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Jury Duty

Jury BoxThis has been an unpredictable (uncertain) week for me so far, mostly because I am on jury duty. A jury is a group of people (usually 12 in the United States) who decide whether someone is guilty or innocent in a court case. If someone commits a crime, they may have to go to trial, meaning to go in front of a judge and defend themselves. In most cases in the U.S., the decision belongs not to the judge, but to the jury. To be a juror (someone who sits on or who is a member of a jury), you need to be a U.S. citizen, over 18 years old, and able to speak and understand English. There is no test to determine your English level, however, at least not here in California. That is decided by the judge, which is a strange way to make such an important decision, but that’s the current system.

Potential jurors are chosen at random from the citizens of an area, although you are normally only called once every 12 months, usually less (some people are never called for jury duty). I have been called for jury duty once before, about two years ago. Here in Los Angeles, you are sent a letter – called a jury summons – with a special number to call. For one week, you must call the number each evening. If the court needs jurors for the next day, then you are required to go to the courthouse (the place where trials take place) and report for duty. You are put into a smaller group, and when the judge needs jurors, he or she will ask that group to come into his or her courtroom (the room in the courthouse where the trial is).

Today is Wednesday, and so far I have not been asked to report for duty. I have two more days before my on call service is over. (To be on call means that you must be available to do something when you are called or notified.) I won’t know until tonight whether I have to go tomorrow. If I do, I’ll let you know what happens!

~Jeff

8 Responses to “Jury Duty”

  1. heydays Says:

    It is really good for me to hear the real voice of a jury here as Jury system will be officially established in Japan next year (May, 2009). Recently, there are many views/opinions about starting Jury system in Japan, most popular ones are related to the question – “What do you think if you are chosen to be a juror?”. Hmmm, I have to think a lot of things to have the answer for this question.
    Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience on Jury Duty!

  2. Candy Says:

    Hey, Jeff
    I am very curious about to be a juror.
    You mean if you are a critizen in the U.S. and over 18 years old that you will have a chance to be a juror?
    You don’t need to have background of the law?
    I havn’t heard this before. Thanks for telling us about this news.
    it’s interesting.

    Have a good day~

  3. Gulls Says:

    The jury Duty in Belgium.

    The citizen should be between 30 and 60 years old and be able to read and write,
    and registered in the electoral lists (Voting is obligatory in Belgium).
    They must also be in possession of civil and political rights.

    Priests, soldiers in active service, magistrates and clerks,
    members of parliament and some other categories of people are immediately removed from the list.

    Years ago I stood on the list, but I’m never called.

    Someone with a lot of time and interest can find more on this website.

    http://www.cairn.info/revue-internationale-de-droit-penal-2001-1-page-27.htm

  4. emiliano Says:

    I don’t know what to say about jury and that way of doing justice, as we have some ensays with this new form of judging people after we have domocracy.
    As I remember it was a disaster, and some of the procedures have to be repeated as they were very unjust.
    So, all I may desire you Jeff is not to be called at all.
    But I like these judgements in movies or books, oh yes, but not in real life.
    One of the great films that I could remember was “12 men without pity” with Henry Fonda an G.H. Robinsson….., it was memorable many years ago.
    Please, Jeff, keep us informed, may be you have to act like H.Fonda in the film.

  5. emiliano Says:

    I have some mistakes as ever, sorry, the title was 12 angry men, and the actor J.L. Cob instead of G.H. Robinsson, the only certain is that first actor was the great
    Henry Fonda, I like him very much also the film.
    As I was hesitating I have to look for it in google, the best tool for these matters.

  6. Nathalie Says:

    I live in Qu├ębec, Canada. In 1999 I was chosen to be on jury duty. It was for a murder. The man was found guilty of murdering his ex-wife. He was sentenced to 25 years but he got free after 4 years.
    I have no knowledge in law, this is a strange world! The experience was ok, but I’m disappointed about the justice, it’s difficult to trust the system.

  7. Gulls Says:

    A politically charged trial on corruption.

    Attorney : Is it true that you have adopted ten thousand dollar to cover up the truth?

    The witness looked away through the window as if he had heard nothing.

    Judge : Sir, do you want to answer the question of the Attorney.

    The witness said smilingly : Oh, do not blame me Your Honor, I thought that the question was addressed to you.

  8. schlieman Says:

    What if you were a criminal, will you be called to perform the jury duty years after you got out of jail?
    Please keep us posted on the case. Thanks.