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Feb 13, 2023
TCuz Coastal Elite
For the last 9 workdays, I served as a grand juror. Some are calling me a hero. Here's a boring post.

Like a moron, I didn't read my jury summons thoroughly until the night before and figured I was being called into standard jury service, would miss a day of work, and then would be dismissed for either being an attorney, passionately defending jury nullification, or being a crazy person.

I found out this was clearly not the case. In my state, every criminal trial requires an indictment by a grand jury of 23 jurors, and there is no selection process. When you are summoned, you will eventually serve unless you don't speak english. There is no getting out of it.

~80 people were summoned into court on Day 1. They were trying to fill 2 grand juries and would need 46 people total. You had two options that day, you could opt to serve, or defer. If you deferred, they would call you back sometime within the next 6 months. If you deferred too many times, they would reject your deferral. Many people in the court room had deferred before, some had run out of deferral options and had a big stamp that said "Must Serve" on their summons. This was my first summons.

The clerks explained that this summons was for a short grand jury - 10 days, minus 1 day for a holiday. If I deferred, I might not be so lucky. 10 days is the minimum, other sentences are for 20 days, and they also have 6 month sentences! I would not get to chose if I deferred too many times, so this was a good opportunity to serve. I didn't want potential jury duty summons hanging over future vacations and time off or even the summer.

The clerks started to run through every name, and you had to raise your hand and say serve or defer. The very first person called yelled "defer" and the clerk instantly yelled back "denied." I guess he had already deferred too many times.

After running through all ~80 names, they had about 40 to serve and 40 deferred. People have lives, work, childcare. They started to explain that exceptions could be made for some days of jury service, and started to guilt trip people that they didn't want summons hanging over them for the next 6 months. They also noted that if we had more than 46 people, it would be a lottery, and if you made yourself available to serve and were not selected, you were good for 4 years. Slowly, people started opting in. I'd say we got up to ~55 who agreed to serve.

So they put names in a bingo type rotator. They read them one by one. I was not selected to Grand Jury 1. I started to count down the slots for grand jury 2 as they called people. 15 slots left. 10 slots left. 5 slots left. I started to think I was going to be incredibly lucky and would go home, but ultimately I was the second to last person picked. The remaining 9 people got to get up and leave.

For the next 9 days, Assistant District Attorneys brought us cases. The standard to indict as a grand jury was low, reasonable cause instead of beyond a reasonable doubt, and only 12 jurors needed to indict instead of all 23. At one point we looked it up and something like 95-99% of cases brought before a grand jury get an indictment. There is also a famous quote from Learned Hand saying something like a "grand jury would indict a ham sandwich." This turned out to be true.

I can't talk about the cases, I think. But most were cut and dry. Arson, assault, burglary, attempted murder. Some were interesting, some cases were in the local news. Most were boring. I think the tougher cases would go to the longer grand jury sessions.

If you read this entire thing then you should be ashamed. Go read a blog about the Super Bowl or watch the trailer for The Flash again.
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Mar 1, 2014
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Jun 19, 2024
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Related Threads Topic: I have jury duty tomorrow. Please don’t call me a hero. (TCuz, Jan 30, 2023 at 7:24am)

Other Related Threads:
Wait, I didn’t read the form. I’ve been called in to be on a grand jury. I might be a hero. (TCuz, Jan 30, 2023 at 5:41pm)

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