Facing the Feds

Jury Duty. Just the mention of it makes some people cringe. I have had the fortune (or misfortune) to get called for jury duty at the Federal Courthouse in Philadelphia three times in the last six years.  The first time, I was called in for the first day and dismissed. The second time, my number was too high and I didn’t have to go in, just call every day for three days.

This time, I had to go in, even though my number was 184. There were at least 200 people in the Jury Room. They took 30, then 30 more, then 65. I was in the pool of 65 potential jurors. We were called in, sworn in, and the case was reviewed. Since it hasn’t gone to trial yet, I will not give the specifics of the case. It was basically the US District Attorney vs. a citizen charged with a crime.

During the Voir Dire process, we were asked at least 25 or 30 specific questions. Potential jurors had to answer in the affirmative if any of these questions, one at a time, affected their ability to serve on a jury. Examples were: Have you ever been the victim of a crime, or Do you or any member of your family work for the Federal government.

In the end, I was excused again. The jurors were chosen, 12 and two alternates, and told the trial would probably last a week. On the one hand, I have always wanted to serve on a jury just for the experience. I always thought that if for some reason I was ever accused of a serious crime, I would want some reasonably intelligent people serving on my jury. On the other hand, I have school work, lots of project work on the day job, and a family. I am too busy to serve on a jury.

Q:  Have you ever been on a jury? What was the experience like? Did you feel you were doing a public surface* by being a juror?

*Obscure reference to a Stephen King story. First one to name the reference gets a cyber-ride on the Harley. (Gals only, of course. Riding B**ch is definitely NOT on)


3 thoughts on “Facing the Feds

  1. I was called for jury duty here in Delaware 3 times in my life. First time, I was scheduled to take a vacation down Rehoboth Beach so I simply wrote a letter saying I had a place rented. Excused. Second time, was my honeymoon in Jamaica! Faxed my plane ticket. Excused. They got me shortly after my honeymoon, of course! So I went, brought a book, bottled water and a snack. They had two potential jurors with the same last name, one of which was me. They had the lady yelling the names hidden behind a small wall so how the hell was I supposed to hear my name called. Since there must have been 200+ people there. So in the end, this lady asks if anyone’s name hasn’t been called so I raise my hand. “You were called” she says. Well I responded that I must have not heard. End result…..Gives me a certificate for completion. Shows you how much they really care about “civil duty.” Good topic Chester!

  2. jstew4217 – thanks for sharing your experience. I have only been called for Feds, never state or local. Most of the folks in the pool never actually served either. I wonder if you CAN get a jury of your peers?

  3. Jen wins the cyber-Harley ride. She searched for the Stephen King short story collection “Different Seasons”.

    “Apt Pupil”
    Todd Bowden starts life as an innocent boy, but he discovers that his neighbour Arthur Denker is really Kurt Dussander a wanted war criminal. Todd blackmails Dussander, but not for money – for stories of the horrific things that happened during the war. Starting with animals, together they start a new wave of killing, but that only lasts a short time, and they progress to killing homeless people.

    The school counsellor discovers Todd’s secret life and threatens to expose his actions, but is murdered by Todd before he can. Finally cracking, Todd takes his gun and starts randomly shooting near the expressway, before being shot five hours later.

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