Interesting)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284742)

I'm a Libertarian who believes in Jury Nullification. I also believe that as a jury member I can ask questions of witnesses beyond the questions directed by either side, and I won't hesitate to raise my hand to ask questions neither side is willing to ask to get at the truth neither side is really after.

Actually, there's a gradual movement where states are slowly allowing jurors to ask questions. I think eventually this will spread to all states.

Now you don't get to raise your hand and blurt it out mid-testimony. Questions are submitted to the judge in writing, reviewed, and passed on to both sides if appropriate...

Re:My answer ... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285096)

Actually, there's a gradual movement where states are slowly allowing jurors to ask questions. I think eventually this will spread to all states.

Now you don't get to raise your hand and blurt it out mid-testimony. Questions are submitted to the judge in writing, reviewed, and passed on to both sides if appropriate...

Every once in a while, I read something on Slashdot that restores my faith in humanity. Letting jurors submit questions to the judge is something that is long overdue:

Juror #4: "So, Mr. John Wilkes Booth, the police found you slicing off pieces of flesh of the victim, with a bloody knife, and then eating them. Do you have an explanation for this?"

Juror #9: "Mother Theresa, you seem to have trouble just walking into the jury box, can you please explain, as the prosecution asserts, how you punched Michael Tyson to death?"

Arizona does this (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285138)

If the jury has a question they hand it to the clerk, and the judge gets to decide if it gets asked. Works well in that it maintains the order of a court room (a court isn't supposed to be something where anything goes) and protects the defendant's rights and so on, but lets the jury get relevant information that they have an interest in.

Re:My answer ... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284880)

I'm a Libertarian who believes in Jury Nullification.

So am I, hence the reason why neither of us will ever serve on a jury, unless we lie or the lawyers are too stupid to ask the "right" questions.

I also believe that as a jury member I can ask questions of witnesses beyond the questions directed by either side

Grand Jurors can. I had to field several questions from the Grand Jurors when I testified. Hasn't really filtered down to Petit Jurors yet though.

Re:My answer ... (1)

flink (18449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285484)

So am I, hence the reason why neither of us will ever serve on a jury, unless we lie or the lawyers are too stupid to ask the "right" questions.

I've served as a juror in two criminal trials. At neither was I asked anything beyond a rote set of questions as to whether I knew anyone on the witness list, did I have a prejudice that would affect my judgment, etc. Most trials are routine enough that selection isn't a huge issue. If you refrain from spouting some libertarian manifesto, then chances are good that if you are selected you will serve.

Personally, I found both experiences pretty interesting.

Re:My answer ... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284916)

BTW, not to reply twice, but would you have pushed for nullification if you were on this jury [reason.com] ? I would have -- that case cries out for jury nullification.

I love the sheep that served on that jury. "Even the jurors who convicted him seem to have been looking for a reason to acquit him. But the judge gave them little choice" Uhh, yeah, you HAD a choice. Nobody can FORCE you to vote for conviction. Mindless fucking sheep that did whatever the DA and Judge wanted them to. What the hell is the point? 12 people on that Jury and not a single one of them knew about nullification or had even bothered to read a civics textbook in school? Depressing.

Re:My answer ... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285166)

Yeah, they're mindless fucking sheep because they were never informed about what juries are. Why would someone mindful automatically know that, no, unlike what the judge said, you can vote to acquit if you feel that serves justice, that you never have to explain your vote, and that you cannot be prosecuted for such a vote? If you haven't studied the history of the jury, you wouldn't know this, and as far as you'd know, doing anything but judging the facts would land you in jail. But no, according to you, that's being a sheep. It's attitudes like yours that continue people being uninformed, because you write them off as being sheep rather than potential students as to what a jury is really for.

Re:My answer ... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285244)

Yeah, they're mindless fucking sheep because they were never informed about what juries are

Yes, they are mindless fucking sheep if they are relying on someone else to educate them. We have books, libraries and the internet for a reason. If you were about to assume the responsibility of deciding if someone should lose his freedom wouldn't you take the time to educate yourself a bit? Hell, did any of them pay attention in civics class even? Jury nullification predates this Republic and I recall learning about it while studying the American revolution.

Re:My answer ... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285588)

Wow, I concede to your good points, particularly educating oneself before serving.

Re:My answer ... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285182)

Violation of 2nd Amendment, not guilty.

Re:My answer ... (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285184)

This part is interesting:

Yet Judge Morley wouldn't allow Aitken to claim the exemption for transporting guns between residences. He wouldn't even let the jury know about it. During deliberations, the jurors asked three times about exceptions to the law, which suggests they weren't comfortable convicting Aitken. Morley refused to answer them all three times. Gilbert and Nappen, Aitken's lawyers, say he also should have been protected by a federal law that forbids states from prosecuting gun owners who are transporting guns between residences. Morley would not let Aitken cite that provision either.

Kind of hard to be a juror when you don't have all the facts, isn't it?

Re:My answer ... (1)

Nukenbar (215420) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285034)

That's why, as a former prosecutor, you would have never making it onto my jury.

Re:My answer ... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285300)

Yup. I know. My point exactly.

Also, it isn't "your jury". :-)

Re:My answer ... (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285508)

Bzzt, wrong

It is his jury, he has at least a 50% stake in picking it...

Re:My answer ... (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285064)

>If we're bound by the idea that if it is a "law" that it is legal, then we end up with the Senator Palpatine style "I will make it legal"

The law was made by representatives elected by the people. Until the constitution says there's a Senator Palpatine who has the power to make something legal on his own, that's not a good analogy.

Juries are bound to follow the law. They get to decide if the facts in the case fit the law. They don't get to decide not to convict even though the facts fit the law. Their value is that they are citizens, not sinecured magistrates who have the physical power to write down that the facts fit the case when they don't, or to color the facts in a way that a dozen average people would find untrue. The jury system guarantees that at least 12 citizens will be witnesses to the trial, are the focus of the presentation of evidence, and will validate its outcome as a true application of the law.

If you think the law is wrong, it's your job to get it changed before it gets to court by electing people who represent you and petitioning them for changes to the law. It's the court's job to apply it as it's written (in a statute or a past judgment), and it's an apellate courts' job to deal with situations where one of the parties to the case thinks the process did not get followed properly or the law inappropriately conflicts with another law (up to and including the constitution).

Re:My answer ... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285156)

They don't get to decide not to convict even though the facts fit the law.

Yes they do. It's called jury nullification. Pretending that it doesn't exist will not change the fact that it does. Even if you outlaw nullification you will not be able to stop it -- jury deliberations are secret and they do not need to provide any explanation for why their decision.

Re:My answer ... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285626)

While it's not possible to stop it, it's also an unethical abuse of the power of the jury, and the court system assiduously warns against it. The reason being that it goes both ways, since juries that ignore the law can nullify the rights of the defendant as easily as they can nullify the law.

And, while jury deliberations are nominally secret the first thing that happens after a trial is that the jury, the judge, and the counsel for both sides get together to informally discuss the conduct of the trial. Jurors ask questions about missing evidence (last time I served there were maybe 20 exhibits but the exhibit numbering on them went from single to triple digits), evidence that has more information than the lawyers were pointing out (generally means that both sides stipulated that the thing, while possibly very interesting, was irrelevant to the case itself), and strange turns in procedure. And the officers of the court ask about the jury's thoughts. It's all quite jovial, and in all the cases I've been on there was no reason for anyone to hesitate to be open about everything. In the case where a jury decides to nullify the law, it's probably different, but would you trust 11 other people not to feel like they should brag that they deliberately stuck it to the man?

Re:My answer ... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285224)

And it's the jury's job to acquit if the law is being abused. I highly recommend the book Jury Nullification, which covers the history of juries.

Re:My answer ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285122)

If we're bound by the idea that if it is a "law" that it is legal

OK, maybe I'm being thick, but isn't "it's the law" what the word "legal" means?

Cannot be worse than the current system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284696)

My Wife got a jury summons last month. The summons mentioned that she could reply only. She tried, but their reply page only supported IE 5 (yes, five).

For the Love of God, serve on a jury (1)

quatin (1589389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284714)

If you're any good with reasoning and logic. Try to serve on a jury. TRY! Give them the answers they want. I've been through the jury selection process and see who they pick as your "peers". God forbid if you ever have to be trialed and all the reasonable jurors made up excuses to get out of jury duty.

Re:For the Love of God, serve on a jury (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284806)

You don't give them the answer they want, you give them the answer you think is right. Don't try to be part of the jury and don't try to get out. Just go there the day you are called answer all the questions truthfully. If they don't want you, your out. Otherwise you are in.

Re:For the Love of God, serve on a jury (1)

quatin (1589389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285042)

The system is flawed. Your jury of peers are full of the most easily manipulated people. People who are malleable and submissive, often the un-educated. This is how wrongful convictions occur, by an imbalance in skill level of the opposing attorneys.

The ideal jury would be those with good reasoning ability and highly educated. Those who can see past the bias of the presentation of evidence and testimony to form their own opinions of the case. These are the people who can form a neutral opinion. Therefore, I believe it a duty for those who are in the latter category to TRY to get on the jury, because someones livelihood is at stake.

Re:For the Love of God, serve on a jury (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285046)

I hear what you're saying, but doesn't that just lead to people with analytical minds and critical thinking skills being discarded? The lawyers want people they can sway with emotional arguments.

Complain of law abuse, but then shirk jury call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34284724)

The US jury is the final barrier to abuse of laws and other injustices. If you excuse your way out of serving on a jury, you have little grounds to complain about abuses of law, since you passed up an opportunity to potentially stop it, if it was present in that case.

I wish I'd get more Jury Duty, really... (2, Interesting)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284734)

I know I have a better understanding of science & technology (through hobbies), law (by education), logic & fallacy (by education), and value my integrity more than the vast majority of the public. I love to see the process in action (even though I decided not to be part of it professionally).

I have, though, considered it an imaginary dream job to simply serve on juries day-in and day-out. Professional Juror! Critical thinking, creative solutions-- civil and criminal cases alike.

Re:I wish I'd get more Jury Duty, really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285160)

I have, though, considered it an imaginary dream job to simply serve on juries day-in and day-out. Professional Juror! Critical thinking, creative solutions-- civil and criminal cases alike.

If you think critical thinkers would end up being jurors under a professional juror system, you are delusional. The system would weed them straight out.

Re:I wish I'd get more Jury Duty, really... (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285474)

Ha! Never! I know *I* would be great... but I know few others that would be.

Implementation seems to not quite work yet (1)

Aelyew (14580) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284766)

The jury summons I received last week had the option of responding via ejuror.co.clark.nv.us. I attempted to login and was denied access. The error message indicated that neither my social security nor birthdate matched what was in the system. However when I called in and eventually got access to a live person, both of those details were correct in the system. Color me not impressed.

Jury duty letters get sent to my childhood address (2, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284856)

Even though I haven't lived there since 1986. My mother, who has nothing else better to do, calls the number on the letter, and tells (brags) that her son is working on another continent. She has repeatedly requested that my name be removed from the list, which doesn't seem to work. She was called up herself, but given that she was over 80, and has heath problems she didn't want to serve. But neither the DA or the defense wanted to excuse her. Did they think that old ladies can be manipulated?

Anyway the case was against a cop from her town being charged for using excessive force or something like that. She was finally so frustrated at not being excused, that when the judge asked her at the end, if there was anything she would like to say, she answered, "I could never find a police officer from my town guilty." I would have thought that the DA would have asked her that, but I guess he was hoping that he had a senior citizen to manipulate.

When my father was called up jury duty, he told me how the selection process went. He was a quiet person, but a very astute observer. Both the DA and the defense kicked off anyone prospective juror who had half a brain. The first question presented to him was about his education and profession. Both the DA and the defense attorney stood up, the judge laughed, and said to my father, "Go home."

Now that I am older, and could afford to spend to spend some time on a jury, I wouldn't mind doing so. But I would probably get chucked as fast as my dad did.

Re:Jury duty letters get sent to my childhood addr (1)

Yossarian45793 (617611) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285180)

I served on a jury in Wake County (NC) and my experience was the opposite. To a person all 14 of us were college educated and about half the jurors had higher than college level education. The only people who were excused were people with ties to law enforcement and people who had been on the receiving end of law enforcement in the past.

Re:Jury duty letters get sent to my childhood addr (2, Funny)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285274)

I think it may depend on the area. I've seen some trials where some smart people have served. An interesting major case with that would be the Terry Childs case. One of the jurors had a CCIE. Means not only is he extremely smart, but extremely knowledgeable in the technical aspects that will come up. However he was chosen to serve. There is no universal truth to selection in my experience.

As for stupid summons I've got a good one:

My mom is a Canadian by birth, and never bothered to immigrate to the US (well she did actually 1 year before moving back to Canada). Had her green card for decades and all was well. Periodically she'd get a jury summons. She'd mark the "I'm not a citizen," box and that was that but they didn't take her off the list. One time she gets a summons, makes the "Go away box," gets a "You have to come or we'll issue a warrant for your arrest," letter. So she goes. The case is for something minor and the judge starts off with a speech to the effect of "This case will be done before the end of the day, so I don't want to hear any lame excuses why you don't have time to serve. That said, does anyone have a legit reason they can't be here?" Mom timidly raised her hand and said "I'm Canadian." The judge was flabbergasted said "Do you have your green card? Come here!" She showed him her green card, he wrote down her name and turned to a deputy and said "Get her off the list, I don't want to hear she's been bothered again." He then apologized to my mom and she left. Never got a summons again.

Weeding out the indifferent... (2, Interesting)

Nags14 (1943942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284864)

It seems that if people have the option to run away from this responsibility, the people who choose to do so are the ones who we wouldn't care to have on the jury anyway. I don't know about everyone else, but if I was being convicted of a crime I didn't commit, I would rather have the people that are willing to take the time out of their lives to do so, then the ones who will vote the way of the majority in order to end the process quickly.

Re:Weeding out the indifferent... (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284946)

I read an article about this a while back. IIRC, juries are generally made up of old people, who also bias female, government employees and union members. Everyone else has to work or take care of their kids. The stats get stronger based on the length of the trial, which makes sense. I served on a trial that was one week, which was the same amount of time as the jury duty. Any longer and I would have had to bail because I couldn't afford to take unpaid time off.

Re:Weeding out the indifferent... (1)

stephathome (1862868) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285584)

Very true about government employees. My husband works for the state, and they get paid just like normal for jury duty. We rather like that it makes jury duty an easy service for him rather than a financial issue. He's one of those people who gets it every two years, just about like clockwork. The one awkward time was when he got two summons about a week apart, one for Federal and one for Superior court, as I recall. Took a few calls to sort that one out, since you aren't supposed to do both so close together.

Here's a better way to get out of jury duty. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285072)

Never mind the outlandish costumes or personality quirks that smack of the obvious. Just simply state you are a law fanatic, and are eager to get on a case where you can make new law. You'll get rejected immediately.

Re:Here's a better way to get out of jury duty. (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285442)

When I was younger, before I decided that I would want to serve...

They give out a questionnaire. One of the questions was "is there any other reason why you feel you would have a hard time being impartial".

I wrote simply "Just my resentment at being forced to participate in a system that I don't believe in".

No idea if most judges even read them. However, one of the cases was a rape case, and for that one, they called each potential juror in individually. I was called in, I sat down. The judge looked down at my questionaire for a second and immediately said "You are dismissed".

What can they do? Punish me for honesty?

-Steve

This would be great (1)

Mister Fright (1559681) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285168)

I would have loved to have this in my district when I was summoned for the second time. Hopefully this system checks if a potential juror is exempt because they previously served within the last two years or whatever and doesn't even send a notice out. I was so angry when they mailed me that second summons and I had to tell them I'm exempt, something that they should already know. I'm sure they had to verify my exemption by easily looking it up, but no, they had to waste my tax dollars and money.

To all saying you should serve as a juror especially if you are logical and would make good choices - part of the juror selection process (at least what I went through) is the judge asks you some questions about what you do, your job, and some other things to make you comfortable and at ease. Then the counsel for both sides takes turns saying which jurors they don't want to server. And guess what. They selected the scientists and engineers to not be their jurors. I was still on there because I think they reached their limit of who to throw off (I'd like to think I'm one of those smart people they'd throw off since I'm a mathematician/computer scientist that studies philosophy of science on the side.) Why throw off the smart ones? My guess is they think they're less moved by emotion and listen more to reason.

Jury Nullification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285350)

If you want out of jury duty just say: "I'm a proponent of jury nullification"

Headline 2011: eJury hacker found innocent... (1)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285366)

...trial by jury, who, by some random coincidence, all also happened to be computer hackers.

election judges make more for 1 day work then jury (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285528)

election judges make more for 1 day work then some jurys make in 2-3 days.

jury pay should be at least $100-$200 a day + transportation expenses. And $300 + a day if you are sequestered overnight.

Scheduling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285598)

I've tried to fulfill my civic duty (or at least get to the part where they toss me during jury selection based on my education).... but the county where I live has bizzaro scheduling rules for jury duty
- You are "on call" for a month
- You have to call every single morning to find out if you were selected for that particular day

both occasions I've received summons have been months where I was scheduled to travel for work and couldn't sit around on my ass for an entire month waiting to randomly get called. After the first summons, I submitted a deferment with a simple explanation e.g. "I cannot serve this month but will gladly serve during any of the following months ___, ____, ...". They deferred the duty, but ignored the rescheduling request. A few months later they send me another summons during another inconvenient time and now refused to defer further despite a detailed letter and several calls. The irate lady on the phone wouldn't budge. Conversation went something like this

clerk : You are scheduled for jury duty this coming month
me : I won't be home that month, but will gladly serve during ______ months
clerk : your duty is for the NEXT month
me : I understand, but I am on travel for business that entire month, can we please defer the duty to another date and I will definitely serve
clerk : we have already granted you one deferment
me : I am physically on the OTHER SIDE of the country trying to earn a living right now, it is impractical for me to fly back and sit at home for the entire month waiting to possibly get picked by your inane process
clerk : if you don't show up next month I will have a warrant served by the sheriff for your appearance.

I finally just sent them a utility bill from one of the properties I own in another state and told them to go pound sand. They haven't bothered me since. The kicker is that I was perfectly willing to serve had they shown a little bit of flexibility in the scheduling (or just had a less retarded process).

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