Jury Duty

jury-duty.jpegIn my first 4 decades of life, in Cook County, Illinois, I was summoned for jury duty twice and actually served once. Average time between juror duties: about 20 years.

In five years in Shasta County, CA, I have been summoned three times, beginning 4 months after I moved here. Average time between juror duties: about 1.2 years.

I believe in the jury system. I believe in doing my civic duty. But I don’t understand the frequency disparity. Cook County is arguably the most litigious county in the nation. What is it about Shasta County that I get summoned so frequently?

judgegavel.jpegOn second thought, don’t answer that question. I like living here–don’t spoil it for me.

I don’t mind serving on a jury, really. In fact, when I was single and without children, I looked forward to it… but rarely got the call. Now that I have two children whom I drive to school every morning, and now that I am teaching at Simpson University twice per week (Biblical Hermeneutics), and now that Margi is also teaching there (Business Law, Business Ethics), I dread the thought of actually being empaneled as a juror.

How will my kids get to school on the days that Margi teaches early? If a trial goes long, who will fill in for me at Simpson? When will I prepare sermons? And what about my looming book deadline?

I can almost hear the judge now: “Sir, everybody’s busy.”

toobusy.jpegI agree. I know. I’m not looking for an excuse. I’m sincerely nervous about these things. I’ve been practicing my lines: “I believe in the sanctify of life, Your Honor, and the best way to protect life is the swift, certain, and merciless punishment of those who harm it.”

Yeah, that’s original. I’m sure a judge has never heard that one.

How about the Swollen Prostate argument? Equally unoriginal.

There’s only one argument that might predispose a judge to dismiss me… assuming the judge is male: The Man Cold Argument. A guy judge would empathize and let me off in a heartbeat. If it’s a woman judge, however… all I’ll get is an eye-roll.

Either way, I say, “If he looks guilty, he is guilty.”


12 thoughts on “Jury Duty

  1. I knew someone here in shasta county that was being called to jury duty all the time, sometimes just months apart. After looking into it she found out that her name was “in the hat” multiple times instead of just once. I guess the courts get their names from multiple sources such as DMV and voter registration rolls and sometimes duplicates can be missed. She had the extra entries removed and then her jury summonsing returned to a normal frequency. I’m not sure where you go to check on this but it wouldn’t hurt to see if this has happened to you.

  2. I want to know what you did or said while in Cook County because they call me every other year! I’ve even ended up once on a two week trial…murder one…of course when we decide he’s guilty and we pull a name out of the hat I’m the one who ends up the foreman and have to deliver that news to the guy!!
    The judge for that trail didn’t let anyone out of their jury duty. One guy tried to say he was prejudice so he couldn’t be fair. The judge said get over it or I’ll hold you in contempt. He got over it real quick!
    All I can say is if I was on the accused side of the table I would want intelligent people in the jury box that day!

  3. If it makes you feel better…I’m 34 and I JUST got called for the first time last month. I’ve wanted to be on a jury forever….I think I was TOO excited…I got called to the panel, and the defense asked me ‘Mr. Rueb, what was your first thought when you came into the court room this morning?’ Most people said things along the lines you mentioned…’I wasn’t thrilled…’ ‘Man, I hope this is over soon.’

    I said, ‘Honestly, I’m totally excited to be here.’

    They dismissed me. I felt a little better because the waiting jurors gave me one of those sitcom ‘aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’s’ I guess they were rooting for me to make it to. It was like Judicial Idol.

    Good Luck though.

  4. Dr. G, the first twenty years of life you’re too young to serve. I’ve been called three times in thirty years actually serving on a jury that was hung. I thought the guy was guilty and knew it, but my fellow jurors felt he surely must have been mistaken about the car being stolen. Poor little bunny.

    This last time I made it to the jury box but when I told them I had donated to my church and Christian Women for America (don’t really know why they want to know where one donates their money…), I was rejected. Truly hurt my feelings as I wanted to serve on the jury. Rejection is so painful… I guess being old AND religious AND for America didn’t set well with even the prosecutor! And they said it was never anything to be taken personal…

    PS – I know I misspoke about CWA. It’s really CONCERNED Women for America, but I couldn’t remember accurately (whoa, was that the reason – brainless?). It is possible my statement wasn’t really the reason I was rejected….but….

    Hey, have YOU donated to CWA??

  5. Hey Bill,
    Here’s some of our experiences. (Not thinking anything of it) during a lunch break Ryan told the prosecuting lawyers co worker, “I’m impressed by your partner”. Well , when the jury selection resumed; Ryan got called up to the front by the Judge. In front of everyone, got somewhat reprimanded & dismissed. He said he felt like a kid again being scolded in the principles office. Or get lucky, like I did. The defense attorney was the same I had in my prior experience. All I said was “I recognize the defense attorney , he was the same In a prior case. His client was at……..& we found him guilty.” After a few minutes I was dismissed by that lawyer. I bet the prosecuting lawyer wished I stayed. Hang in there!!!!!!

  6. Hm. Will be 34 in one month, and never been called on. I must sneak under the radar somehow… 😉 I’ve heard from a number of people that they don’t want you if they perceive you to be ‘religious’. Is that true? If so, isn’t that a little weird and/or scary?

  7. Bill,
    I have good news.
    The webpage states that there are exeptions…
    Suggestion — You tell the judge the following (in Italian), “Il tuo onore, Io non parlo inglese… Io sono un italiano da Chicago, che ha sposato un avvocato. Io sono esenti, se mia moglie è un avvocato? Sapevate che “la carne bovina italiana” è stata inventata a Chicago?
    (TRANSLATION: Your Honor, I do not speak English; I am an Italian from Chicago, who married an attorney. Am I exempt, if my wife is an attorney? Did you know that “Italian beef” was invented in Chicago?)
    NOTE: Not speaking English is a reason for exemption.

  8. when my husband is asked questions he just says he believes in legalized marijuana and anything else thats sounds radically left. gets off everytime. so, i suppose being radically for something is what does the trick.

  9. I’ll pray for you and your kids rides and the sermon and Margi and Simpson and the book and your man cold too!

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