Monday, July 14, 2008

The decider, now decided, done deciding.

Sequestration avoided.

Your honor, we the jury find the defendant guilty!


It's all over.

So now I can tell you all about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And please don't think that I take what we did lightly, as a person's life is going to be fairly significantly altered for a bit here, but still- I can't help thinking that I want the past four weekdays of my life back.

Lamest jury trial ever. And I watch Law & Order a LOT- I should know.

I just finished sitting on a jury for FOUR DAYS for 3rd-degree burglary. That's it. No murder, no gun play, no exposing one's genitalia in public. Not so much as a speck of public drunkenness.
The dude stole a laptop, the dude exercised his American right to a trial by jury. Ta-da!

The jury selection process for this MAJOR crime took all day Wednesday and almost all day Thursday. They asked us questions like:
"Have you or anyone close to you ever committed a crime?" (Yup. Not telling y'all about the pantsless debacle with the acrobats and the scooters and the "accident". Well, not today anyways.)
"Are you, or is anyone close to you involved in/employed in the legal field?" (Nope. Not unless you count my uncle who's a bikini inspector.)
"Have you or anyone close to you ever had a bad experience with the police?" (Um, I think it's best to say "no" here. Officer Jellyfinger knows what he did wrong. Oh yes- he knows...)
"Do you believe that the police can make mistakes?" (We all said yes. Very quickly.)
"Are you more of a 'big picture' person, or are you more detail-oriented?" (This is where I mentioned that I pay little or no attention to details. Ever. And they still picked me.)
"Do you enjoy working with others or do you prefer to work alone?" (And here is where I mentioned my control-freakishness and unwillingness to share my toys. They still picked me.)
They asked approximately 36 of us the same questions over and over and over and over...

Almost. Two. Days. Of. This.
And the waiting. The WAITING!

Once we were picked, we were told to report at 8:45 a.m. each day of the trial in order to be ready for the trial to start promptly at 9:00. Friday we started at approximately 9:45, and Today we started at 9:30. Every time we were told "five minutes", it meant "45 minutes."

Forty five minutes of waiting, 45 minutes of the trial, 20 minutes of waiting, 30 minutes of the trial. 15 minute "break", then wait, no- never mind. It's nearly lunch time, so let's just go ahead and break for lunch. We'll see you back here at 1:30 (1 hour, forty-five minute lunch).
1:30 arrives.
Then 1:45.
Then 2:00.
Then 2:15.
2:35 the court clerk comes knocking. "Are you guys ready?" All we can think is, "Are you fucking kidding?"
At 3:15 we take another 15-minute "break".
At 3:50 we resume.
4:30- time to go home.

The trial itself was boring- a few "objection, your honor's" here, a few "may we approach the bench's" there, but no big surprises.
He basically got caught red-handed stealing a laptop from a business. There was a ton of evidence against him, the owner of the building watched him go in the building after hours, and the cops caught him a quarter of a mile away.

But, for whatever reason he felt he was "not guilty", hence the trial.

My fellow jurors were a pretty good lot overall. The one holdout during deliberations was someone who hadn't really paid attention during the trial, so they were asking annoying questions and were trying to question the State's evidence, which was pretty much rock solid.
Note: If you are a juror, and you are going to zone out during the trial, or if you are "not understanding" the blatantly blatant obviously obvious crime set before you, get out of the jury however you have to, because your fellow jurors may start plotting your grisly death as the prospect of getting sequestered draws nearer.
One older (63-ish) female juror kept hitting on the young male juror that I (in my brain) referred to as "Sir Sexypants", which was hilarious. She was kidding, but I think she was just vocalizing what the rest of the lady-folk in the room were thinking. And fantasizing. And getting a little sweaty about.
We had a lot of time on our hands, cut us some slack.

Today, by the time we went to lunch the trial had concluded. As we had not yet deliberated, we were escorted to lunch through the streets of downtown St. Paul by two armed deputies. One poor juror had to go to the ladies' room during lunch, and she had to be escorted there by one of the deputies, who stood vigilantly outside of the door while she did her business. I decided it would be best to hold it.

Deliberations took a little over an hour. Eleven of us walked into the room knowing our decision already as it was SO FREAKING OBVIOUS THE DUDE TOOK THE LAPTOP. DUDE, WE KNOW YOU TOOK THE LAPTOP. SERIOUSLY. DUDE, JUST OWN IT, O.K?
But eleven isn't twelve, and so we sat and tried to figure out why this particular juror could not see something so very (here's that word again) obvious that a four year-old could figure it out. I think they just liked being "the decider". I think they needed the power trip. Had we been sequestered, all eleven of our fuses were so short that I think they would have had a power trip up their behind for holding out.

But they didn't, the verdict was "guilty" and balance is once again restored in the world.

The end.

I can't get called again for four years. Next time this happens I'm telling them that I'm currently being treated for bipolar disorder, anger-management issues, narcolepsy, a bad back, incontinence, a herniated vagina, and a prescription painkiller addiction.

That might get me out of it.
Oh, and I just googled the defendant, and now I think I see why such a big deal was made of what was such a "small crime". The guy has a record several miles long, including LOTS of stolen computers, brandishing a weapon at an officer and many other break-ins.
They say his theft totals are in the $300,000 range. One officer called him a "very prolific burglar".

Well then.

Makes sense.
I guess I don't feel too bad for him anymore.


Suze said...

Jury duty is never like tv shows. I, for one, was very disappointed that the trial lawyers looked more like Perry Mason then any of the people on "Law & Order". Bleh!

Gwen said...

What was his defense? If he said he wasn't there, what was his alibi?

I also googled the defendant the last time I had jury duty. The results made it clear why the court wouldn't let us jurors leave our little room until all of his relatives/friends/homeys left the building. And then we were escorted to our cars. Be glad you had boring.

Moe Wanchuk said...

1.)No Offense Whiskey....but I told you...when the judge hit the just stand up and yell "GUILTY!"

2.)How do you get a herniated vagina? (My guess is that my wife will never have one, caused by me)

Ghost Dansing said...

i feel so good

McGone said...

Every time someone said "may we approach the bench" I would have stood up and said "Woo! I LOVE that part! Do 'Objection' next!"

I figure that by the time I started shouting for "Freebird" they would have released me of my duty.

Pants said...

I'm obsessed with Law & Order...jury duty would surely be a disappointment.

Herniated vagina? I'm going to hang on to that excuse for when I return to internet dating.

Katrin said...

At least it's over, right? Did you knit something?

Jon said...

I had jury duty a couple months ago, but I didn't get picked for a trial. I guess the system really does work.

I find you Guilty... of being awesome.

3carnations said...

You've made the streets safer. Thanks. :)

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Good for you for doing your civic duty. I'm still on call for jury, civil jury duty damn it.

Dr Zibbs said...

Why didn't you just get out of it by handing them a link to this blog?

diatribes and dish said...

you pretty much summed up our legal system, hours upon hours of tedium and bureaucracy for one moment of excitement. welcome to my professional life.

CDP said...

OK, so maybe I've changed my mind and I don't want to serve on a jury.

L Sass said...

You are the kind of sensible, big-picture, non-toy-sharing juror I'd want on my case if I was framed for a not so obvious crime!

Mad Woman said...

I am hereby dreading the day I get called for jury duty. Although here in the land of the Canuck, our lawyers have to wear robes and wigs in court! Weeeee!

gorillabuns said...

When I was on jury duty, I told them I had committed a crime, a crime had been committed against me, I was pregnant and I believe people are guilty before proven innocent.

They still picked me for the jury.

T said...

Kind of a dull one. Less SVU than I was hoping. Still, 300K is some serious thievery.

domboy said...

I guess it's better than something awful happening. I'm bitterly disappointed all the same.

kirby said...

That's the one thing I remember from high school civics class. If you are innocent, ask for trial by judge. If you're guilty, ask for a jury. Let me tell you, that little bit of info has saved my bacon many a time.

Tanya Kristine said...

i was on federal jury for 6 weeks and LOVED IT! course when you're on federal jury you're treated like royalty. you have your own jury room where we brought snacks and games and played and read and napped and had almost every thursday was grand. superior court? sucks.

LittlePea said...

I thought there would be a,"after that we all got drunk," in there somewhere.

Lollie said...

WHAT?! No shooting on the courtroom steps? Crap, I got all wound up for nothing.

P to the S: Make super-tight friends with a cop in the next four years, I hear that gets you out of the mix right quick.

minijonb said...

better to be a very prolific blogger than a very prolific burglar, that's what i always say.

Bubs said...

Here's the deal with jury trials, at least here in Cook County, Illinois, and especially for no-brainer cases like the one you describe.

If you have a reasonable defense, or the state has a weak case, you go for a bench trial because a judge will cut right through the bullshit. If you are guilty as sin, and your prior record precludes any chance of a plea agreement, you go for a jury trial and pray that you get a jury loaded with some idiots like the one you describe. You've got a much better chance baffling some stupid or inattentive jurors with bullshit. You've got a much better chance of a not guilty or at least a mistrial with a jury.

Thanks for doing your civic ducty and turning it into an entertaining story for the rest of us

Letty Cruz said...

DAMN, here I saw 4 unread posts on my reader and was drooling at the prospect of murder, mob mayhem, and a runaway jury! Oh well, so to the laptop-napper I say: ROT in the pen, scoundrel!

Amaya said...

Yay! It's over. And I'm so glad you didn't get a scary trial. When I had to go last year it was for a man who was charged with the "intent" to sell marijuana. I wanted to say "Are you fucking kidding me? Just make it legal already!" He was selling a fucking dime bag for god's sake! So needless to say, I didn't lose sleep over the outcome of the trial. I'm glad you didn't either.

Angela said...

That level of voir dire is done solely to pad the pockets of the attorneys. I promise you. In any decently run courtroom, those voir dire questions are given to you on a questionnaire that you can take home an answer. The in-person questioning should be saved for more specific, detailed questioning. Sounds like Hennepin County court, though, eh? :)

Here's some jury research for you: The least trustworthy of witnesses (other than perhaps gang members) is COPS. People know that many cops are willing to lie to get a conviction if they're convinced the defendant is guilty. The ends justify the means sort of thing.

Former Trial Consultant

Miss Awesome said...

Ugh...I've been lucky to never have to do jury duty. Ha, I'm so gonna get a summons tomorrow now that I said that.

gunfighter1 said...


In my tweleve years of federal law enforcement, I have never. Ever. Lied or padded my testimony.

Next time you are in a jury pool, tell them that you prefer to date cops.