Back when Mel Gibson could credibly play a charming guy, he made a movie called "What Women Want," in which his character suddenly finds himself with the power to hear what women are thinking. You feel like that sometimes reading juror blogs.
If you could conduct voir dire by thought bubble, a twelve-person jury box might sound like this:
Juror No. 1 knits harder when the trial bothers her:
having stopped everything else i’m knitting (mike’s sweater, mommy’s socks, etc.,), i decided to raid my stash tuesday morning before jury duty and make something for me. so, i came up with these. seriously, i started them on tuesday. that’s what jury duty does to me. listening to crazy messed up testimony makes me a little nervous. so i knit like a fiend. i’m listening … i’m just knitting and going off somewhere else at the same time.
it makes it better.
but … i might have to give them away. testimony on thursday was SO messed UP. i have a feeling that every time i look at my pretty green socks, i’ll get sent right back to that day, and that victim, and remember (as hard as i try to forget) how many plum evil people there are in this world.
Juror No. 2, who happens to be reporter John Whiteside of the Houston Chronicle [update and correction: reader blogger, not reporter; see his kind comment], is irritated (Mark Bennett picked this up too):
Jury selection was infuriating. I couldn't believe how many people were spewing absolute crap about how they couldn't possible convict anyone based on evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt," even though the same people probably watch TV news about trial and decide who's guilty based on a three-minute news report. Obviously, they just didn't want to have to be on a jury. And I understand that - I didn't want to spend the last two days downtown in the courthouse - but too bad. You're a citizen of a country that provides an excellent system of justice compared to most of the world, this is your duty. Somebody has to do it. If you don't like it, move to a dictatorship where there are no trials. It left me very depressed about the state of our society.
Juror No. 3 is a thoughtful Buddhist:
The single greatest determinant of the success or failure of a community is the relative geography of its members. As a rule, the closer people live, work and exist to each other, the stronger their chances of creating and maintaining a live community. If one wants to understand why a community is or is not working, geography is the place to start.
The concept is so self-evident that it's forgettable: human beings are social creatures, and they will try to connect with whomever is around them. I saw a good example of this when recently called for jury duty: my group of 65 potential jurors convened over the course of 2 days, as the various lawyers questioned us. In the morning hours of the 1st day, most of the group were quiet and observatory, especially those (like myself) who had never been through the jury selection process before. But in the afternoon people were chatting with their neighbors, and by the 2nd day some new friendships had obviously been struck.
And No. 4 is a thoughtful Christian:
I got summoned for jury duty this morning, and as I was sitting there I started thinking about commen sense. (By the way, there were not any cases for the specific group I was in, so I was only there two hours.) They said we should decide using our own commen sense. This is also a technical term that I have been reading a lot about recently, specifically Scottish common sense realism. This viewpoint had a great effect on the church in the last two centuries and affects how we do theology and how we read the Bible. But as I was pondering common sense, it seems that a postmodern culture is drifting away from common sense: they recognize that everyone has an angle and a viewpoint. Therefore, common sense actually isn't all that common. So will the whole idea of a jury go away? In my thinking postmodernism doesn't mix real well with a jury system. Of course, postmodernism doesn't mesh real well with a justice system at all
I find myself in a rather ironic position over this fourth of July holiday. On the one hand tomorrow I will be celebrating living in a country where every person is free to practice his or her faith as their conscience sees fit. That right is guaranteed in our constitution. On the other hand I have been called for jury duty. As a Mennonite, I believe that I have no place in civil government. I am an ambassador for "another country". The Bible clearly tells me not to "entangle myself in the affairs of the world". The Bible also clearly commands me NOT to sit in judgment of another, nor to swear an oath.
I sent a letter to the Judge explaining these things, but was denied exemption. . . . So, the day after independence day, I will present myself to the court as required. I will however, still refuse to serve on a jury. I believe that is what God would have me do. I need to obey the law insofar as it does not conflict with the law of God, but I will not go further. If you happen to read this before the fifth, please pray that I might find favour with the court and that I would not be held in contempt of court by refusing to serve. I believe that this is my right...and regardless, this is what is right.
No. 6 has no patience for holdouts:
Had jury duty... got called on a case....GUILTY!!
long story short...bad neighborhood: yes, legal stop: yes, probable cause: yes (crack pipe fell on car floor while passenger stepping out of car), crack found: yes (on both sides of driver-left and right side), crack tested: yes
the juror next to me said not guilty cause it is possible that the guy didn't know the rock was in his car. "someone could have put it there"... dang lady...not everyone is an angle like you. She came around cause she wasn't going to change 6 other's minds.
No. 7 is disappointed:
I have to report to juvenile court. That's lame. I wanted a real court. How interesting can a child's case be? Probably some snotty dropout got caught with a few stems and seeds, or some spray paint. Yeah, I know what these kinds of kids are like. Predictable. I bet I already know how the case will go. I probably won't even have to pay attention. I'll tell the judge exactly that.
No. 8 is bored:
Oh, jury duty, you suck out loud!
*sigh* How the hell did someone like me wind up serving on a jury? I'm easily bored, disagreeable yet strangely apathetic, and I spent the entire day making rude comments, poking a cricket with my shoe and rolling my eyes whenever one of the (many) idiots in the jury pool said something stupid... which was often. Plus, I think one of the attorneys is an absolute moron.
Funny thing - the judge kept yawning really hugely and dozing off during the trial. I think the bailiff might have napped a little bit, too.
I hope to hell this trial is over quickly.
Juror No. 9 really likes Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie:
It's probably been a good two weeks since there was really fresh new news on Brad and Angelina. At one point, when I saw new pictures of them, I just rolled my eyes because even I was getting tired of the stalkerish non stop voyeurism on that family. With Oceans 13 and A Mighty Heart both out in June, I anticipated that month to be maximum exposure, but even I was overwhelmed! And you all know I love them, but there comes a point when you can only absorb so much Brad and Angelina to prevent ruining what you enjoy so much about being a fan of theirs. So as June came to a close and their movies were released and all their world premiere travels were documented, I knew it would then be nothing for a little in early July, and that has come to fruition. . . . I had Jury Duty today that was a complete waste of 5 1/2 hours of my life.
Juror No. 10 is shocked:
The lawyers on both sides took turns dismissing potential jurors. At one point, juror #2 wanted to know if he could ask the judge a question. The judge allowed it. He asked, "since these two men do not speak english and need interpreters, I wanted to know if I'm allowed to ask this..." The judge saw his hesitation and told him to go ahead and ask the question. The juror concluded, "are they illegal?"
Oh. My GOSH! You could just see the tension rise in that courtroom! Of course, being liberal California, the judge would not answer such a question and went ahead and shared ten minutes worth of gobbledy-gook about how the jurors are not to see such an assumption as "relevant" to this case. Frankly, I just tuned him out at that point.
O.K. Now you can call me a bigot. Call me intolerant. Call me an illegal alien basher.
I don't care!
What I see is a broken justice system.
If these two were illegal aliens,(which is probably most likely) the first thing done should have been immediate deportation! NOT take up the time of all of these people!!
I’m never serving on a jury again. It’s a small thing, sure, but damn right I’ll take it, it’s one less thing. In no way will I ever let my soul and intellect be shit upon by participating in our legal system, never, and no judge will ever allow me to be in a courtroom very long when it’s discovered who I am. . . .I’ll tell the judge right to his or her face I won’t follow instructions with manipulative deception, Machiavelli is one of my greatest heroes, and that I’m a great liar and actor who won’t have any trouble deliberately tying a jury up in hopeless knots just for hell of it, right after I have innovative sex with one or two jury members, that is. . . . I’ll never server on a jury, ever, American courtrooms have lost the right to make me, and I won’t lower myself by doing so. American jurisprudence may have no standards and ethics, but I do.
And Juror No. 12 had other things to think about:
After an incredibly boring day at jury duty in Waukegan today, I stopped by the Walgreens in Round Lake Beach on my way home to pick up a couple of pregnancy tests...
Her blog begins and ends with that entry. I hope things are going well.
(Photo by Shawn Haskell at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fpo/66063063/; license details there.)