jury duty

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Micah Cohen, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    It seems that every year without fail I get summoned for jury duty here in Baltimore City. Every year. Like I'm the last guy left, and I have to go all the time. Frankly, even tho I know it's our god-given right and privilege to have this system, I am sick of this hassle.

    Some years I mark on the card that I'll be "out of the country on business" on the assigned date. Some years I write in "just went last year, please call someone else" on the card. Some years I've even checked the "over 70" box to be excused. (That worked. Once.) But this year, next week, I'm freaking going. I figure that I'll go, sit thru the day, and then next year when they call me back I'll do the "I just went" thing and get myself out of it again.

    People in Baltimore City are killing each other off at an alarming rate, and doing all sorts of awful, mean (and meaningless) things to each other all the time. And as far as I'm concerned, if they've made it as far as the Mitchell courthouse, chances are they're guilty. They just look guilty, you know?

    I'm tired of explaining to the judge, inevitably at the very end of the long, tedious, read-a-whole-novel day, that my car was stolen/my sister was assaulted/I run my own business/I am inexorably drawn to authority figures and have always wanted to be a policeman so "I can punish the bad guys," you know what I mean, your honor, so I doubt I'd be able to make a non-biased judgement when it comes to a criminal matter so please let me go the heck home, your honor.

    I am tired of being summoned every year for this madness.

    Just felt like ranting.

    MC
     
  2. Mark Philp

    Mark Philp Second Unit

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    They call you every year in Baltimore? Interesting. Here in New York State, if you're summoned, you can ask to be excused once. However,to get it, you must agree to serve on another specific week, usually you can choose the date. After that, even if you never were chosen for a jury, you're excused for another four years. In most cases, it's actually longer. I went nine years before I was called again.
     
  3. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    So Micah, did you ever sit on a criminal case?
     
  4. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    I'm not sure how they worked jury duty in Orange County, CA but when one person got summoned in our office everyone started to get them. It was weird.

    I got called twice in the ten years I lived there. 1st time I didn't have to show. The 2nd time I went I was on the fence on if I actually wanted to serve or not. I wanted to because I wanted see how the whole process worked - I enjoy a good lawyer crime book on occasion. But on the other had my schedule made it really difficult if it was going to be more than a day or two trial (i work nights and take care of the kids during the day so if I had jury duty it was my wife who had to take off work).

    It was interesting watching the jury duty process tho. It went on for a while and we were down to a dozen people left in the pool and I was one who didn't get called up to be interviewed. But it was interesting to see people blatently lying about things to get out of serving.

    A co-worker of mine was called once and is one of those who just doesn't want to serve. So when he was called to be intereviewed and the lawyer asked if he had any questions he said "Just one. Is your client in the county legally or illegally?" Huge uproar in the court. The lawyer got angry. The judge got angry. And my co-worker was immediately excused.

    -paul
     
  5. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    I am so conflicted about this. I know it's a great thing to be able to serve on a jury; an American thing. But, it's also a hassle-and-a-half, especially if you run your own business, and plus I tend to believe that if you stay on the right side of the law, you don't end up in the courtroom, so if you're here... You know? (It's like when you watch "Cops" on TV. Sometimes I just want to shout, "Keep your shirt on, dude, then you won't get caught!")

    In Baltimore City, they have "one day or one trial." You go for jury duty and you do that one day, or you get picked (during that day) and serve for the extent of one trial. You usually end up sitting in a filthy room, with filthy people, all day (I bring a book), and then only late do they ever get you in front of a judge, if at all. The whole day is a stress: will I, or won't I? This might be ok if I had to do this once in a great while.

    But my beef is that I seem to be summoned every year without fail. I keep the summonses, and I see that I get one every freaking year. Don't they have any other people in Baltimore City they can call? Can't I write a letter, say I hate criminals, and ask to be excused for at least a few years? Leave me alone!

    People always say to me, "I just rip the summons up," or, "I ignore it." How do you ignore a jury duty summons, can someone tell me? Do you ignore the jury duty summons? If you do, what happens to you? (Or, what doesn't happen to you? Should I just start ignoring them? Say I didn't get it? Mail got lost? Something? What?)

    My jury duty day is next Thursday, and you can see how stressed out this makes me already.

    MC
     
  6. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Man I wish I was in that courtroom that day to see that! I'm not quite sure why everyone was in an upoar. If the individual was an illegal immigrant, the presumption of guilt can be very high because to a juror, that individual is already guilty of a crime.

    As for the annoyances of jury duty, I wouldn't know since I've never been called up. But I can tell you that in Montreal, if you ignore a summons, you can be held in contempt.
     
  7. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer
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    The court and the governments, provincial and federal, hold you in contempt anyway. I was called up; however, I didn't realize it until quite late because I didn't read the summons until after the return date. I'm kind of lax when it comes to opening mail.

    Anyways, I read the pamphlet about the jury duty process. The first line was about how important jury duty was to the functioning of the justice system: how serving on a jury is the underpinning of our legal system. The pamphlet then went on to say that employers could not refuse to release employees for jury duty; however, it also stated that employers are not required to pay your wages while you are serving. I can understand that since it is not their fault that you have been called up. But guess what? The government, and the justice system, also do not cover your lost wages. WTF? The ***holes tell you how important it is to serve and then turn the act of serving into a financial burden!

    I like how the justice system works. The judges get paid. The lawyers get paid. The accused gets "paid" with access to a fair trial by his "peers". The only one who doesn't get paid is the person "upon which the whole system is based":the jurist. I can tell you. I was pissed off when I read that. I am coerced, by force of law, to lose money and not be able to pay my bills, so I can sit in judgement of some scumbag who is probably guilty anyway. But I, as a jurist, am the most important part of the system. What a f***ing farce. I was glad when they cancelled the call up, because it saved me from having to make myself look like a racist in order to get out of serving.

    If jury duty is so important to the system then there should be a law to protect serving members from financial loss. The government should cover the cost of lost wages or they should make it a requirement that the employer has to maintain the employee's wages. In other words, the government should be protecting the jurist's financial interests, not their own or those of corporations.
     
  8. MichaelBA

    MichaelBA Supporting Actor

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    Oh Micah, never EVER do that! Don't EVER listen to those jerks who hate the American system of law and order!

    By the way, I'm telling your trustyworthy, law-abiding neighbors the next time you're out of the house and totally preoccupied serving on a jury.
     
  9. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    But that is the very problem. Jurors are not allowed to make any presumption of guilt in a criminal case. So it is not the job of Jurors to make a "best guess" as to the guilt or innocence of the accused based on "past performance" or probability. This isn't "The Weakest Link." They are there only to settle disputed facts of the current case. They are there to determine, in a criminal case, whether the state has met the necessary burden of proof to find someone guilty in the case at hand. Whether the accused is guilty of other crimes in the past has no bearing on whether the state has met its burden for the case at hand.

    In criminal cases, the only presumption allowed is the presumption of innocence. Jurors are there only to decide the facts of the current case, not to determine application of the law.
     
  10. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    WHAT?! YOU TOLD ME YOU DO THAT, YOU GOON! I'll get you DE-BARRED!

    [​IMG]

    MC
     
  11. MichaelBA

    MichaelBA Supporting Actor

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    Shvayg, Micah! Farmach dos moyl!

    Farshtaist?
     
  12. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    Goes in tight.



    MC
     
  13. Carl Miller

    Carl Miller Screenwriter

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    I served on a jury once, for a stolen car case. I was an alternate juror, so I got to observe the trial, but not participate in the decision.

    It was an interesting experience, but I was amazed at how much time was actually wasted. Judges and lawyers were frequently late, lawyers and DA had other appointments that forced our trial to stop and start, stop and start.

    It was four days of wating for lawyers to show up, going into court, recessing, going back into the courtroom, leaving, going, coming and all that crap.

    The trial covered 5 days, but the actual time in court was less than 4 hours total...And to top it off, I spent 6 hours alone in a room while the jurors deliberated the case.
     
  14. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I've never been called for jury duty -- I actually want to do it, to see what it's like. I expect it to happen in the next year, too. I received a Juror Survey from my town early this year. So they know I'm out here and eligible.

    I don't know how it is here in the US, but I suspect it's the same. Which I find a poor situation. A citizen shouldn't be financially penalized for fulfilling their civic duty. I imagine most large corporations are like the for which I work: jury duty is paid time off. But those who work retail or other low-wage, hourly jobs are the ones most likely to be hurt by jury duty and can least afford it.
     
  15. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    It's also your responsibility as a citizen to be a juror, once in a while. Anyone that has always skipped jury duty simply because they didn't want to go has no right to complain about any verdict.

    There may be some flaw or glitch that causes you to be called too often, and if so, that should certainly be fixed. But clearly part of the problem is the rest of your fellow citizens. If they held up their end, you wouldn't be summoned as much. The next time they admit to their contempt of court you should berate them as the cause of your troubles and ask why They Hate America. You can remind them that one right they don't have is the right not to be occasionally inconvenienced to do their civic duty.

    Of course there are problems with the jury system, although some counties are worse than others. Fixing these would give people less of an excuse to skip out. But then, some solutions would require, you know, spending money. Maybe if everyone was compelled to do their duty, there would be the political will to fix the problems.
     
  16. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    But human nature being what it is, even those of us who honestly try to judge the case purely on the facts presented in the trial may still be subconciously misled by our preceptions of the defendent. Yes, we're SUPPOSE to be impartial, but how many of us can actually remain that way while judging a case?
     
  17. Nathan*W

    Nathan*W Screenwriter

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    Due to my job, I am exempt from jury service. So, I've never even been called.
     
  18. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    I think my dad told me once that the employer or government will pay you up to a certain wage, maybe no more than $15/hour or so.
     
  19. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    ...Ah, hello? And your job is... WHAT EXACTLY? (And, where do I send my application?)

    MC
     
  20. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Micah, he could tell you, but then he'd have to kill you. [​IMG]
     

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