Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jury duty

For the last three days, I've spent most of my time at a New York State criminal courthouse, where I was called for jury duty. Lots of sitting around, but, while sent to a courtroom where they were picking jurors, I never got selected even for voir dire, much less actual jury service.

I was actually selected once for a civil jury - despite my law prof background and my having (long, long ago) taught Evidence and written a couple of articles about statistical probability issues.  But that civil trial settled before the opening statements. Just as well, as I was merely an alternate, so I probably wouldn't have gotten to participate in the jury deliberations.

It's actually quite interesting to see the process from the quasi-inside.  One clear point that I've noticed on more than one occasion is how earnest, or at least apparently earnest (it's hard to know) people are about expressing their views and feelings accurately during the voir dire.  But at the same time a part of the process is designed to overawe them into doing as they are told, in terms of following the law and the judge's instructions.

It would definitely be interesting to serve on a jury sometime, but I was glad not to be chosen this time, for personal reasons relating to set-in-stone vacation plans.

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