As an alternate, you can’t just yell out "GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!!!"

Previous to last week, the only experience I’ve had with jury duty revolved around how to get out of it. However, seeing as how I’m kind of in-between jobs I decided what they hell, I might as well see what the whole jury duty hype is all about. I was summoned, so I went.

On Monday, I sat around in the jury lounge for a while until it was revealed I had been randomly selected as one of 35 potential jurors for a short trial. So I continue to sit around until 1:30, when we were all finally called up to the court room for jury selection. It was kind of interesting – out of the 35 of us, 18 were called for questioning about what their jobs were and what their past experience with police was. The judge reminded me of Jerry Springer. Finally, 12 jurors were finally decided upon by both attorneys…and then…and then…and then…

Yup, they needed and alternate. Which was when my name was called. So picture this – I get all the responsibilities of being an actual juror (taking notes, paying attention, not falling asleep), but none of the glory of actually deciding upon the verdict. It’s ok though – I’m not working, and it will still be kind of interesting seeing the process. Which it was, I guess.

The case was not complicated – we had a day of witnesses; the defendent was pretty much charged with trying to prevent a police officer from doing his job. Basically, the guy was stopped for not wearing a seatbelt and the cop found out that he had a suspended license and an arrest warrant, so in the process of being arrested, the defendent started fighting the cop then ran off. He was finally found in a trailor park and it took four cops to restrain him. His defense was that the cops were using “excessive and unreasonable force” during the process, which was total crap. As soon as deliberations began (around 11:30 on Thursday), they kicked me out and I had to wait in the jury lounge (because, as the alternate, I couldn’t participate in the deliberating). At 2:30 they called me back up to the courtroom and I was all excited because I was sure the case was over – it seemed pretty straight-forward so I wasn’t expecting it to take a long time.

However, my hopes were quickly dashed because the jury apparently wanted three hours of the court reporter’s notes read back to them, which I did have to be present for. Anyway, that carried over through Friday morning, and THEN the jury finally decided on a verdict. Guilty as charged! Woo hoo!

It was kind of interesting, but man, if you ever find yourself up for jury duty for a case that is going to be long and complicated, don’t ever allow yourself to be the alternate. I suggest that you start twitching uncontrollably and mumbling about how you hate cops (talking to yourself, in general, will keep you out of trouble) near the beginning of the jury selection process to avoid the pitfalls involved with becoming an alternate juror.

Justice man, she’s a saucy manx!

2 thoughts on “As an alternate, you can’t just yell out "GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!!!"

  1. Very eary (huh?) – Just a similar account of being an alternate juror in the North County Times, Tuesday April 11th. “I didn’t get to deliberate, having been selected as an alternate juror, a kind of juror purgatory where you hear the case and then wait around while your fellow jurors decide the matter, only to be called upon if one falls ill.”Obviously, professionals lack your writing skill!

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