Jury duty

In New York, they get you sooner or later. So I’m on jury duty. What’s worse, in one way: it’s *grand* jury — a misnomer if ever there was one — and it lasts two weeks.

It’s all supposed to be super-secret of course, but I will no doubt end up writing sonmething of a general nature about it, without of course revealing any of the highly sensitive super-secret details of any individual cases.

I always used to disapprove of grand juries, because of the compelled testimony and the secrecy. But just yesterday another penny dropped:

About 98% of criminal cases in my town never go to trial. There’s no petit jury, like in all those wonderful movies , with rules of evidence and cross-examination. Nope. Nearly all cases are plea-bargained.

The plea-bargaining strategy is very clear in the material we get from the DA: six or seven different redundant and duplicative charges for one more or less bad act, for example.

This is all meant to scare the defendant so much that he will take a plea, whether he’s guilty or innocent. The assistant DA scores a point and his boss is happy, and the defendant goes upstate, which makes these desperate little towns, where prisons are the main employers, happy also. Or at least as happy as you can be if incarceration is the local industry.

So my little not-so-grand jury is in fact the only jury of his peers that 98% of our defendants will ever face.

Teaser: Most of my colleagues do not want to hear this.

More anon.

10 thoughts on “Jury duty

  1. I’ve been ignoring jury summonses for ages. So far they haven’t come and offered me a plea bargain for this particular crime. I will feign insanity when they do.

  2. “What do you think about the police? ”
    “I hate them.”
    “What do you think about landlords?”
    “I hate them.”

    “Thank you, Mr. O’Connor, you’re free to go.”

      • The true voir dire is gone

        The panel of prospective jurors once determined suitability of a fellow juror
        If challenged by council
        Like much else the sovereign jury has lost this right to
        That hang man’s ass hole buddy
        The state appointed judge

  3. There was a stretch where it seemed as if I was being called in for the jury pool every other month. I hadn’t voted since ’04, so I figured if I let my voter registration lapse, I’d be OK, but apparently not. Still, it’s been a few years since my last jury summons, which I’m totally cool with.

    Luckily, all the times I was called in, it was for service as a “petit juror” (French for “a very small juror”). During the voir dire, my “Get Out Of Jail Free Card” was always my negative answer to the question about whether or not I could trust the testimony of a police officer. My entirely-truthful answer was along the lines of “not a chance in Hell”.

  4. One thing I liked about grand jury is you could pretty much vote however you wanted. Meaningless
    act of course, but you could simply vote against all the counts and no one could stop you and you didn’t have to persuade anyone. Plus, one afternoon there was no action in the courthouse so they let us out and I went to the movies. I found the 2 weeks strangely entertaining and even enlightening, both regarding. “the system ” and all of the personalities involved, including fellow jurors. Like being in a mini series. Plus, I lived across the street from the courthouse. Commute wasn’t much. Keep the posts on this coming!

    • That’s exactly it. My commute is a bit longer than yours was, but it’s a kind of unsought opportunity for a bit of intensive pschoanalysis, and for a more detailed glimpse into the workings of the contemptuously misnamed ‘justice system’.

      Partially misnamed, I should say: a system it is, justice it ain’t.

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