Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jury Duty

I did not get the jury.  It was a stalking case, and one of the questions that the defense attorney asked was if any of us had ever experienced stalking, or anything like it.  Two other jurors had difficulties with boyfriends who didn't take, "It's over" well, and I related my experiences with death threats, harassing phone calls to me, obscene phone calls to my kids, back in the 1990s from some political activists.  I suspect that this is what knocked me off the jury.

I was a bit surprised (and the jury commissioner was obviously disappointed) at how few of those summoned to jury duty actually showed up.  Weather was bad, but still.

My impression of Judge Roger Cockerille was pretty positive.  He gave the prosecutor and defense attorney considerable leeway to ask questions during voir dire, but he was also prepared to get them to move forward towards a conclusion on questioning, and handled the only objection (by the prosecutor) in what seemed a fair manner.

This being a very small county--and most of the jury pool who showed up being from the area near where the stalking incidents were alleged to have happened--there were a lot of people who were bumped because they knew one of the victims well.  One member of the jury had roomed with one of the victims; another had employed him some years ago, and was friends with one of the witnesses.  I think there were some ties between members of the pool and this victim.  As Judge Cockerille pointed out, in a county this small, if you exclude everyone who even slightly knew either party, you would have a hard time making up a jury.

When the question was asked about previous contacts with the judicial system, I began to wonder if perhaps a DUI conviction was a requirement to live in Boise County!  Admittedly, this is a very common crime in America.

UPDATE: Almost forgot: a herd of elk crossed the highway in front of me on my way out of Idaho City.

4 comments:

Ian Argent said...

Both times I've been called up, the jury pool manager (same guy - a character) made sure to tell us clearly that he had no problems with sending out the sheriff's deputies to apprehend shirkers and deliver them unto him; and to tell our friends, family, and co-workers the same.

This just before he asks for the non-citizens and non-residents to please tell him this and be excused. This got a couple of people each time... (It's on the summons, incidentally, what the exceptions are - I don't know why they showed up).

joated said...

With 0.08 being the law of the land, it's a wonder there's anyone with out a DUI anywhere in the country. eat the wrong foods, gargel with mouth wash and you'll blow 0.08 or higher.

Clayton said...

I'm a bit skeptical of that claim, joated. A mouthwash is supposed to be used as a rinse or gargle--not swallowed!

Many years ago, Car & Driver magazine did an experiment where they tried to see what would happen to the driving skills of their writers as they approached legally drunk (which had just dropped to .08% BAC in most states). So, they all tried to get good and sloshed, and then drove around a race track, through a slalom course, etc.

What was quite entertaining is that only one of their writers managed to get to .08% BAC level. Most of the rest were too sick (as in vomiting) to reach that level--and yet their driving was severely impaired. They were all deeply impressed how little alcohol it took to make them incompetent to drive.

Now, it is true that heavy drinkers develop a tolerance. Me, sniffing the cork out of the wine bottle is probably pushing my driving competence to its extremes.

Ian Argent said...

In college, a friend of mine and I each had one bottle of cider and proceeded to play time trials of some racing computer game. Now, despite being in college, neither of us were heavy drinkers - but even on ONE bottle (12 or 16 oz) of fairly weak cider, we had noticeable impairment. Probably not to an unsafe level - there are plenty of things that can impair your driving ability that do not rise to the level of unsafe impairment, but still...

My only problem with the MADD folks is that their "compromise" of 0.08% is the same kind of "compromise" that the Bradys were after with the AWB; it's a "good start", and like the various firearms restrictions, are aimed more at shutting down legitimate safe drinkers rather than the worst drinkers who cause accidents.