Monday, May 01, 2006

Say Hello to Juror #6

I arrived for the voir dire, which we (re: the potential jurors) were told would last an hour. Mine lasted almost 3 hours. WTF? I've never been through the whole process so my idea of what it was going to be like; sat down at a table in a room and asked questions by both the defense and the prosecution, was very different than what actually took place.

I arrived early, went to the 8th floor and waited outside the court room where the voir dire was to take place. While I sat and read my book I noticed that one of the Defense lawyers passed by several times in a not so subtle attempt (I think) to size me up. I was eventually led into the court room by a bailiff that reminded me of a friendlier version of Boss Hogg. As it turned out I had to actually sit on the witness stand, mic et al, next to the judge. Also present were the court reporter (not the cute one I mentioned earlier. DAMMIT!), 2 bailiffs, the Defendant, the Defense lawyers and the Prosecution lawyers. Needless to say I was a little intimidated, but I think I did a good job of keeping my composure.

After being sworn in, the Prosecution introduced themselves and one of them began going over certain legal terms (via a PowerPoint presentation) and telling me how "interesting" he found some of my answers on my questionnaire. The majority of his questioning was to make sure I understood the legal jargon and what it entailed. During his line of questioning the defense objected maybe 3 times (alleged coaching). This was slightly nasty. The Prosecution and the Defense were obviously not on good terms.

So then it finally came time for the Defense to question me. While one of the lawyers prepped his slide presentation I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the Prosecution lawyer who had just questioned me was leaning back in his chair, looking at the other Defense lawyer (the one seated) who was giving him a death stare. The Prosecution was doing this arched eyebrow thing as if to say, "Ha ha! Whatcha gonna do about it, bitch?" It was all very hostile and made me very uncomfortable. I was surprised that he was being so blatantly unprofessional. It was a real eye-opener for me.

Speaking of insights, before I forget, here are some other things I initially noticed about each side on the first day of jury duty last week:

Prosecution:
• Neatly dressed (ironed, etc.)
• Stoic/Emotionless
• Kept their hands behind them when approaching the bench ("unthreatening")
Defense:
• Smiled more
• One lawyer's shoes were dirty and very sloppy
• One lawyer's suit jacket didn't match his pants

Just observations, but sometimes the little things can give you some insight into what someone is really about.

So, the Defense begins questioning me and at one point the Prosecution objects and after going back and forth and back and forth with each popping up and down, the judge eventually asks me to please leave while he "talks" to them. I get escorted back out into the hall where one of the guys who was sitting next to me last week (#7) is waiting to be questioned next. I look at him and say a friendly "Hi!" and he gets this scrunched up look on his face like something stinks, looks at me and says nothing. WTF is that about. Fuck you four eyes. See if I try to be nice to you again, prick.

So, I get called back in and they explain how sometimes they have to discuss things, etc. I say "I understand" and we finish up with the questioning. Again, I get asked to leave and wait out in the hall. They'll call me back in to let me know if I am to be on the jury or not. I come back in and they tell me that I am indeed on the jury.

The trial is set to begin in early June and the Defense lawyer said it could last anywhere from 1-3 months (joy). Of course I can't reveal the nature of the case, but let's just say it deals with some major elements. I'm more than a little nervous knowing that I'm going to play a part in deciding someone's fate.

5 Comments:

Blogger Rene Merced Jr said...

Sounds very interesting, Kirk. Take detailed notes so when it's over we can hear all about it.

How much does a juror get paid dury jury duty these days?

Monday, May 01, 2006 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Dennis! said...

Congrats! I would love to serve on a jury, but once they hear I'm a lawyer the tend to strike me. I'll get another shot next week.

But then 1-3 months is a little excessive.

Monday, May 01, 2006 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

Wow, sounds scary. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 7:34:00 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

I am really proud of you for being completely honest in your answers. So many people just want to 'get out of it'. If I'm every on trail, I hope someone as intelligent and fair as you is picked for my jury.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Kirkkitsch said...

Rene-
I will! I will! Mental notes, that is. I wonder if you're allowed to actually take notes while in the jury box. I'll have to check on that. I'm a note-taking fiend, so that would be good for me.

Funny you should ask about the payment part of jury duty, as I just received my second check from them just today. As it turns out, the first day of jury duty, you receive a whopping $6. However, apparently Texas just passed some law in the 90's ('95?) so instead of the old $10 for each additional day, it's been bumped up to $40 for each additional day (that was the check I received today). Not too shabby!

Dennis-

Thanks!

Doh! Being a fellow lawyer. That'll do it. LOL! You're a little too close to the situation, I guess. They're probably afraid you might know more than they do and tell the other jurors. Those sneaky bastards.

Yeah, I am SO hoping it doesn't last that long. The money is nice, but then you have to factor in the gas to get there. Oy

Cheryl-
Thanks. I'm nervous about it. I don't know what to expect. God, wouldn't it be awful if I dozed off like some old man? Ack!

Terri-
Aw, you're so nice. Thank you. Yeah, I've had more than one person admonish me for not trying harder to "not get picked." Not in a harsh way, but in the sense that I was somehow stupid enough to "tell the truth." Eh. Whatever. I know if I were on trial I'd want someone who was capable of being impartial and considered all the evidence (or lack thereof) before deciding my fate. I just hope I make the right decision.

Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it. :D

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 8:01:00 PM  

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