Friday, November 10, 2006

How everything I knew about Jury Duty was wrong, and how it changed my view on the system. Part 2.

One of the things I found particularly disturbing about the whole jury duty experience was the sheer volume of agendas.

I don't consider myself particularly naive. I would even say that I am fairly on the cynical side, but I was completely side-lined by how completely naive I actually was. I expected the lawyers and defendants to have agendas, and even a reasonable amount with the jury pool. After all.. life is about agendas. I'm not stupid. Well, not that stupid.

In serving my time I learned a huge lesson about stated preference vs. revealed preference. You can learn about it here. I found that no matter how hard a prospective juror protested about not wanting to serve or not being able to serve, they were absolutely lying.

Now I don't want readers to misunderstand me. I have absolutely no problem with people who are honest and just say "yeah, would love to serve". And there were a few people who did that, and I respect the hell out of them. These are not the people I am talking about. The people I am talking about will lie directly to your face about not wanting to serve, and then will essentially audition for the judge. I would say 90% of those I saw interviewed fit into this category. And let me tell you... I talked to a lot of people as well. My main objective was to claw out of serving, and clearly their main objective was to stay in the pool. I will talk more about this later.

People who claimed having serious illness while in private would get called to talk to the judge and reappear. For instance one woman I talked to went on and on about how she had diabetes and had family issues. I learned fairly early on that up to that point, everyone who had been called into see the judge privately had entered the elevator and left. Which is what I had thought had happened to this woman. There were a lot of people and I hadn't seen her for a while. So when she popped back up I was a little shocked.

While out on a break we began talking and I made mention that I thought they had tossed her for her health reasons. She immediately changed the subject. After talking for a good while about other stuff I again inquired why she was still around, and she again completely avoided the subject. It was at this point I realized she wanted to be there.

After a few days I saw so much of this behavior I became really pissed. After all - these people wanted to serve, and it was most of the jury pool. I however didn't want to serve and clearly stated it and I found myself realizing that it would be a very long time before I was able to address the judge and tell him there was no way he was turning me around. At this point the judge is getting through 5 people a day. With the 2 hour lunches, and people using the courts time as a platform for all sorts of reasons. I will also talk more about this later.

Now I know you are probably thinking, well most of these people were lying so why would the judge believe you? This is why.

I found that a very small percentage of people were honest on their questionnaires and like me - said they could not be objective or had a financial hardship. These people relatively immediately got dismissed. There was very clearly a difference between those people and the people who were trying to stay on the jury. The judge addressed very specific questions from the questionnaire, and every single person that was resolute in their answers were never being turned back from leaving that room.

I spent less than a week in screening and I could distinguish these people immediately. It was so insanely obvious.

To be continued....

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