Monday, June 2, 2008

Jury Duty, Day 1.

We begin with an educational video on the Joys of Jury Duty so lame that just watching it made me feel like I was living an episode of The Simpsons. Inspirational music susurrating around the voices of really bad actors wearing head scarves and hard hats, all spouting variants of "When I was summoned for jury duty, I thought, why me? But now I know that there's nothing more exciting than serving the cause of Justice and my fellow Canadians! And even though they don't pay us or give us travel allowances, and even though they'll throw us in jail for six months and fine us $5,000 if we try to skip out, and even though their lawyers get $500/hour while we have to pay $3 for a cup of fucking coffee while trapped in an underventilated corral with four hundred fellow cattle and three hundred fifty chairs and no fucking wireless access, I know that the Justice System of Canada values me, because you can't have a jury without jurors!"

Most telling dialog-based inference to get past the censors: "And it really restored my faith in the Canadian Justice System!"

Right out of the gate, called up to court. Sadly the jury was selected before my name was even called, although I suspect my chances of being accepted were probably pretty low after I pumped my fist in the air and said "Yes! Score!" when they announced that the trial was for First-Degree Murder.

Most unexpectedly heartening moment: When I realized that of the twelve final selected jurors, all of whom were given the choice of swearing on a Bible or merely making an oath of affirmation, every last one of them chose the non-faith-based alternative. I did miss the usual irony of seeing people swearing to tell the truth on a book of falsehoods — in an institution supposedly predicated on the pursuit of fact and empiricism, no less — but I was glad to pay that price if it means that so many of our population have opted out of superstition.

Question Most Regretted For Not Having Had the Chance to Ask: "While I accept the need for secrecy during the course of the trial itself, I think I probably will be talking to other folks about my jury deliberations after the trial concludes, even if it does break your stupid law. My question is: since you now know this, are you not making yourself an accessory by allowing me to continue serving as a potential juror?"



Blogger Steve said...

I may have jury duty on Thursday. I plan to scratch myself repeatedly, all the while muttering: "Bugs! Bugs! Crawling all over me!" That usually works.


June 3, 2008 8:44 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I'd not mind serving on a murder case for the giggles, so long as I didn't have anything OVERLY vital going on in the meantime.

June 3, 2008 9:55 AM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

Of what does an "oath of affirmation" consist?

June 3, 2008 10:36 AM  
Blogger Strannik said...

How did I get out of jury duty?
The first time I wore a suit, brought a newspaper, briefcase and introduced myself to every person I could.

The second, I got an excuse from my boss.

The third time, I used the first method and asked the DA if the only reason he was prosecuting was because someone got shot.

The fourth time I brought the baby. I was told by the county clerk as I left that I had used the correct childcare excuse (the judge roasted the people who hadn't).

Looks like you used #3 to decent effect there. And I suspect your post graduate education would have bounced you right out. Jury consultants and lawyers hate people with higher degrees unless they're expert witnesses or fellow shysters.

June 3, 2008 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Johan Larson said...

bec-87rb:"Of what does an "oath of affirmation" consist?"

Q: You gonna behave yourself?
A: I sure am.

June 4, 2008 10:26 AM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

Q: You gonna behave yourself?
A: I sure am.

You're being flip? Cause if that's what it is, some of those folks who preferred not to swear on the Bible, and just do an oath of affirmation, might not be irreligious, but have a religious flavor that prevents them from swearing on a Bible.

June 4, 2008 5:58 PM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

strannik, how many times have you been called for jury duty? Does someone have it in for you?

becster, an "Affirmation" is pretty similar to an oath in intent, but you "affirm" to tell the truth rather than "swear", there's no "so help you God", and you don't have to put your hand on a bible. I took that option myself at my own trial back in '91 — asked if they had a copy of Origin of Species I could put my hand on, but evidently none were available.

June 4, 2008 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Evelyn said...

The "everyone affirms" story has brightened my day.

June 6, 2008 1:53 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

My fiancee had jury duty last year here in Toronto. Though there was paid wireless available. She also had to watch apparently the same shockingly bad Village People Video on jury duty. We wondered why they wouldn't let high school or college students remake the video.

June 6, 2008 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you serious that they don't pay you anything for jury duty in Canada? In Australia they sure don't pay much, but at least you get something... and the coffee/tea is free too (once you've actually been selected for a jury that is).

I wore a suit the first day, didn't work. I had my PDA full of ebooks & games with me to pass the time while waiting to be selected/rejected only to find that if selected you have to hand over all electronic devices each day for the duration. Jebus. Thankfully I missed out on final selection the second day (a lottery draw I was happy to lose - 'twas a jailhouse killing and he sure looked guilty to me).

June 9, 2008 12:39 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

They pay zip for the first ten days. Then it's $40/day up to a month, and after that I think it's $100/day. No travel allowance. But since you only have to sit in the jury pool for a week, none of that kicks in unless you actually get selected.

June 9, 2008 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Ottawa, not only do we have to pay for coffee, but we have to pay $12/day for parking. Unless, of course, you are brave enough to take what Ottawa calls "PUBLIC TRANSIT". This is the bus system (Ottawa must be the only city of it's size without light rail) based on the articulated buses that do not function in the snow. Good planning. But what do you expect from a municipality that thinks it should form the natioanl government.

June 9, 2008 1:37 PM  
Blogger Strannik said...

Damned if I know why. But it has happened. By now, I've been up for jury duty more times than my dad. We were tied until I got the jury duty notice while on FMLA. He thought it was hilarious when I told him about the judge. He did ask to borrow her when he next got tapped for duty

I wonder if I beat the Madison, MS county clerk's kid at science fair or something?

June 11, 2008 3:00 PM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

I took that option myself at my own trial back in '91 — asked if they had a copy of Origin of Species I could put my hand on, but evidently none were available.

Your own trial? What had you been up to?

July 1, 2008 12:10 PM  

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