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View Diary: jury duty (or: Twelve Angry Men, here we come...) (54 comments)

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  •  I just spent the last year on my county's Grand (7+ / 0-)

    Jury.  We ended our service last Friday.

    It was extremely interesting and educational.  I am not a fan of the "justice" system, especially law enforcement, but was impressed by the dedication of the officers in charge of the Detention Center and the adjustments they have had to make with less staff, less money and more hardened offenders with CA's AB109 in place.

    Every person was there for the right reason.  There were respectful disagreements and people were sometimes swayed to change their minds.  Yet those on the losing side always took it in stride.

    People seemed to realize during indictment proceedings that someone's life was as stake, either as the victim or the offender and everyone took it seriously.

    It is definitely a time commitment and we bled younger members over the year, but I recommend it for anyone who wants to see the inner workings of how local government works.  It does take up some time, however.

    You don't have to wait to be called for a jury...you can volunteer for the Grand Jury.

    •  I got a Grand Jury summons a few years back (4+ / 0-)

      I was thrilled!

      I do think that we are duty bound to honor jury summons, and it's obviously a most serious matter.

      I was really looking forward to seeing the justice system from that unique inside viewpoint.

      We all filed into the courtroom and the judge began calling names. And yes, I was called to be one of the 18 (as I recall).

      However, the stint was a year-long commitment, and the judge said the times would vary. Some weeks it might be just a few hours, and other weeks it could be 20 or 30 hours of duty.

      So, when it came time for me to talk to the judge, I had to be honest and tell him that, as a sole wage-earner in my family, it would have been an unreasonable hardship to serve on the grand jury for this length of time.

      The judge agreed and dismissed me from service.

      I still wonder what cases they looked at over that year.

      Later, I found out that California counties take volunteer jurors for civil grand juries. You can apply for the positions, usually online at your county court website. Ms. Unoball applied to be on the civil grand jury. She eventually was given an interview with a judge, but was ultimately turned down for whatever reason.

      So, grand jury fans, keep that in mind if you need something to do for a year or so!

      •  Yes, it is the one year comittment that hurts (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sexgenderbody, nswalls, Senor Unoball

        getting a much more diverse Grand Jury.  In my CA county it is volunteer so they are up front about the time involved.  They will post the reports/investigations online towards the end of June so you can peek and see what they did that year.

        This was how I learned there is a county position called Public Guardian.  Very important job, they help decide if someone who is alone is capable of handling their own affairs or needs to have someone assigned as their guardian.  Turns out our Public Guardian was backlogged many months and the elderly were sitting alone in their own waste waiting for a decision.  Who knows this stuff is happening out there?  You see someone running for Public Guardian on the ballot unopposed and you think, "Why not?".  In the future I am paying much more attention to the ballot small print.

        Very interesting year.  I would do it again after I retire.

    •  wow! a YEAR? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Senor Unoball, sexgenderbody

      I've been called to grand jury once, and those terms were for a month. maybe our county is bigger population...

      I got picked for the Juvenile section, and the DA's liaison guy said he had NEVER seen such a quiet month. we had 2 cases only. one very clear & straightforward; one turned out to be impossible.

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 12:02:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  best experience of my life (4+ / 0-)

      (so far)
      i was selected to the grand jury for lane county, oregon in the last semester of my senior year of undergrad. missed class every day for a month (thankfully my profs. were cool since one was an admin law judge, another a poly sci prof, and the third was my adviser).

      but it was by far much more educational and enlightening than anything that i would have gone over in those classes. being exposed to the legal system in that fashion really instilled a sense of respect for the way that our legal system operates. While not perfect by any stretch, it was still pretty good and, i believe, fair (ish). i even picked up enough knowledge of portions of the criminal code to correct the DAs' mistakes (and there were several of them - be it missing potential charges or inaccurate application of charges).

      oh, and the judge also appointed me the foreman of the grand jury, which was sorta surprising considering i was maybe 21 at the time. i probably signed at least 400 indictments in that time period. great learning tool for building consensus

      also got to see effects meth use has on your brain. its shocking how many meth addicts would freely admit to the cops that they were carrying drugs. also, this was probably at least 80% of the cases we saw

      nothing says "I love Jesus" quite like killing his pets and puking on his furniture - Hunter

      by nswalls on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 12:54:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I agree completely. The witnesses at many of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sexgenderbody

        the indictments were those who had probably given up on ever seeing any kind of justice and seemed to accept their fate.  And, yes, most of them had drug and/or alcohol problems.  Living in a run down hotel in a stable sort of way was like heaven to them.  Very eye opening.  I would love to see other profs see the value in the real life experience over class room time.

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