Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do your damn duty!

I was visiting here (a very good blog by the way if you don't frequent it) and he posted a link on jury duty.

I went into the comments section to post my thoughts when I read another blogger's comment about not getting paid to serve and what he thought was an otherwise waste of a day.


It causes me no small amount of anger when I hear of people doing their best to avoid jury duty in general.

It's especially irksome when it comes from fellow Concealed Carry License holders or others who like myself who have strong conservative leanings and will go to great ends to write and talk about the sacrifice of our soldiers and tell us their feelings towards Liberty and Justice for All.

How many blog posting have we all read where a fellow CCW holder was either involved in a justifiable shooting (or was simply and rightfully carry their arms) only to find themselves arrested and charged and headed for court. Civil or Criminal. The comment sections are filled with angry rants towards Law Enforcement, the Prosecutors and the District Attorneys. Yet never at the jury.

How many times have you uttered the phrase "WELLLLL I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six!".

Given the current judicial climate in this country I'm not sure I would rather be judged by twelve. Especially when I hear of fellow gun owners and conservative activist not wanting to be "inconvenienced".

What if you found yourself on a jury where a man was being sued in a civil trial for shooting and killing his attacker, and now the dead criminal's family was suing for wrongful death. What if because of you a concealed weapons permit holder who has extensive knowledge of firearms, self-defense tactics and the like were able to delouse scare tactics (read: An evil plastic gun that holds 17 rounds of deadly 9mm) brought on by the Plaintiff's attorney.

Go read the ordeal of Harold Fish and then tell me how nice it was that you were able to skate out of jury duty.

What if because you failed to do your duty a fellow citizen who is innocent had to leverage their home and retirement in order to pay for legal fees.

As I sit at my desk and write this post I am looking at a pile of file folders and manila envelopes from this client's case that appeared on 48 Hours Mystery over three years ago. I strongly encourage you to watch the episode called Dream Killer and then pay particular attention to the interviews given by some of the jurors. Because the easily swayed may one day also be judging you.

Having testified in dozens of court cases and sat in the jury pool I can say this about the American Justice System. That when we as the backbone of society, both morally and financially fail to do our civic duty we leave it to the bummers and the dregs to weigh the future of those who sit at the defense table praying for Justice.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have always felt the same and have served on jury duty twice. Nothing dramatic, but important all the same.

leadchucker said...

A day or two from work is no sacrifice. My mom was sequestered for two weeks while sitting on a jury hearing a Murder 1 case. Kid scheduled for surgery, water pump out on the house, a garden that was ready, a million reasons to not do it. SHE sacrificed and did it willingly, because it was asked of her.

I've been paying taxes and voting since I was 18, and I have yet to be called. Ready, willing and able. Just put me in coach, I've got a hell of an example to live up to.....

joe said...

I was called several times while I was at sea, but never called. A bit hard to serve when you're out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, I've been able to serve (for 6 or 7 years) with no calls at all. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Agreed 100%, Additionally, I believe all jurors should be told about jury nullification. It is a concept not widely known and very, very rarely told to a jury. A pro second amendment juror can change more than just the verdict with jury nullification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

Anonymous said...

Man, well said. I almost wish I could volunteer myself.

Wow, reading comment #4, I didn't even know about jury nullification.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I have been called and missed once do to work but have made it every other time, never selected but I am there.

GunRights4US said...

Great post! And thanks for the compliment on my blog.

You have a have a damn nice place here yourself! I'm making my way thru all you've written as clearly you've got a worthy skill set.

Seamus McFisticuffs said...

Spot on. I recently served on a jury for the first time and have put a couple of thoughts about it on my blog, too.

There's an old joke about whether you really want to be judged by twelve people too stupid to get out of jury duty. The attitude behind that pisses me off to no end. To me it was both a duty and an honor - I knew that when I walked out of that courtroom at the end of the day I had done all I could to make sure that justice was done.

Anonymous said...

I've not been called yet but my parents both have. Each time they've been called, they have been dismissed because they have more than a Bachelor's Degree. The plaintiff's attorney didn't want them. Apparently he or she was concerned that they might, indeed, think and apply their knowledge to his or her arguments.

GunRights4US said...

I've actually resolved (again...since reading Send in the Waco Killers) that if I ever get another chance, I'm going to lie or do whatever it takes to get on a jury. And then I will judge both the defendant AND the validity of the law under which he's been accused.

Matthew said...

I totally agree. I've got no problem with failing to raise my hand in what someone construes to be "conflict of interest."

armed_and_christian said...

Well written, Matthew, and yes, I also feel the same. I had a boss once who was irate that I was called to serve on a sequestered jury, and asked me to try and get out of it. I told him I'd walk off the job before I'd walk off the jury.

My princess and I have both jumped on every opportunity we've had to "do our civic duty," and we generally end up being the jury foreman as well.

There is some truth to the (admittedly angering) sentiment about a jury being composed of people "not smart enough" to get out of it--and that's the problem: too many juries are filled with people unaccustomed to thinking. Good God almighty! With the prospect of someone in need of justice having their fate determined by a group of sheeple, how on Earth can we who can and do think possibly shirk our duty and commit that sort of gross injustice?

Shane said...

I've been summoned three times but never place on a jury. The most recent time I was told there were enough in the pool excused when I signed in. I volunteered to stay so someone not wanting to be there could be excused. Even though they completed selection less than an hour later without calling me, just watching real court proceedings was fascinating.

tjbbpgobIII said...

armed_and_christian said;
Those are the same words I have used to bosses who wanted to write me an excuse to excuse my duty. He had done this for himself several times but after I stood up to him no one else shirked their duty again while I was there, which lasted until they closed the doors.

Anonymous said...

I've served on a single jury, as foreman. It was unpleasant, but I'm glad I did it. This kid was accused of DUI, Reckless, Criminal Damage, and a couple of traffic charges. He was guilty as sin and if he was my son I would have sent his sorry ass to military school.

We found him not guilty. The prosecutor did not present enough evidence to convict. For all that I was morally convinced of his guilt, I view this verdict as a victory. If the state doesn't present a solid case, then they should lose.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the details of this particular case, is it common practice for prosecutors to emphasize caliber and "hollow point" bullet types as evidence of premediation or intent to commit homicide?

One of the polled jurors felt particularly swayed by this.

p5: "Elliot: The whole hollow point thing bothered me. That bullet is designed to do as much damage as absolutely possible. It’s designed to kill."

It seems completely spurious for a prosecutor to paint hollow points for self-defence as anything but sensible, recommended, standard procedure. Even if a defence atty refuted this point effectively, I suspect this woman's mind had been made up.

I see this as underscoring the thesis of Matthew's original post, that having someone with a knowledge of ballistics and supportive of the concept of self-defence on juries is probably the most effective way of dealing with this kind of attack.

Scary. I wonder if anyone on that jury was a gun owner.

ktzf said...

And I'm that loser who WANTS to get jury duty but never, ever does...

Larry said...

I would most willingly serve on jury duty, but I would not lie to get in, nor fail to answer a question truthfully. You don't want a potential scumbag to get off because of a mis trial.

The best path is scrupulous honesty and precisely minimalist answers, much the same as if you were the one accused.

staghounds said...

I'm one of those eeeeevil prosecutors.

They call it duty for a reason, do it.

Anonymous said...

I have just found your blog and enjoy it.I have shown up to jury selection several times but I have never served. There is going to be one side that doesn't want someone in the medical field on the jury, or ex military, or victim of a failed mugging.I had gotten the feeling that one side was hopeing to get people that couldn't spell their own names.

Jeremy Vance said...

You should do a follow up on this post. 48 hours has a special on the case this weekend.