Monday, October 27, 2008

A Day In The Life of A Trial Juror

A day in the life of a Trial Juror

Jury Duty Day #1
I didn’t get picked. One of the other jurors who didn’t get picked said he felt like he had a big R on his forehead, for reject. He was kidding, of course. The judge had given us a firm lecture about the fact that not being picked was not a reflection of our intelligence or lack thereof, interesting none the less. Since I didn’t get picked, I can tell you about it.

First, I enjoyed my Metro Link trip. I don’t often ride public transportation, as I am retired. And the train rails didn’t go my way when I was working. Everyone was driving into town, I was driving out. But that too, is another story. I dutifully bought my round trip ticket ( $4.00) from the vending machine, used a $5 bill, and was appalled that it only gave me a quarter in change. I kept searching for more quarters, didn’t find them, got on the train and decided I had made a 75 cent donation to the mass transportation system in St. Louis, which could use the money. But clearly needs more than 75 cents. (Yes, yet another story for another day.) I clearly get excited every time I ride the Metro Link Rails; I especially like to take them to the baseball or hockey game. (maybe twice a year! Lol)

Imagine my surprise (and the first of several minor embarrassments of the day), when I discovered that said quarter was actually a Susan Anthony dollar coin.

I passed the security screening, and made my way to the elevator and into the Jury Assembly Room, 6th floor of the County Court House. Nice people. Nice chairs. The little things matter on jury duty when you could potentially sit there for 8 hours. We have little badges that we are required to wear everywhere we go, even at lunch, so that lawyers won’t discuss cases with us. Then you must turn them in at the end of your service so they will pay you. ( the badges not the lawyers.) If you are picked for a jury, you get $18 per day. If you are not picked, you get paid $10 per day. Oh, and they pay your mileage from your zip code to the court house zip.

Shortly after assembly the bailiffs come from the various court divisions to take a panel of jurors to be interviewed. Voir Dire (Tell the truth). Which we did, which may explain why we weren’t picked.

The case involved a man who backed into a woman and her grandchild in the parking lot of one of the local Wal-Marts. The man’s mirror hit the woman in the back or shoulder area and hurt her neck, subsequently she needed to have surgery, and it aggravated a preexisting condition. The man also left the scene of the accident and the police had to go to his house to find him. Sooooooo we had to be questioned about our experiences with suing people, relationships with lawyers, claims filed, accidents, injuries and anything else we thought might cause us to not be fair and impartial. Whewwwww.

My list of offences.
1. I am related to three lawyers. My brother, an assistant prosecutor and later a corporate utility attorney; my niece, a patent attorney; my niece’s husband, who handles assorted cases.
2. I filed a worker’s compensation claim, this caused a chuckle, I broke my ankle while playing volleyball with my students during the school day. It required surgery, screws and pins, later removal and physical therapy.
3. I was side swiped by a truck mirror while on a bike trip in Door County, Wisconsin, the person left the scene of the accident. The ER told me my shoulder blade was broken, follow up with a local Orthopedic MD said it wasn’t broken. Mess up the trip, but I lived to tell about it and had on a helmet.
4. Hand a minor fender bender with another person, who left the scene of the accident, no injuries.
5. Served previously on a jury.
6. I am familiar with the location of the accident.

Now, some of the other tales…….

Some of the individuals said they were familiar with a local chiropractor involved in the case. They did not have a professional relationship with this group, but indicated they had seen billboards advertising the practice. In response the plaintiffs lawyer asked them if they had an adverse feeling towards this group. They indicated no.

As an afterthought the lawyer asked if anyone objected to his law firm, which is Brown and Crouppon , a local law firm that advertises heavily in the media. One of the women, who appeared to be in her 70s indicated she did. Her story was that her 92 year old father was an attorney from the old school, and you just didn’t advertise. Her words…”It’s just tacky”. And yes, it would affect her decision in the case. (She didn’t get picked.) ( I found this interesting. My niece’s husband is in a photo with the partners from his law firm on the cover of the local YELLOW PAGES,)

The best story and it nearly floored the lawyers, was the story from the woman sitting next to me who filed a suit against Great Clips. It was over a bad haircut. They apparently gave her bangs in the back, she indicated this was her first law suit (almost as if she had more planned for later.) They settled out of court. After all she said they said on the door that they guaranteed you satisfaction.
I have never seen a lawyer speechless.
While standing around outside of the court room, you couldn’t help but over hear some of the conversations with lawyers and their clients. Bits and pieces I heard. “You can’t have in your possession over 96 30mg tablets of pseudoephedrine. ….later there was an additional comment about your can’t have that much Anhydrous ammonia if you are not a farmer. I think they were negotiating for probation if they bypassed the jury trial.

So that was my day. Lunch was in the court house snack bar, yogurt, chips and a diet coke. I caught up on reading my library book , Tess Gerritsen’s The Keepsake. While reading, the elderly gentleman next to me sort of chuckled at what I was reading and asked if I had read Anne of Green Gables. My reply, “Why, yes, I just finished that for my book club”. (Really)

So check back and see what tomorrow brings!


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