Friday, March 31, 2006

Why no posts? Jury service...

I haven't posted anything new lately for good reasons. First, I took a vacation during spring break. And then when I got back I was on jury duty in Seattle Municipal Court. A few quick notes about jury service:

  • Yes, lawyers do serve on juries. (Many people have asked: "They let you on???" I assume their surprise is because of my legal training, not because of erratic behavior or obvious lack of judgment.) One of my fellow jurors was even a prosecutor with experience prosecuting the type of case we heard. (See earlier post about lawyers on juries.)
  • There's a lot of waiting around. The Seattle Municipal Court's Jury Assembly Room is a nice space with a good view, comfortable furniture, plenty of magazines, four PCs with Web access, a soda machine, and jigsaw puzzles -- but still, many people got restless. I wasn't even called for a venire until 2:30 on my second day.
  • I thought that both attorneys did a good job during voir dire. When I've been on jury duty before some attorneys asked such convoluted questions that I didn't know what they were asking. This week, the attorneys were very clear. The defense attorney did a good job getting the potential jurors to think about themes that he later raised in his questioning and closing argument.
  • Last fall I saw that Seattle Municipal Court uses interpreters in about 420 hearings a month. This was one of those cases, so we saw interpreters (three in all) whispering into a microphone so the defendant could follow everything and interpreting for the defendant when he was on the stand.
  • We were encouraged to take notes. The bailiff gave us each a notepad. (The notes are destroyed after deliberations.) This is a change since I served several years ago. I liked it, and I think it was helpful.
  • The case turned on credibility. Did we believe this witness or that one? I think we jurors did a good job sorting through the testimony. Everyone had really paid attention and was ready to focus.

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