The Artful Dodger wrote:So... last week, I was on call for jury duty and wasn't obligated to report all week. I was pretty happy about not having to show up and it got me thinking: do you think jury duty is pointless?
Yes. Very. Especially for drunk drivers, they should just put their old fella on a chopping black and hack it off.
A few years ago I got a letter asking me to do jury duty in New Zealand, when I live in Australia. My reply: "Are you paying for my airfare?" No answer.
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I think it'd be interesting to serve as long as you weren't chosen for a month-long murder trial or something, and as long as your employer paid you for jury service. I received my first jury summons last month (not quite sure how I had managed to never receive a notice in the previous 12+ years). On the form, one of the questions asked if you are the sole caretaker of a child under two during the hours of the court and if so, if it would be a hardship to find childcare. I am, and it would be, so I checked the box. A few days later I received notice that I was not exempt. I called in and asked why they ask the question if they ignore the answer and the lady told me that I also checked the box saying I was employed full time, and I couldn't possibly be the caretaker of a child during the day and work full time. She stopped just short of actually calling me a liar and accusing me of saying I had to take care of a kid just to get out of jury duty, but essentially said just that, which compelled me to explain--in the nicest way possible of course--that not everyone works 9:00 - 5:00, and it is actually possible to work 40+ hours a week and still take care of a child during the day.
It's so easy to dismiss a harsh sentence or an apparently lenient sentence as the product of some stupid judge and complain once again that judges, lawyers and the legal system have no sense of the reality that the comman man lives in. Then Madison will demand that Texas susceed and somebody will pull out a stupid Shakespeare quote and think that they are brilliant. It that same sentence is handed down by a jury of your peers then you stop and think that there must be more to this than you realize. Or maybe better yet that there is a law that needs changing.
Nobody really cares about civil disputes but in criminal matter it is very important that justice be done and be seen to be done by your peers and not by a "system".
i had to report a few months back...sat around for like an hour and all 4 potential cases were dismissed. Judge gave us a tour of the court it was funny one case didnt go to trial because the state crime lab hadnt yet confirmed if the substance they found on the perp was marijuana...apparently 3 months wasn't enough...anything to drag out your hearing i guess
Jury duty is important. I don't like it when I hear people complain about getting a summons and then think of way to get out of it when they don't have a good reason. Sure most of the time you go, sit around for a few hours, and are told to go home and wish you never got called in the first place. But when there's a serious matter in front of a jury where an honest, intelligent effort is required that will alter the life of somebody, it's a duty to be taken seriously.
I guess I'll answer my own question... Jury duty is not pointless in and of itself, but I don't think it's more effective in getting justice done than what the general public thinks. The process of compulsory duty trivializes it as well.
The problem I have with jury duty is that no matter how hard they try, most people don't know how to make decisions without some sort of bias. A judge also has his/her biases, but they have the experience of taking what's presented in court and make an informed decision without an apparent bias. Sure, there's a thorough screening and training process to find the most seemingly open-minded jurors, but like with any job, you don't know how they'll perform when they're actually on the case. Personally, I dread jury duty not because I think it's a waste of time, but because 1) the responsibility is a really big ask and 2) what if you were deliberating amongst jurors who really were comprised of a few incompetent bottlers. I'm not sure how it ever came to pass that society thinks that the average person can make difficult legal decisions, but there you go.
Then, there's the idea of "forced" jury duty. On my summons, it says I could be imprisoned if I didn't register by phone within 5 days of receiving it. What if I was out of town on business or vacation? I'm sure the court would understand why any response would be late, but it's still ridiculous to "threaten" some kind of punishment if by any unfortunate circumstance, I didn't respond promptly to registration.
...and then, there's stories like Dan's, which is all too common. Cases being dismissed because the lawyers pressed the judge for a decision or dragged because lab tests are late... or those assigned to cases who have to wait for hours before screening. Such a silly, inefficient process.