This past week - I had my 2nd Jury Duty experience as an adult...I learned some things and thought I would share.
The jury duty rules in NYC have changed over time. Potential Jurors used to have to serve a minimum of 2 weeks versus minimum of 2 days now... I can't imagine 2 weeks! Also, once you serve your term - you are excused for SIX years (barring a Juror shortage). The last time I served - I was excused for only 4 years...
Overall, there is a negative connotation with serving jury duty and a greater negative feeling about getting picked to actually serve on a jury. It's understandable I suppose ... taking off of work is a pain for most people, especially if you work for a small company. If you work for a big company, it's not easy either, because you're going to have to make up work when you get back.
Due to this, most people will definitely TRY to avoid getting 0picked on a jury...They'll enhance any feelings they have to a particular subject - or - something that was popular this time around - people with accents suddenly don't understand English that well...
The first time I served, I was sitting for criminal cases. Those cases typically last weeks rather than days. When the judge asked who thinks they should be excused from service - it was like asking who wants free money... At the time I worked for a company with less than 5 people - so the excuse was legit.
This time around I was sitting for Civil cases and part of me actually wanted to get picked on a jury. I think it would be a very interesting educational experience. I cleared my schedule this week at work because I knew I had to serve my civic duty... Anyway - it didn't happen. I was called into the jury selection room once for a medical malpractice suit... That was it.
I served a day and a half ... I sat listening to music and playing poker on my blackberry (Internet connection was very spotty). I read a little. But basically - I just sat. It was crazy boring.
I don't know how they can improve the system -- but I feel like it could use a change. If I was involved in a case -- would I want people who didn't want to be there (or who were obsessed with having the power over people - so really wanted to be there) deciding my fate or outcome? I don't think so...but... how else do you aggregate a jury of one's "peers" ... No clue - but - It should be another 6 years before I have to think about this again...
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