Blue Cat Reflects on Jury Duty

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Blue Cat’s scribe was called to jury duty last week and Blue Cat wishes he could have gone – it sounded really exciting. For those of you not in the United States, jury duty is one of the three things that is required of US citizens (besides paying taxes and registering (if you’re a male human) for the selective service). That’s because everyone accused of a crime or who has a civil complaint against someone is entitled to a trial by jury. And you can’t have that if there aren’t any jurors…

  

So what happens when you get called for jury duty? Well, you show up and turn in a form and then fill out an interesting questionnaire. With questions like “What is your occupation?” and “What do you watch on TV?” (Why do they ask that? Blue Cat doesn’t know. Maybe some defense lawyers don’t trust folks who watch “Once Upon a Time” like Blue Cat does.)

Then a real judge talked with everyone to explain how important helping with juries was to the justice system. He also let on that he gets jury duty summons’ too – and that his first thought (like Blue Cat’s) was “Wait – I’m too busy for this!” (He had his own cases to try that day.) But he did it anyway, even though he probably could have gotten out of it. It made the process seem both fairer and more important.

Then there was a video that explained the whole process. Blue Cat’s scribe said it was kind of boring. But informative!

Then the judges’ clerks came to take people to their courtrooms for jury selection. That process seemed pretty random – and last week they took 30 people for each of 6 cases. Blue Cat thinks that they had a lot of felony cases to try, since felony cases require 12 jurors. (Simple civil cases take only 3, while complicated civil cases and misdemeanor cases require 6.) They didn’t pick Blue Cat’s scribe for any of the panels, and after another hour they sent him (and the others that remained) home. 

Blue Cat doesn’t know what happens after that, although the video said that the attorneys decide who will be on the jury, some extras are chosen “just-in-case,” and then the trial starts. In Colorado trials average 3 days in length, so jury members get to come back until it’s done. Colorado only pays $50 per day to jurors after the third day, which is pretty low. (Blue Cat will give his opinion on the minimum wage sometime soon…)

So jury duty is both interesting and important. Have you every been on a jury? Let us know – and Blue Cat will send you a prize as a reward if you have.

(c) William P Doyle, Jr. 2016. All Rights Reserved

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