Jury Duty: A Citizen’s Solemn Obligation?

Yesterday, the same day of the Michael Jackson acquittal, mentioned by Progressive Ink, another bit of supreme court news regarding the juror selection system was published by the LA Times.

I remember the last several times I was called for jury duty: I spent most of the time sitting and waiting, reading a book, filling out questionnaire forms, thinking . . . and more waiting. One of my thoughts was how we’re told by the courthouse that it’s our duty as citizens to sit on juries, and how constitutionally important the citizen jury is to the freedom we have.

Rarely have I been allowed to actually sit as a juror in a trial.

Once, while waiting in the courthouse, I imagined how the courts might have been back in the early days of this country, and further thought that a jury summons back then probably meant you’d get to sit on a trial. Today, that is not so. Potential jurors are examined, questioned, prodded, and probed, by private attorneys and the courthouse. After this, one might be asked to sit as a juror; but more than likely one is, in my experience, dismissed. In many ways, the current juror selection system reminds me more of a classroom examination and summary judgement against the potential juror in the preponderance of times I’ve experienced it, than the citizen’s executing of a solemn duty to a fellow citizen & the community by actually sitting as a juror to hear a trial.

What happens to all the information the courthouse and the private attorneys have collected on citizens called to sit on juries, but who rarely do get to sit on an actual case? Is the potential juror’s data safe and secure? Is it recognized as the property of the source citizen? Or has that data been usurped for another’s use and eventual profit? Has it been placed in a database somewhere? Has that data been aggregated?

While I don’t have the answers to the above questions, I do remember being examined by attorneys several times after being summoned by the courthouse to show up for jury service. The people sitting at the attorney’s table would scribble on their legal pads after I gave my answers to the questions asked by another attorney. What is done with that data they recorded? Had I refused to answer their questions, what courthouse-sanctioned punishment could I have expected?

The larger point I intend is that instead of sitting on a jury, which is a U.S. citizen’s duty, today one is forced to divulge personal and private information to a system that may not protect that data adequately. How does the requirement of citizens to be examined before sitting on a trial impact each citizen’s and potential juror’s privacy?

Has a citizen’s solemn duty to an accused citizen been transformed into another lie The Rulers tell citizens to collect and exploit their personal information?

Perhaps juror selection should be entirely random. At least that way, a citizen’s time is not taxed by the state in an off-the-books transaction.

2 thoughts on “Jury Duty: A Citizen’s Solemn Obligation?

  1. Your raise some interesting points Ken. I have never, believe it or not, been summmoned for jury duty. I really have no idea what the process is like.

  2. I was just called in for jury duty again, now California has a one-day one-trial policy. I wasn’t selected for any trial, and about 100 (wild guess) other people were let go early. This means I won’t be asked again for at least one year, according to my understanding.

    The information they requested of me was quite basic, but, since I was not asked to take part in an actual trial, there was no secondary selection or further questions asked, so the point is somewhat mute.

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