Well, yesterday I reported for Jury Duty, good citizen that I am. I must admit, I was actually eager to get seated on the jury. I thought it could be a good experience. I was expecting that it would be something short, but it turned out to be for a medical malpractice case, something that would probably take a full 5 days this week.
It sounded like it involved flesh-eating bacteria and a 37 year old man who died within 2 days of seeing the doctor. At least, that's what I could glean from Voir Dire (the questioning of the jury by the judge and attorneys).
As a civil case, only 7 jurors would be seated (6 plus one alternate). There were 55 jurors called. It seemed unlikely I'd make it. Then again, I've never seen a jury VD before, just read them in transcripts (and usually I skipped them because they were relevant).
At first, it seemed like they'd be seated rather quickly. Almost all of the jurors were deemed acceptable to all involved. Then one drops out. Then another. Then one asks to be excused. Pretty soon we're halfway down the list. The plaintiff's attorney dismisses a republican state house aide. No doubt why. Someone else who was a nurse who said that he had been involved in depositions in many "frivolous" suits against his hospital. Later, he denies he used that word but still says he thought that suits were driving up costs and were a problem. So he's gone by plaintiff's peremptory (without cause or explanation kind of challenge).
Finally, surprisingly, my name is called. I go up and sit in the box. Juror number 5 I would be. The judge first asks if I heard all the previous questions and asked if I had anything to say. I said no, forgetting that one of the questions was about professional qualifications. I also figured they'd just read my questionaire. So the judge gently reminds me of that and I tell him I'm a lawyer. I tell him my background. I fill in more details for the attorneys. The judge asked me about my kids and child care. He wants to make sure there will be no problems there. I assure him there won't be.
So no one challenges me for cause. There is none, I've given none. Ok, so I want to be on the jury, though I know it will be a big wrench in my week. Then, plaintiff's attorney signs off - no peremptory. Defendant's attorney. "Thank you, Mr X." So I'm gone. Peremptory. I guess I was not terribly surprised. Still, it looked like I could almost have been seated. On the way out as I walked past the defense table, I asked the defense attorney, jokingly, if he had something against lawyers. He smiled. Apparently so, when it comes to jurors.
I really had no bias one way or the other. I would have full evaluated the evidence and tried to come to the correct conclusion. Maybe that was the problem. Or maybe there is something else at work. Maybe lawyers just don't like other lawyers on juries. I couldn't say. I'd be curious to talk to that lawyer later on and ask him. Maybe I'll even do that, though I don't remember the names and probably don't have an easy way to look them up right now, either. Oh well.
It was an interesting experience. Maybe one of these years I'll actually get seated on a jury.
4 years ago