Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jury Duty

On Tuesday I woke up early so that I could make the long drive to the Washington County Courthouse and report for Jury Duty. I can't say that I was terribly thrilled about the summons. After I got signed in, we received short orientation and watched a really lame dramatized video from the 1980s, which could have been awesome if had been narrated by Troy McLure, who you might recognize in other legal films such as "I got Busted" and "Legislating from the Bench."

Then we waited to be picked. The boredom was maddening, so I perused the old magazines on the shelf. One periodical of interest was a TIME from August 2004. I'm sure the magazine was good, but the thing I found most of interest was the back cover which happened to be an ad for a large financial institution called AIG. The ad featured a cute little girl in a ballerina outfit and a tagline that read, "With 70 billion in assets and 75 years of experience, you can count on us to be the financial institution for your GREAT- GREAT- GREAT- GREAT- GREAT- Grandchild." I started lauging outloud and a room of 200 people looked up from their Sudoku to see why someone was so happy about being a juror.

Around 11 am, I was called to a jury panel with 30 other potential jurors. We went upstairs to courtroom. I'd never been to court, and was suprised to find out that court rooms aren't pretty like the movies. They are ugly and functional. The lawyers and judge didn't seem nervous. This was normal to them. They weren't formal, like I'd imagined. This was where they worked. Based on our questionairres I was selected with 11 other to be in the intital jury panel. If none of us were excused, we'd be sitting for the trial. I started to get a bit nervous.

After we learned this was an assault case. It seems a 16 year old Somolian boy got into a fight with someone on a public basketball court. He beat up the other kid with a metal pipe. He plead not guilty by reason of self-defense. The lawyers were supposed to ask questions to get to know us, but I think they were using the time to argue the case in a round about way. The Defense lawyer asked me a bunch of questions about learning Spansih and how things are different in different languages. I felt more like a witness for the defense than a juror. He also asked in anyone had seen "Black Hawk Down" and if that would affect anyone's predjudices about someone from Somolia. Then the deputy prosecuter asked each juror in the box two questions:

"Can you tell us about yourself?" and "If you were walking down the street and someone punched you in the face, would it be right to shoot them with a gun after they ran away?"

In my discourse with both attorneys I said a few funny things to lighten the mood, was honest and truthful, and fairly calm. Jurors 1 through 16 were passed. And the judge ask for the bumps. The lawyers put names down on paper and passed them up. They bumped an engineer from Intel. Then they bumped me. I was mildly relieved, but then really wanted to know why an engineer and a financial analyst were bumped. I don't know if anyone else was bumped, but the Indian woman next to me admitted to the court to having a anti-Islam predjudice (which I understand to be rather common because of the India/Pakistan history). I really wanted to know why it was important to bump an engineer and a financial analyst first and then if possible someone who admitted to an anti-Islam predjudice, where the defendant was a Muslim from Somolia.
All that aside. I found it to be quite an interesting experience. I've never seen a trial before, so as the reality set in that I was very likely going to have to, I started to be kind of curious for the experience. But it was much better that I was able to present my regression analysis on the price of jet fuel and our travel costs to our controller while he was in Oregon. I nailed it!


Glenda said...

Adam...the reason you were bumped is that instead of being on the jury, you would become the jury, the lawyer and the judge!!! and bring the whole group along with you.
I want to hear more about the presentation on jet fuel.

Erin said...

Me too - about the presentation thing - but I im intrigued by your stream of consciousness-ish rendition of your experience. I am getting ready to teach To Kill A Mockingbird and am excited for the courtroom scenes, one of the greatest three chapters written in American lit. But I think your mom is right - you are too much Perry Mason to be on a jury.

laurel said...

That was hysterical. I was laughing out loud. The AIG thing, man, that was great. I served on a jury about 3 years ago. Didn't want to, what would I do with the kids? I tried to answer everything with a tainted view, but I still got picked. BUT, it ended up being fascinating. Our court house was nice, I met great people from very cool backgrounds, made some friends, had 4 days of free lunches that were way better than I would have had at home, plus I got paid. I know the pay sucks, but for a stay at home mom to be paid to be away from kids ended up being awesome! We convicted the guy. He claims he was so drunk he went into what he thought was his house and climbed into bed with a 13 year old girl....he claimed he thought it was his bed. Funny thing. She lived in a one story home and he lived two blocks away on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex. Any who......tell us about the presentation!!!! I love to hear how smart you are!

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