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Jury Duty
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Susweka
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Messages: 265 , Offline
Of course I can't say anything yet, trial starts today, but this is my first time actually sitting on a jury panel.

So, the purpose of this thread is......Tell us your jury experiences............  

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at Thu, 9 Aug 2012 06:55

Griddlebone
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Messages: 602 , Offline
Fair enough... I've been called for jury duty 3 times and was released from the first two as soon as I stated my occupation (science professor). The defense usually doesn't want college professors on the panel unless they are trying some really technical defense.

That didn't happen the third time. They put not only me but also a pharmacist on the panel, and the trial was for a DUI. Duh. Both lawyers were brand new and it showed. The prosecuting attorney wore an green tweed skirted suit - someone in her firm needs to take her shopping for a conservative suit with a price tag that will make her eyes pop out. She only needs it for trials, after all. But I digress.

The defense chose to claim that blood was "a mixture of enzymes, sugar, and bacteria" and that the bacteria fermented the sugar to create alcohol. I was surprised to see that most of the jury bought this argument on the basis of "she said it in court, therefore it must be true." I was astonished and dismayed to find out the pharmacist (who should have known much, MUCH better) was in the group that believed that outrageous statement. Blood shouldn't have bacteria in it at all - that's a dangerous medical condition known as septicemia. Even if it did, which it doesn't, most bacteria ferment sugar to produce lactic acid, not alcohol. (Lactic acid fermentation: cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi. Alcoholic fermentation: bread, beer, wine. Both: soy sauce.)

After the trial, we learned that the young man had two prior convictions for DUI, something that was decreed not admissible in the trial.

Lessons learned: (1) Some pharmacists don't know diddley-squat about how biology works. This is scary. It's discouraging to be reminded that lawyers and the general public have a very poor grasp of scientific concepts, but I can't let the pharmacist off the hook here. (2) Priors are considered prejudicial. Huh. (3) C'mon, people! Just because a lawyer says it in court does NOT mean it's true! (4) Sorry... green tweed never says "I command this room!"  
Susweka
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Messages: 265 , Offline
so.........I'm thru w jury duty for another year. Ca has a 1 day/1 trial rule & it turned out to b a 2 day trial. We voted yesterday & came out with a 7 guilty 5 not guilty verdict. No one was willing to change their vote, so it was declared a mis-trial.

It was a DUI case but obviously not clear-cut or we wouldn't hav bn there. I have no doubt that th guy had bn drinking & @ th time of arrest he blew a .08 which is legally impaired, &, according to th CHP officer, he failed th 4 field tests BUT those are not admissable in court, only th blood test taken @ th jail, which was a .04. That is NOT legally drunk (except if you hav a commercial license). So, why didn't we 5 vote guilty??? Good question~

It was a rainy nite n March, 2:30 a.m. on th freeway. Th cop was n route to an accident on a diff fwy & came up on th defendant who was "driving n a serpentine manner". He turned on his video camera, evidence, & lit th guy up. Th guy pulled over immediately but th cop told him to go up to th next exit, which he did & pulled into a well lit gas station. THEN for reasons known only to th cop he did th field soberity test OUT OF RANGE OF TH CAMERA so we had no visual evidence of how th test went. Then th cop says he administered th breath test 2x & it was a .081 & .08 so he arrested th guy. All clear cut so far, you say? You'd think so but no....THEN th cop & his partner (who we DIDN'T hear testimony from) proceeded to th accident call & by th time they got to jail it was 5a.m.
They did th blood test, admissable evidence, & it was .04.

Those are th facts~now.......th video didn't show him weaving nearly as bad as th cop had indicated, he even said it didn't look like he saw w his own eyes, th tests were done off camera & th only hard evidence we had was th blood test. 7 jurors said that was enough to convict. 5 of us didn't agree. 1 juror was a geological engineer who knew about th fallibility of not only th field test machines but also the big ($75K) machine @ th jail & we were willing to err on th side of th defendant. After all, th judge told us that "th tie base goes to th runner".

Turns out this was th guy's 1st offense of ANY kind. I can live very easily with my verdict of not guilty, even tho I'm sure if he had gone straight to th jail he woulda bn "legally impaired".

Comments?  

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at Thu, 21 Jun 2012 08:09

Griddlebone
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Messages: 602 , Offline
Lots! First, in my DUI case the guy's blood was 0.14 at the jail, about 90 minutes after the pull-over. Point. One. Four. Those busy bacteria in the blood, that must have been the answer! The defense attorney actually tried to float the idea that it was so difficult to get to that BAC and be conscious that it couldn't have been drinking that put all that alcy in his bloodstream.

Next, your guy was a first time arrestee, and from what it sounds like, drinks about as much as a lot of guys I know who aren't alcoholic or good-time party guys. He's probably been scared enough to wait a while before driving, have some food with his beer or wine, alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water or soda, etc. etc. etc. At 0.08 he probably didn't even feel much of a buzz. "Studies show" that you're impaired at 0.08, and I tend to trust the cop's judgement about what he saw, BUT - it sounds as if the guy was right on the edge. Maybe he needed a wake-up call. I hope he listened to it! If so, then public safety has been given a boost, and no harm to the guy's Permanent Record. I kinda wish in cases like this the guy could be ordered to go to a responsible drinking class, with nothing on his record after he attended it. Kind of an intervention rather than a punishment.

I've noticed that most guys in my circle of friends - which includes computer guys, cops, car service technicians (car guys), house painters, and so forth - think they can drink a certain amount and drive, and they're always sure they're fine. I'd love to put a Breathalyzer lock on my husband's car. Anyway, judgement is impaired by alcohol so you pretty much have to decide on some personal limits in advance and stick to them even if you feel fine to drive.

Finally, it sounds like your judge was pretty cool. The guy at the case I sat on was very relaxed, very humorous, sympathetic to the new lawyers (and the cop, who was sweating and stuttering - another first time in court guy) but also firm in keeping everyone in line. I was really impressed with the judge.  
George51
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Messages: 523 , Offline
I can't serve because I'm a full time care giver for my mother so that get me out of serving on any trials  
snavenasus
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Messages: 39 , Offline
I've done it twice. In the uk when called up you are obliged to be available for 2 weeks. The 1st I served for 1 week but the case set to start the 2nd week was a 3 week case so as I had a 12mth old baby I was able to decline. Exactly 10 yrs later I was called again and again only had to serve 1 week as there were so many attending jurors that we served only 1 week each. That was 24 yrs ago so may get called again.  
 
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