I was called for jury duty today. Strangely, none of my 100-or-so fellows in the jury assembly room seemed nearly as excited about the prospect of serving as I felt. When I made it to the courtroom (the 180th District Court, Hon. Debbie Mantooth Stricklin presiding) and saw that Caroline “Wonder Woman” Dozier, one of my favorite prosecutors, was prosecuting the case, I thought I might actually have a chance of making it onto the jury — Caroline might, I thought, have the guts to allow me on the jury. (It was a case within the broad class that I think could merit prison time.)
I took some notes. One potential juror said that he couldn’t honor the accused’s right not to testify because he had been on a jury before, had acquitted, and then had learned that the accused had been in other trouble. He said that he’d talked to several other people with similar experiences. Operation Poison the Jury Pool is succeeding.
Neither the State nor the defense got a lot of information from the jury panel. The State focused on educating the jurors about the law, while the defense focused on developing challenges for cause. Nobody asked any open-ended questions, and nobody bounced one person’s answer off another.
30 minutes per side is not nearly enough time for lawyers to get meaningful information about 60 jurors. A judge who limits the lawyers to 30 minutes per side is begging to have the lawyers pick the jury either based on prejudices and stereotypes, or on random selection.
I didn’t get to serve on the jury. Caroline burned a peremptory challenge on me, and explained later that she didn’t want to appear in my blog. God forbid.