Friday, May 22, 2009

'Extremely bored' juror gets an arrest warrant

Bored Potential Juror Arrested for Absconding, Hillsoboro (Ore.) Argus, May 12, 2009 (picked up in the Oregonian May 19 and ABA Journal website May 20).

On the one hand, this is a funny law story -- man "just couldn't take" the boredom anymore and so didn't return after lunch and it turns out that (surprise!) doing that can land you in jail.

It also raises some serious questions. The judge emphasized that having a broad cross-section in jury pools and juries is essential to fair trials and that jury duty is an important, well, duty.

But face it: much of jury duty IS boring. I love having some time with nothing to do but read a book, but even I have felt restless and bored being trapped in the jury assembly room waiting to have my name called. The Seattle Municipal Court has done a lot to improve jurors' lot -- the room is at the top of the building with some views; on nice days jurors can go out on the deck; there are places to plug in laptops; some of the furniture is comfortable; people who work nearby can leave if they promise to be able to return within a short time.

What else could be done? DVD players (with headphones so as not to distract others)? Wii?

The jury assembly room is only part of it. What about the long stretches when something is going on in the courtroom and the jury is stuck in the jury room, not able to discuss the case and not able to do anything else? Is there a way to alleviate that boredom? A few video games, a deck of cards, ...?

No comments: