Monday, May 10, 2010

Voir Dire

The Chancellor was summoned for jury duty last month and of course I thought this was the funniest thing I had heard in a long time until I got mine in the mail a week later.

I've always been registered to vote but never had my number picked for jury duty until today.

I was to report for the afternoon session today and was part of a group of 40 jurors escorted to a court room in the County Court House. It was a civil case involving an individual vs an American affiliate of a large recognizable automobile maker and 7 were selected for the initial panel.

The judge went through some preliminaries and then went juror by juror through a series of canned questions:

Do you have any prejudice against the plaintiff for bring a case? Any against the defendant?  Have you ever been the plaintiff or defendant in a case? Are you or any members of your family in the law business as judges, lawyers etc? Have you ever been an auto appraiser? Have you ever been in the auto repair business.

Blah, blah, blah.

The one question that caught my attention was: Have you ever owned an automobile of the make in question?

No one ever owned one of these cars. No one. I had seen these on the street, I knew someone owned them, they just weren't present in the court room. I almost felt bad for the representative of the car maker. Your getting sued AND no one owns your cars.

He also asked a standard set of questions:
Full Name
Municipality
Occupation
Marital Status
Children
Hobbys?
Magazines? Newspapers?
Serious Accident?
Drivers License?

Then after all the public questioning, there was a secret question that they brought the juror to a back room to answer.

7 jurors went through this and then one at a time the Plaintiff's attorney dismissed a juror followed by the Defense. The juror would be replaced and then the whole process would repeat.

This went on for about ten people and then I was selected to be a juror out of the 30 or so who were left. 

I went through the whole line of questioning while only looking at the judge. When he asked my hobbies I answered I was an Amateur Meteorologist.  The judge laughed and said that was a first.

When I finished the public part they asked me to the back and asked the secret question. It was a question on my opinion on Tort Reform.

Are you kidding me? I had to go in a separate room to answer my opinion on Tort Reform?

I answered, returned to my seat and the lawyer for the defendant said something I hadn't heard up to that point:

"The defense is satisfied with the jury as it stands"

I thought that was it, I was on for the trial and then just as quickly, the plaintiff dismissed me.

I was out. 

I have to admit I was a little disappointed. What question didn't they like the answer to? Why was I dismissed? I'll never know. 

I left the building knowing that the next juror selected was probably the last.

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