Friday, June 09, 2006

A Very Grand Jury

On June 19th, I'm on Grand Jury Duty.

Almost invariably, whenever I mention this to someone, they act as if I've just said: "On June 19th, I get castrated."

Also, most people have no fucking clue as to what Grand Jury actually is. This saddens me no end.

If you know what Grand Jury is, skip this paragraph (unless you 're in love with my sparkling prose). Most people are familiar with trial juries. A trial (or civil) jury considers the evidence presented for and against a person or persons accused of a crime, or a civil disobedience. At the end of the trial, they decide whether the defentant(s) is(are) guilty or not guilty of the charge (there is no legal term 'innocent'). That's an entirely different entity from a Grand Jury. A Grand Jury does not decide on guilt. It merely decides whether or not the prosecutor has presented enough evidence to take a case to trial. A Grand Jury is 23 (in my state) people who make sure that the government actually has a strong enough case against somoene to move on to the trial phase.

From June 19th through July 7, I'll hear evidence on about 80 potential cases presented by various District Attorneys. I can't wait.

Yes, it will be a hindrance to my job. Yes, it's inconvenient. Yes, I'll be sitting in a building designed and built by low bidders with a score of folks I don't know, and unable to leave for large stretches of time.

But it's one of the most important things I'll ever do.

Jury duty and voting. These are the cornerstones of what makes this society work. This is my part in keeping the checks in place. This is the work of America.

And most people don't do either. And I'm guessing a lot of those people complain about the state this country's in. Could thre possibly be a connection?

So I miss a few weeks of work. Guess what? I won't have to do this again for a decade. And I've done my part.

Why would I want to get out of that?



Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

Democracy isn't necessarily easy but it's worth working for.

And I do vote, despite the clowns paraded before me. I'm glad it's them doing their politician job and not me. so I vote.

There you go, that's as political as I get.

3:18 PM  
Blogger dusty said...

I am so jealous.I have always wanted to be on a Grand Jury. The criminal jury duty I had was boring,small cases that were over in a few hours and I have another term this month starting on the 19th.Evidently we have a small jury pool where I live.

1:35 AM  
Blogger Madame X said...

I've got some questions that might answer your question.

How much do you get paid by the State to sit on the Grand Jury?

Does your current job pay you while you do your civic duty?

Does the state pay for child care while you are on Grand Jury?

I know that if I don't show up for work I don't get paid reguardless of whether or not I am out serving the republic.

8:43 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

I hate it when people complain abotu jury duty. I undertsand it can be a financial hassle for those who are paid daily since the government only gives you $6 a day, which won't even cover the cost of lunch in most cities, but it is a civic duty. It is a VERY small way to give back to a country that has granted us so many freedoms, and serving gives us the leeway to complain about the freedoms that are not afforded to us. I hope the case isn't boring.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

Have fun! I've never been given jury duty but I've always voted.

I'm sure your fellow jury members will be as interesting as the case.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I've never done jury service...shame that.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Heidi: agreed, it's worth the effort.

Dusty: That's strange. In my state, we get a 5 year exemption after serving jury duty--10 year for Grand Jury.

Madame: Yeah, there are people for whom serving on a jury would cause an undue financial hardship. So those people should be exempted. That's not who I'm writing about. I know for a fact that some of the people that I talked to about jury duty would still be paid while serving, because we work for the same company. Those are the ones that draw my ire. They don't want to serve because they don't want to. I find that attitude unacceptible.

UWL: $6? Grand Jury here pays $35. And, as I wrote in the last graf, to me, undue financial hardship is a legitimate reason to not serve on a jury.

Notso: I'm guessing you don't belong to a politcal party. STBEW told me that was the reason why I didn't get called to jury duty until I was in my 40's--the courts, until recently, just pulled from the ranks of the democratic and republican parties on a 1-to-1 ratio, assuming this way there would not be any sort of political imbalance in the jury pools.

Daniel: if/when you do, blog about it. I'd love to read about how it's done in England.


4:46 PM  
Blogger RC said...

man, that's so cool...i want to be even on a simple jury, but the grand jury...what a unique experience...

my uncle was on one for a year in colorado...crazy stuff.

--RC of

5:55 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

That's assuming you get selected. I got hyped up for jury duty a few years ago only to spend my time reading a good book in a waiting room for three days.

9:03 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

My mistake. Regulary jury duty here is $6. It's possible that a grand jury is paid more. I'm sorry it'll be a hardship for you, but glad you're doing it anyway. This is a good reason, though, to write your congressmen and tell them how you feel abotu having the opportnity to serve your country but that it makes it incredibly difficult since they aren't even paying you minimum wage.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

It's no hardship, UWL. I still draw my salary from work.


9:50 AM  
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7:19 AM  
Blogger mal said...

I have yet to be drawn for jury duty but I will go. I am not impressed when some one brags about how they "got out of it". You are correct, it is one of the cornerstones of our liberties

8:27 AM  

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