Tuesday, February 1, 2011

   Maybe I’m Nuts but..I think our court system could use a little tweaking…especially when it comes to picking juries. It seems to me that the process for picking 12 people to listen to and decide upon the merits of a case has gotten a little lax over the last several years.
   As one who has been tapped for but never actually had to report to jury duty, I can’t help but wonder about the process. The accused has the right to a trial by a jury of his or her peers…right? So…how do they decide what constitutes a pier? I can tell you this much…if Hannibal Lecter had peers I certainly wouldn’t want 12 of them in one room!
   In Boston, some cat named Sal Esposito recently got called for jury duty. Sal Esposito is an actual cat (You thought I was just being hip) and his owner tried to convince the court that Sal was ineligible to serve…to no avail. Cats make lousy jurors, I think, because they spend a lot of time sleeping during the presentation of evidence and (Though it’s generally frowned upon) they always want to sit in the attorney’s brief cases. If I were a judge, I’d probably cite a juror like Sal with contempt for harfing up a hairball during closing arguments.

I’ve heard there’s a good deal of pressure involved in being a peer. I don’t know this first hand (Not because I’m above my peers)…I’m just not susceptible to pressure. That said, I CAN see how a group of 12 peers on a jury in a vice case could feel some amount of pressure I suppose.
I always like to keep track of high profile celebrity cases in the news. These cases can go on for WEEKS. We’re always informed as to when the “case goes to the jury” and for days, maybe weeks, were get updates stating that the jury is…deliberating. In MY mind, I see 12 people, deep in thought, pouring over each and every aspect of the case, weighing the evidence carefully, checking and double checking facts, dotting I’s and crossing T’s, using charts, graphs, slide rulers and a sextant to determine the exact position of the suspect in relation to the crime as crosschecked by the Mayan calendar on the day in question.
Once all of this has been done, (By the jury of the supposed perpetrator’s peers) they render a guilty verdict. Then we get our first look at the jury as they come out and speak to the press.
GOOD GOD…they nearly ALWAYS look like they were gathered up at a midnight Cheetos sale at Sam’s Club! The now convicted scofflaw was caught in the act, red-handed, by 14 FBI agents, observed in the commission of the crime by 143 eye witnesses including 16 local police sketch artists, 47 nuns, 13 Navy Seals, 32 idiot-savants (Who can recognize the faces of over 10,000 individuals apiece), 11 eye chart manufactures, 7 eye chart TESTERS and my junior high school librarian whose eyesight was surpassed only by her acute sense of hearing. (Trust me…I used a calculator) There were 3 high definition surveillance cameras connected to digital recorders (Capable of distinguishing the word “Titleist” on the golf ball Alan Shepard left on the moon) pointed RIGHT AT THE GUY.
It’s not that it took 23 days, 6 hours and 17 minutes to reach a decision…it’s that it took that long to figure out which end of the pencil with which to mark their ballots that’s disturbing. That, and why ANY 12 people would need a 55 gallon drum of Cheetos.
Why we have to make a federal case out of it every time Charlie Sheen gets drunk and picks up a package of Ho Ho’s at the 7-11 without paying for her…IT…is beyond me.
Maybe the problem resides in the form you have to fill out. On the form I filled out, question #4 reads, “Do you read, write, speak and understand the English language” Don’t they think if I got all the way to #4 (On a form written COMPLETELY in English) at least PART of my answer would be yes? Question 10 dealt with Race/Ethnicity and provided boxes for Black/African American, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native (Aren’t there other people who may have been born in Alaska that aren’t fond of living in igloos and for that matter, what’s the difference between Alaskan and American?) White, Native Hawaiian (see previous head scratcher) Pacific Islander (There was NO box for...Human) and the one I checked off…Other.
When asked to explain "other" I offered that I needed a bigger box of Crayons to make a specific match and that I would get back to them.
Question #2 was multi-facetted asking if I was over the age of 18, how old I am, and a place to list my date of birth. I asked them if this was a trick question.
After being as forthwith as possible in filling out my form and due to my obvious talent for analytical consideration, I remain perplexed as to why I have yet to be chosen to serve as someone’s peer in a court of law.
Or…Maybe I’m nuts.
I’m Craig Andresen


  1. I too often wonder how a jury is chosen. When I was 25 I was chosen for a a jury trial. Until this day, I am perplexed as to how I was chosen. At age 25, I already had eleven years of work experience under my belt. (I worked summers for two years. From age 16, I held after or before school jobs and in college a full time job.)

    The defendant, an unemployed drug addict with misdemeanors under his belt and no work history whatsoever. Oh yes and a dropout.

    During trial, we deliberated for two days over his guilt. I never forget how the holdouts came around fast when several jurors reminded them that they had tickets that evening to attend the World Series.

    From then on, I was called every three years for jury duty but was never chosen because by then I was working for a law firm. Go figure.

  2. Hi Craig & D.

    I've been called 13 times, & been on 10 juries, 1 as foreman. I've just been called again, & I'm beginning to think I'm being picked on. I like the idea of trial by jury in theory, but given the number of idiots I've served with (also the ludicrous example of the O.J. trial), I'm now of the opinion that the same results might be obtained by the drawing of straws...