Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Jury Duty: Day 3

I was part of another voir dire panel today. This time 60 of us were questioned for more than two hours.

For a murder trial.

Again, the questions were personal -- "Has anyone in your family ever been a victim of a violent crime?" "Do you own guns? What do you use them for?" "Have you ever gotten into an argument with a stranger?" "Did you drive downtown for jury duty today? Do you ever feel nervous driving downtown?" and "Do you have any bumper stickers on your car?" (WTF?)

They didn't ask if we ever watched "Law and Order."

The process was fascinating. My fellow jurors were in a talkative mood and spilled their guts (and prejudices) to the court. Sometimes I was shocked at what they said. Several men bragged about the fistfights they'd been in. The gun owners were downright cocky. One man said "You don't have no right to ask about guns" but the judge politely explained that they certainly did have that right.

If we wanted to give our answers privately we were asked to "approach the bench" but we quickly learned that doing that would prolong the process so most people didn't.

I noticed that the prosecutor tried to be charming and funny while the defense team was deadly serious and professional. I'm sure that was a calculated tactic by both sides.

No, I wasn't picked. But, for the record, I'm not afraid of driving downtown and I have three stickers on my car: Yarmuth for Congress, a Human Rights Campaign "equal" sign and a rainbow squiggle.

No comments: