Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Jury Duty

Today I turned out at the Moultrie Court House for jury duty, with the eight o'clock shift. About nine we had our orientation video, then the screens went to CNN, with the sound low but too audible. I opted for the hallway, where it was easier to read. And at about 11:30 we were all called into the Jurors Lounge for a jury pool.

Pool members are called out by last name and the last three digits of the juror identification number. The last three digits perhaps should be expanded, for we had three pairs in our pool of 60. We were seated in some order in the courtroom--probably not alphabetical, else I should have been farther back. The judge introduced herself, the attorneys, and the defendants, and at 12:15 turned us loose until 1:45. I walked over to the National Gallery of Art for lunch in the concourse cafeteria.

The voir dire began at about 2:00, requiring just about a minute for each potential juror. At that point the last four into the room were dismissed, then some number of others, I suppose for cause. We then went through about a dozen rounds, in each of which at least two pool members were placed in the section to be dismissed, and generally one or two moved into the jury box. I was in the jury box for a couple of rounds.

About 3:35 the attorneys had the dozen jurors and two alternates for the trial. The rest of us were dismissed to the jury office, and were done for the day, and most likely for at least two years.

The jury office and the clerks work efficiently. I do think that
  • The televisions in the Jurors Lounge are distracting. I recognize that many jurors prefer TV to books, but there were quite a few people with books in the lounge and in the courtroom.
  • The air conditioning is on too high.
  • There should not be a courtroom right next to the juror lounge, where so many potential jurors sit reading and talking. Attorneys and their clients come out discussing the case--today I assume it was one for which a jury has already been empaneled, but will it always be?


  1. CNN on television? Hmmm.
    In any case, I look forward to reading whatever you are able to write about your jury duty experiences. Once upon a time, when I was in the federal (military) justice system as a non-lawyer prosecutor (yes, there were such peculiar animals), I was particularly intrigued with how courts-martial members (juries) conducted themselves and arrived at their decisions. Of course, their participation was compulsory duty, and they were not peers but superiors, whereas civilian court juries are a somewhat different kettle of fish. Keep us posted.

    1. Once the voir dire was over, I reported to the jury office and was turned loose. The District of Columbia (and the adjoining Montgomery County in Maryland) have a system of "one day or one trial." I was on a jury about three and a half years ago, but otherwise neither Montgomery County nor the District of Columbia has required me to do more than show up and answer questions.