Sunday, April 29, 2012

Voir Dire

Voir Dire is a French term for "speak the truth". I received a summons for Jury Duty beginning last Monday. Yes!! As long as I'm not on death's door or about to board a ship for foreign ports, I want to serve. I do.

A few years ago I was picked as a potential juror on a criminal case. During voir dire (when the attorneys get to question you) I was asked many questions....mostly about my knowledge of DNA. I was not chosen. Fast forward to last Monday. From a jury pool of about 200, they picked 50 names. I was # 47. Only one trial needed a jury (12 jurors and 2 alternates). I watched as the defense attorneys and the prosecutor wrangled with the first panel and then the second. Lots of people were excluded right away. By Wednesday after lunch, I was sworn in.

During the Thursday morning and afternoon sessions, my group was questioned. What took so long was that there was a list of at least 50 or so potential witnesses in this trial and they question you to see if you know them. Plenty of people did...not me. Some were related to multiple people on the witness list. Cousins, aunts, ex-husbands, you name it. Some were neighbors, former co-workers.

Here's just a few questions I got: Do you have any law enforcement personnel in your family? (yes...I'm a mother of a police officer, Los Angeles Police Department.) Have you ever been to ____'s Lounge? (no, and I've never heard of it) Did you follow the Casey Anthony case? (yes) How do you feel about serving on this jury? (I'd be pleased to do my duty as a citizen) And so forth.

Attorneys for both sides can challenge a juror for "just cause" (if they believe you're biased) or "peremptory" for which they don't have to give a reason.

I was released. And disappointed. But that's the way our american judicial system works. And it's the greatest system in the world, flaws and all.

I'm going to try to catch a few sessions of the trial this week, as a very interested observer. I'd welcome company if anyone wants to come along. :)

By the way, you can read about this trial on this site: (click around and you'll find it, it's the only big trial going on now...defendants are two women, charged with 2nd degree murder)

Because I was released I can now discuss, read about, research, or even blog about it.

Too bad I wasn't picked. They wouldn't have found a more willing, a more interested and unbiased juror with an attention to detail and a good memory (no note taking allowed in capital murder trials) than me. Seriously. And that's my voir dire.