Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Not A Lick Of Work

STATUS: I’m pretty excited because the Nelson Agency is launching our brand spanking new e-Newsletter starting next week. It’s going to include all kinds of special info that won’t be divulged on the blog. So if you are interested, you might want to sign up so you don’t miss the inaugural issue.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WAR The Cardigans

Today was a complete wash, work-wise, because I answered my summons for jury duty. Now I’ve been called in the past but I’ve basically sat in a big room for a whole morning without my number being called. I got to leave by noon.

Not today. This morning I was actually selected to sit through the juror selection process. A criminal assault case (third degree) no less (but don’t worry, the judge clearly said there was no gag order and we were welcome to discuss it freely).

Law & Order it’s not.

Twelve prospective jurors sat in the jury box to start the process (10 alternates sat off to the side and observed). The attorney for the prosecution began the questioning with the defense attorney allowed her turn afterwards. Initial question period was 15 minutes each.

I’m not sure what I expected but here were the two questions I personally received:

1. Has anyone ever made me angry enough that I was provoked to violence?

Answer is no by the way.

2. Could I maintain the presumption of innocence even if the defendant chose not to testify or explain his actions in the alleged assault?

I answered yes.

The attorney also questioned whether the race of the defendant (African American) and the race of the person pressing charges (Latino) would be a factor. We all answered NO. It would be interesting to know how that eventually played into who stayed on the jury and who were dismissed. I’m sure our individual races as jury members were factors in the selection.

I was also surprised by how much the defense attorney was allowed to lead the questioning in the jury selection process. She asked whether we could believe in a self-defense argument if the defendant was larger than the complainant.

Gee, I wonder where that question was leading to.

I didn’t get to find out because I was dismissed as well as a white male corporate attorney, a white male airline pilot, an older white woman of Southern origins who described herself as a housewife, a Latina woman whose English, by her own admission was only so-so, a white cocktail waitress who had mentioned the at she had been moved to violence several times, a Puerto Rican man who admitted that he would need the defendant to testify to understand the case, and a retired Latino gentleman who seemed pretty neutral to me.

Those who remained were a white stay-at-home mom, two Latina grandmothers (one retired and the other worked line-assembly for machinery), a Latino 18-year old high school student (no kidding, he was going to have to take off from school to sit on the jury), an older white woman who managed contracts for an oil/petroleum company, and a serious African American gentleman who looked to be in his 30s and who was an alternate to sit on the jury when a young woman asked to be excused because she was dealing with the recent death of her daughter (that startled the jury panel). I can’t remember his profession but it was pretty late in the day by then (and that was another interesting tidbit because we all had to state our name, profession, marital status, and some hobbies).

All in all, the whole day was fascinating. On one hand, I was relieved to be dismissed so I wouldn’t miss another day of work. On the other hand, it could be really educational and interesting to see the trial unfold.

But the end result was the same. Not a lick of work got done today.