You've Been Called For Jury Duty

I used to have a Law & Order trivia quiz on this this site called You've Been Called for Jury Duty (I took it down before the rm -r debacle because it was so old). The idea was to go through voir dire (i.e., the quiz) with the goal of gaining the jury, not avoiding it. The top 12 scorers got on the jury; there were anther 10-14 slots for alternates.

The idea behind the quiz was to put to use all the trivia facts I'd collected over the course of a couple years of watching seasons 4 and 5 on NBC and re-runs on A&E, discussing the show on the Law & Order Mailing List, and taking actual notes on every episode in seasons 1-5 (I still have them, believe it or not). That, and to highlight the fact that jury service was something to look forward to rather than something to avoid. How fascinating to hear all the evidence in a trial and try to determine the extent of guilt, if any, and possibly to determine the penalty! How enlightening (and possibly frustrating, I imagine) to see how other jurors reason, argue, and draw conclusions! Definitely more fun, as civic duties go, than filling out tax forms.

The enthusiasm I had for jury duty when I wrote the quiz in 1995 was still in evidence when I first got called, in San Francisco. I made it as far as voire dire for an asbestos injury trial but was disqualified (they didn't specify a reason, but it was probably one or more of the following: (1) they lost my jury questionnaire, (2) my father was an auto mechanic who'd worked with brake pads when I was a kid, (3) I sat under a pipe with exposed asbestos in my high school Spanish class for a year, or (4) I'd read A Civil Action—one of the defendents' attorneys seemed very worried about that).

I kept hoping I'd get called in Truckee; I was registered to vote in Nevada County and was always missing absentee ballot deadlines, and I wanted to participate in the community more. I finally did get a summons... days before I closed on the sale of my house there. By the time I was scheduled to report, I was no longer a resident.

Today my number came up in Philadelphia. After years of dying to be on a jury, after an entire year of being absolutely free to serve, they're summoning me to the courthouse. Now, when I'm breastfeeding a baby. (I've asked for a postponement for that reason.) I'm bummed that I can't serve, but right now the kid is more important than civic duty. I'm still a little nervous about child care when I do eventually get summoned again, but I really don't want to avoid service entirely—and not just because I find the prospect of sitting on a jury exciting. I worry that if no one wants to serve, justice will not be served. I don't want to leave jury duty to people who think that the LA Police Department framed O.J. for his wife's murder and little old ladies who have nothing better to do.

Posted by Lori in civics at 3:16 PM on March 1, 2005


Wow! That was the eighteen years that I have been registered to vote, and a licensed driver, I've only been summoned for jury duty once. Some people have all the luck!

Posted by: Josie [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2005 2:20 PM

Wait a minute. You think O.J. was guilty?

Posted by: Stephen at March 3, 2005 4:28 PM

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