Rejected From Jury Duty

Posted: December 14, 2009 in Politics

Today I was summoned to the St. Joseph County Courthouse to begin the process of jury selection for a murder/arson case.

As I went to the Courthouse the LAST thing I wanted was to be chosen to be on a jury.  And then when I got there…I got caught up in the process…heard the charges…and then I REALLY wanted to be selected!!!  But I wasn’t.  It was a very interesting process.  I was totally captivated by the whole thing.

But, I didn’t make it because of Sarah Ingram.  What?!  Yea…Sarah Ingram…read on.

First, about 50 of us gathered in the courtroom where we listened to the bailiff explain the process and rules of being on a jury.  It included a video.

Second, all of us went back to a tiny jury deliberation room (ALL 50 of us!) and then the bailiff came in and selected 14 people (I’m assuming at random) who would be the first to be questioned by the judge and attorneys.

Third, we all went back into the courtroom.  This time, the judge, the court reporter, the prosecution (made up of three lawyers) and the defense (made up of two lawyers) and the defendant were in the court room.  Even though the focus would be on the first 14, we were to all to pay attention to expedite the process as the afternoon went on.  The judge and attorneys asked the first 14 questions and in the end, they collectively decided to dismiss nine of the first 14.

Fourth, we took a break, and another 14 were selected and subjected to the same process.  Seven of the fourteen were dismissed.

Then, they put seven more individuals in “the box” and five of the seven were dismissed.  But after those three rounds they had 14 jurors (12 who would actually be on the jury, and two who would serve as alternates).  About 15 people (myself included) never got a chance “in the box”.  After they reached 14, the rest of us were dismissed.  But I would have never been selected.  Here is why –

They wanted someone who knew nothing about the case.  Two individuals thought they remembered the news story when the crime was committed in April of this year.  The lawyers asked, “Did you read it in the Tribune, did you see on the T.V., did you read about it on the internet?”  Neither of them were really even confident.  They only seemed to recall the story.  GOOD-BYE!!

As soon as the judge read the formal charge which listed names, dates, and locations – I KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THIS CASE WAS ABOUT!!

Sarah Ingram (who goes to Living Stones Church) was the next door neighbor of Dawn Brooks.  I spoke to Sarah the day after the fire and the discovery of Dawn’s body.  Sarah talked to me about Dawn and how she would come over and use her phone because she didn’t have one. Dawn’s mother called Sarah to get information on what was happening.  It was Sarah who told Dawn’s mother she had passed away!!  I remembered the whole thing…and right in front of me was the dude accused of committing the crime (who looked very cleaned up by the way!).

I was going to have to disclose that.  And after I did, they probably would have dismissed me.  But I had an argument as to why they should keep me.  Doubt they would have bought it, but I was going to try it.  I really wanted to be on that jury.

Two other observations:

1.  The general public can be scary.  Several potential jurists were, quite bluntly – morons.  It was scary to me that they might be deciding the fate of any individual.

2.  Our judicial system allows judges and attorneys to dismiss morons.  All of the above mentioned morons were dismissed by counsel.

3.  What still bothers me, however, is that said morons are still allowed to vote in public elections and determine the state of our government.  And in considering that, South Bend’s city government and school board made much more sense to me 🙂 .

  1. Jaynie Romer says:

    Believe me Sam you were very lucky to not have been chosen! I was chosen for jury duty last year for a well known murder trial. It was terrible! The whole trial consumed me and not in a good way. I am so thankful for my boring life.

  2. sister says:

    I was chosen for jury duty several years ago even though I knew about five of the potential witnesses. I still was picked!!!! After I knew the first witness for the case I was then kicked off the jury and there was a debate between lawyers for a mistrial because I tainted the jury.

    I have not been invited back on a jury after that. I really want to. I think I have been red flagged.

    Jayne….I didn’t know about you being on a jury for a murder trail. You will have to tell me about it.

  3. Melissa says:

    I just observed a trial for my litigation class, dude stole an MP3 player, and it upset me. A murder trial would really mess me up. I still think I want to go to law school though.

    Can you imagine, Sam, if we didn’t have jury trials or elections and one person got to decide? That scares me even more. We’ve all got a touch of moron in us.

  4. Depends. If that one person was me…then I would feel much better. 🙂

    And…granted on the “touch of moron” in each of us (just read Sam I Am posts…this should be most evident)…but if you would have seen a few cast of characters…WOW!

    Jaynie…now I want to hear all about it.

    Sarah…figures your presence would incite mayhem.

  5. EdK says:

    You are SO exactly right.. I did the diagramming on that case and am pretty familiar with that one as well. Curious as to your reasoning to be kept.

    Just remember that juries are made up of 12 people who couldn’t have the smarts to come up with a good enough excuse to get out of it 😀

  6. Lorinda says:

    I was chosen for a jury recently. It was a domestic violence case and quit interesting. I tried everything to get out and they still picked me. I knew the defence attorney. I knew the victim. I have 3 special needs kids, my husband is unemployed ect. and nothing worked.

  7. MK Note-sense says:

    Learn what the judge won’t tell you or allow you to be told about your rights and powers as a juror. You might be surprised and more willing to serve if you only new the true purpose of the jury.

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