Juror No. 49 Is Thanked And Excused

I have to imagine that Judge Ronald Rubin of Rockville, Maryland, presiding over an otherwise-unremarkable auto collision case might have got just a little bit intimidated for a moment or two this week. But it sounds like he didn’t let it show and got the “fair and impartial” patter down anyway. Good show, Judge Rubin. And the Chief set a good example for the rest of us by not ducking the obviously-inconvenient-for-him-too summons to jury duty.

I bet he’d have really benefited from the experience of serving. If the lawyers had enough nerve to keep him on the panel. Plus, it was a six-member panel and when you’re number 49, both sides are going to run out of peremptory challenges before you’re going to get on the panel anyway.

 

Burt LikkoBurt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California and the managing editor of Ordinary Times. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.

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12 thoughts on “Juror No. 49 Is Thanked And Excused

  1. The other day I was inspired to look up whatever happened to the serial killer on whose jury I was a candidate to serve.

    Still hasn’t been executed (he was sentenced in 2003). Interesting, during a prison transport, there was an accident where one of the guards was killed. If the SK had escaped, they could have made a TV show with a gruff US Marshall on the hunt for him.

    Instead, he was just injured.

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  2. I had jury duty just this last Tuesday! (I was trying to figure out how to make a “no politics” version of the story for the Weekend! post.)

    I didn’t get seated but it wasn’t because the judge and I argued about jury nullification this time.

    Other jurors had big problems with the concept of the 5th Amendment (“would it bias you against the defendant if she didn’t tell her version of the story?” “well, I just know that if *I* were on trial, *I* would want to tell my version of the story!” and so on.)

    The defendant was a young African-American woman and, out of the 18 of us, 17 were White. The one African-American of the 18 was also a woman and… she didn’t make the jury.

    There was a single charge of child abuse. I wondered what the hell was wrong with the prosecution that they couldn’t put together a decent deal for a *SINGLE* count. (They didn’t say “aggravated” or anything. It wasn’t multiple counts.)

    The Prosecutor was awful. The defense lawyers were awful. The judge was pretty good.

    The one question I was asked was about mistakes parents might make and I pointed out, honestly, that while I did get a handful of whuppins that I didn’t deserve, I missed out on a hell of a lot more whuppins that I did deserve.

    Anyway, as I said, I didn’t get seated. They said they’d leave me alone for at least a year.

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  3. Whenever I get a jury duty call, I’m always struck by three things:

    1) How professional and hard working the judge is. The whole situation is a turd sandwich for just about everybody, and the judges are always working overtime to be fair and helpful to everybody when they could just as easily tell people to STFU and deal with it.

    2) How hard people who have no good reason to avoid jury duty try to avoid jury duty. Seriously, I don’t want to be there either, but I’m not a long haul trucker or a farmer in the middle of harvest, so why don’t we suck it up and let people who have real problems take the life boats?

    3) How incredibly wasteful the whole process is in terms of time and manpower. I don’t know what percentage of the people brought in are actually empaneled on a jury, but it seems extraordinarily small. A factory manager that bought piles of raw material and threw away 90% of it during every manufacturing run even after having over a century to tweak the system would be dragged out and shot.

    And yet it’s important that most of us show up in person and wait all day to answer a question like, “What do you do for a living?” that will send us packing. Surely there’s way for a legal apparatus that divines truth and sits in judgment of our citizens to learn where I work without me showing up in person to tell them. Is this really the best we can do, or is this just another example of what happens when people are asked to use somebody else’s resources efficiently?

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    • Prosecutors, judges and public defenders are all always incredibly overworked, and expensive to the public fisc. Deciding which cases (civil and criminal) get tried in the very small amount of courtroom space and time available is a very complex dance between those three groups and civil litigants who are also kicking on the courtroom door.

      Jurors, by contrast, are essentially free. They get paid maybe $10-15 per day. Call ’em in and throw ’em out; nobody cares. This is why jurors get used as settlement threats and get to sit around all day. No one gets accused of wasting a resource that’s free, after all.

      Until, of course, judges and legislators got tired of the screaming from their abused citizens. This is why every county (many? some?) in California, including Los Angeles, have gone to the one-day, one-trial rule for jury service.

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        • It always seemed to me that skipping the $15 a day and putting it into a fund to compensate jurors who are stuck on much longer cases more generously would be a good policy. The $15 a day pays for transportation/parking, but it amounts to very little over a 3 day trial. The last trial I was almost put on was expected to go 4 weeks, which is a pretty serious situation for a lot of people. Having an “insurance” fund to make sure those people don’t get totally hosed seems like it would be a better use of that small pool of money.

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    • I was wondering that too, and my first assumption was Yes, but then I couldn’t really figure out a reason why.

      Oh, the technical answer is, regardless, legally, no supreme court justice has to recluse themselves, under any circumstances.

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  4. Burt this is way off topic but do you have any plans to discuss the Rodriquez v. United States decision from SCOTUS? I’m happy with the decision but IASNAL (I am soooo not a lawyer) and it seems to contradict or conflict with Illinois v Caballes

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