Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Joys of Jury Duty

Sorry for my abscence yesterday - I was called into jury duty. Fortuntely, it was a civil trial, and I was able to be selected, sit through the trial, and render a verdict in a single day.

A few quick thoughts:
  • Law is a very human endeavor. Which means the best result isn't always the one you get once both sides and the jury have had their say.
  • That said - I would rather trust my life to a jury than just a single judge. I'm not sure about my livelihood, though.
  • A good lawyer can still screw up.
  • The judge, the bailiff, and the court staff were excellent. They were friendly, helpful, and did all that they could to make jury duty as painless as possible. The judge in particular went to great lengths to keep us informed as to what was happening and what it meant.
  • I'm also glad no one can make me do it again for two years.
The process was interesting. The judge gives the jury a set of instructions, basically giving a rundown of what the juror's duties are and how the proceedings will unfold. Later, before closing arguments are made, the judge gives additional instructions, mainly consisting of quotations of relevant law. As I understand it, the lawyers make suggestions and get some input, but the judge makes the final decision as to what makes it into the jury instructions.

In a Utah civil trial, there are eight people on a jury, and only six of the eight have to agree to a verdict. I was a holdout - but it didn't matter. Six agreed, and the verdict was made.

I do have to say - seeing the law at work was an interesting process. Civil trials aren't discussed very often, but you and I have a better chance of being involved in a civil case than a criminal one. It reinforced my overall faith in the courts - and made me a little more nervous about trials in civil cases.


At 2:45 PM, Blogger j.m. said...

Um... so, I still don't know what the trial was about. Gimme the details, man.

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

I served on a jury a few years back. Criminal case, but we finished it all in the same day. It was quite clear-cut.

The jury deliberations lasted about 5 minutes. Long enough to choose one guy to be the chairman, and then find out that we unanimously agreed..."guilty as charged!"

I agree with Tyler that it was an excellent lesson in our own judicial system.

P.S. It was nothing like TV!

At 8:19 PM, Blogger The Niem said...

Nothing Like TV!?!


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