More Thoughts on Jury Duty

I’ve been thinking more about my experience on jury duty. Yesterday, one of my colleagues asked me about it. I’m almost sure this colleague is an ISFP (in fact, I think she even confirmed this when we did the MBTI at work a few years ago). She was saying how she didn’t think she’d be good at jury duty because she’s not good at making decisions. This got me thinking; of the 12 jurors, there were 7 of us who never changed our minds (well, one of those 7 did at the very end, but he didn’t vacillate). The other 5 were really on the fence the whole time, and most of them changed their minds several times. I was thinking about all of our personality types, and I think probably most of us non-vacillators are probably Js, where as the vacillators probably were mostly Ps. I don’t think the divide was 100% J vs P, but I’d be willing to bet that was a big part of it.

Jury Duty: Days 4-5

So at about 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon, we began deliberations. After discussing our initial impressions a little bit, we did an anonymous vote to see which side everyone came down on. Results: 5 Guilty, 6 Not Guilty, 1 Undecided but leaning Not Guilty. There were a few of us (including me) who were very staunchly Not Guilty, and there were a few who very firmly believed the was Guilty. Then there were several people who were very much on the fence.

Now, being a very strong introvert, you might think I had very little to say during deliberations. Wrong. I was probably one of the most outspoken people on the jury. I guess it’s that INFJ passion for our causes that came out in me—I felt very strongly that the prosecution’s evidence was not strong enough to convict, and I advocated passionately to that affect.

I thought about typology a lot during the deliberation process, actually. The evidence that the prosecution submitted as proof of his guilt was nearly all circumstantial. We were told that in the eyes of the law, circumstantial evidence does not hold less weight than direct evidence, but as circumstantial evidence is, by definition (“is evidence in which an inference is required to connect it to a conclusion of fact”), open to interpretation, we had to really rely on our own judgment as to whether we believed the circumstantial evidence “proved” the prosecution’s case. Also, we got stuck on points 2 and 4 from the list above (2- DH knew that DJ committed the felony, 4- DH performed this action with the intention of helping DJ evade arrest). Establishing guilt for both of these items required us to try to ascertain the defendant’s state of mind at the time of his alleged crime, which of course is quite difficult and requires interpretation and intuition as well.

Jury Duty: Day 3

We actually started the trial on Tuesday afternoon at about 4pm. That was annoying, because my spouse was supposed to pick me up at 4:30, when we were supposed to get done. But we didn’t get done until 5, and of course I had no way to contact him. On that day, we heard the beginning of the first witness, the arresting officer, KD.

Wednesday morning we heard the rest of KD’s examination, his cross-examination, and his redirect. He told us that the defendant, DH, who was accused of hiding his girlfriend, DJ, when she was wanted for a robbery.

According to KD’s testimony, the police got a call at 9:23 am saying that an old man had been robbed (of an amount between $30 and $383, but probably about $300) in his apartment building. They responded and talked to the victim, JV, and the manager of the apartment building, AM. They got security video from the elevators and the entryway (he specifically said there were NO cameras in the stairwell) and from these videos were able to determine a suspect. While they were there, another resident of the building came into the office and turned in a wallet he had found in one of the stairwells, which turned out to be JV’s wallet, with his ID in it but no cash. Then they went to the Salvation Army across the street, and people there told them that the woman they described from the security videos had been in there shortly after the robbery and had dropped a wad of cash accidentally, and was bragging about ripping off an old man. These people gave the police her name, DJ, and said that she had seen her boyfriend, DH across the street and went out to meet him, and that they had walked toward the house where they live with DH’s mom, about 2 blocks from the Salvation Army. The people at the Salvation Army described the house (they didn’t know the address), and the cops looked for the house, found it, called for backup, and knocked on the door.

When they knocked, DH opened the door and they asked if they could come inside and talk. DH stepped outside, closed the door, and said No, we can talk out here. It was cold and January, so the cops found this suspicious. They asked if he was alone, and DH said no, there was a female home. They asked if the female was DJ, and he said no, and they asked if DJ was there, and he said no. They said DJ was a suspect in a robbery and asked if they could come in and verify, and DH said no. The cops told him they could get a search warrant, and he said, fine, get a warrant. At that point, a female came out of the house and identified herself as LB. She called upstairs and DJ came down. She was wearing the same clothes as in the security video and willingly gave up the 5 $20-bills she had on her person, hidden in her underwear, from the robbery. She was arrested, DH was arrested for aiding an offender, LB was cited for possession of marijuana, and another male who was at the house was arrested for an outstanding felony warrant. They all went down to the station.

Jury Duty: Days 1-2

I’ve always wanted to be called for jury duty, so when I got the summons in the mail a few weeks ago, I was excited. I did have one fear, which was that I’d end up on a jury where I was the only one who believed the person was innocent (or guilty), and I’d have 11 people ganging up on me. I wouldn’t want to betray my conscience, and I don’t think I would, but holding out would be pretty unpleasant.

My term of service began on Monday, March 28. I got up in the morning and my husband drove me to the courthouse. I had my laptop and some reading material, as I knew that at least the first day would likely consist of a lot of waiting around, and I wanted to get some work and reading done. I arrived in the jury waiting room and checked in, and received the Jury Handbook. The room was pretty full – there were probably 100 or so people there. I had hoped there’d be coffee in the waiting room, but there was not.

I sat down to read through the Jury Handbook, and after a while, someone named Beth came and gave us a little orientation about how the week would go. A group of about 25 people would be called by name, and would be escorted to the courtroom for jury selection. This is called a jury panel. Then you go through the process of jury selection, or Voir Dire, which consists of first the judge asking questions to the whole group, and then each individual (in the presence of the whole group), and then each attorney doing the same. During the jury selection process, both attorneys and the defendant (and plaintiff, if it’s a civil case) are present as well. If it seems that anyone would not be able to be a fair and impartial juror, that person is dismissed. Once everyone is satisfied that the remaining potential jurors could all be fair and impartial, each attorney “passes the jury.” From the people left, 13 people (12 jurors and an alternate) are agreed upon by both attorneys and the rest are excused. You don’t know who the alternate is until it is time for deliberation to begin. At that time, the trial ensues, and when both sides have rested their cases, the jury goes to deliberate.