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Was my judge in the wrong??

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Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby Fantasy GM » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:13 pm

Hey what's going on guys, it's been a little while since I've posted here...school's started back up and I've been a bit occupied. Anyways, I had a somewhat-scary experience in jury duty today and don't really know what happened.

I attend school in Boston and was summoned to Suffolk Superior Courthouse today for jury duty. For those of you who don't know, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts uses a "one day, one trial" system. I wasn't too worried because the common belief is that college students usually aren't selected to decide a trial. In fact, when I filled out the form in the jury room, one of the court officers saw that I was a student and suggested I let the judge know I'm a full-time student and I would probably be excused. So far, so good. ;-D

Within two hours (after they showed us a video and a judge talked to all the 200+ jurors on how the process works), I was escorted to a court room with close to 100 other potential jurors. The judge for the case enters, explains how "voir dire" - the selecting of jurors - works. After that, she outlines the case. We were dealing with...first-degree murder! :-o The judge then says the trial will take an estimated three weeks (most cases are usually a week at the most). I'm a little nervous, but feeling good...it's not likely a judge and the lawyers would pick a college student to serve a THREE-WEEK TRIAL because it would completely ruin their semester, right? Well, the judge then says that she doesn't consider the excuse of someone being in college/school as valid (same goes for work, home, etc.). :-t

Eventually, it's my turn to speak with the judge. Because I've seen the judge ask the same question to several other people already, I know that the "Is there anything that would keep you from serving on the jury for this case?" question is coming up. Right before she gets to it, I explain (like the court officer suggested I do) that I am a full-time undergraduate student, I have tests/papers/projects within the next three weeks, and I would have serious trouble with my classes if I were to serve. Her response? "So...?" That threw me off a bit, but I persisted. I further explained that serving on a three-week case would cause tremendous stress on myself and my family because college costs are about $50,000 and there's no way I would be able to complete my 18 credits if I were to take three weeks off.

The judge FLIPS OUT, asking me, "So did you just pick a Friday so you can blow it off?" and, "Why did you pick a date where you knew you had all of these tests/papers/projects ?" I tried my best to nicely explain that: 1.)I am free TODAY, but not every day for entire three weeks, 2.) I didn't know what my current classes would assign way back in early July when I had to postpone my originally-scheduled jury duty and, 3.) that I'm a full-time student, which means I'm in school all year. She angrily says that I'm unavailable for this case, and that I must return to the jury room and immediately schedule another time to come back in the near future (as this wouldn't count as me doing my duty). :-t :-t

As the court officer in the room walks me out, he tells me, "Just go back to the room and hang out there." When I enter the jury room and find the court officer in the room, I begin to explain that I've been serving my "one day" so far of jury duty, the judge said I am "unavailable" for her case, and I'm not sure what the next step is. He immediately says, "Don't worry about it. I'll mark down that you get credit for the day for serving, I'll see you in three years." ;-D ;-D ;-D ;-D
A few other students who were in the same courtroom as me went through the same thing, though I think the judge lashed out at me more because I went after all of them. The court officer told us that, as we thought, college students usually don't end up serving on trials during the fall and spring due to the conflict with their studies. Soon after, everyone is dismissed from the courthouse and I go home.

My dad, who has practiced law for over 25 years, is livid with the judge's behavior. First, he considers the judge's conduct towards me, "very unprofessional and out of line," as she questioned my character and basically tried to force me onto the jury. He is considering writing to the courthouse about the judge's possible lack of professionalism. Secondly, he also feels that the judge should have been more aware of the fact that a three-week case is nearly impossible for a full-time college student since their semester (and all the tuition $$) would be for nothing. If the student had to serve for one day (like today...it's "one day, one trial") or a very short period, it's not really as big a deal.

What do you guys think? I'm not a law guy and don't know a whole lot about how this sort of thing operates, so your insight will really be interesting to read.
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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby Omaha Red Sox » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:25 pm

Sounds like she was very unreasonable to me. But I wouldn't dwell on it much. If your dad has pull, sure have him write a letter, but I'd leave it at that and chalk it up to her having a bad day. You're in the clear and it sounds like you handled it well. Hopefully the other students handled it professionally as well, even if they weren't treated as such.
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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby TheRock » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:38 pm

That sounds like a real bad day, and Imma let you finish. But Pearl Harbor day was one of the worst days of all time.
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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby AussieDodger » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:39 pm

TheRock wrote:That sounds like a real bad day, and Imma let you finish. But Pearl Harbor day was one of the worst days of all time.



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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby knapplc » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:40 pm

I have a job, it would be extremely inconvenient to me to be out of my job for three weeks, my cases would pile up, and much of my work would not be done by others. My wife would have a similar problem - very little of what she does could be done by another worker, and it would pile up.

How are your responsibilities as a student more important than my responsibilities at my job, or my wife's at hers, or the next person at theirs?

EDIT - I should mention that we both have time-sensitive jobs. State laws mandate that I do much of my work in certain time frames. The wife's job has monthly deadlines.
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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby Mookie4ever » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:42 pm

Here's the thing with judges. They are public servants and the good ones are most definitely serving the public. In 99% of the cases they are taking a big pay cut leaving private practice to take the bench and the working conditions and support are not what they are in private practice either. Plus they have to put up with a lot of crap. Some have it easy but in large part they are doing a public service by taking the bench.

There are some terrible judge out there. They get a lot of press and all judges get painted with the same brush. That's a shame. The bad judges are so public and have their mistakes and missteps highlighted. They should be removed quickly but still they should not be held to unreasonably high standards.

Some also get worn out but the job and end up bitter and pissed off. I can understand where they are coming from and sympathize with them.

Most judges that I have dealt with are amazing, intelligent, civic minded gentlemen and ladies. If they have a bad day I'm all for cutting them a break.
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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby TheRock » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:43 pm

knapplc wrote:I have a job, it would be extremely inconvenient to me to be out of my job for three weeks, my cases would pile up, and much of my work would not be done by others. My wife would have a similar problem - very little of what she does could be done by another worker, and it would pile up.

How are your responsibilities as a student more important than my responsibilities at my job, or my wife's at hers, or the next person at theirs?


Actually the case with most everyone. Which doesn't fill you with confidence if you're ever accused of something. You will be tried by a jury of 12 of your peers who couldn't find a way out of jury duty. :-o
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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby knapplc » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:48 pm

TheRock wrote:
knapplc wrote:I have a job, it would be extremely inconvenient to me to be out of my job for three weeks, my cases would pile up, and much of my work would not be done by others. My wife would have a similar problem - very little of what she does could be done by another worker, and it would pile up.

How are your responsibilities as a student more important than my responsibilities at my job, or my wife's at hers, or the next person at theirs?


Actually the case with most everyone. Which doesn't fill you with confidence if you're ever accused of something. You will be tried by a jury of 12 of your peers who couldn't find a way out of jury duty. :-o

Yes. But instead of using a hypothetical, I thought it might be easier to do a real-life scenario.
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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby Art Vandelay » Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:40 pm

It sounds like you got exactly what you were hoping for (one day spent at court, not selected for a trial) and are just salty because you thought the judge was rude and unprofessional. There are rude, unprofessional people working in all fields. I'd chalk it up as a best case scenario and not worry about it. It seems silly to be overly concerned when it didn't have a negative impact on you at all, other than hurting your feelings, or whatever.
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Re: Was my judge in the wrong??

Postby JTWood » Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:57 pm

TheRock wrote:That sounds like a real bad day, and Imma let you finish. But Pearl Harbor day was one of the worst days of all time.

ahhh, but it was a canned joke. :-b
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