Trial in Court 14: Voir Dire I


Jury panel is filing in. 20 people. Mostly white, mostly women (12).

Judge Mike Fields does the “good morning . . . good morning” thing. It’s stupid when a prosecutor does it, and it’s stupid when a judge does it.

The State has the “property of” problem here: State and court will try to apply statutory “ownership” law from theft cases to criminal trespass case. A lawyer would be litigating that; I’m guessing D won’t.

D has elected to have the court set punishment in the event. This is a class B misdemeanor. Up to six months in jail, up to $2000 fine.

Everyone on the panel will make the state prove its case BRD. I know this because the judge asked and nobody raised her hand.

Introductions: D, standby counsel Brian Storts (serving at Judge Fields’s request), two prosecutors—SM, chief in Court 14, and her anonymous second-chair prosecutor (AP).

Judge explains the process, asks if anyone would say anything to get out of jury service. “The second highest calling, after military service, is jury service.”

Judge won’t limit parties’ time. They have indicated that 45 minutes is enough.

AP is up, using the lectern. Good morning everybody. Introduction. My name is AP, I’m an ADA, I’m married, wife, kids etc. etc. Thank you for your time. The justice system would grind to a halt if you didn’t come down here.

Who wants to serve on a jury panel? #9, #7. Couple people don’t want to serve.

Criminal trespass case. How do people demonstrate don’t come on to my property?

#1: By showing a firearm.

Laughter.

#2: A sign. But I believe in the right to bear arms too.

#3: Large gates.

#4: A dog.

#5: Verbally.

Issue is who has a greater right of ownership to that property, who has legal right to be there. (That’s what I’d litigate.)

Some parents think kids shouldn’t be immunized because they think there’s a link between MMR vaccine and autism. Let’s say I’m a member of that organization, and it’s something I believe very firmly in. Let’s say I come to your house because you’re pregnant and I really don’t want you to immunize your kids. I leave some literature. I come back the next day. You close door on me. Next day I come back, you tell me not to come back on your property. I come back the fourth day. Am I trespassing?

#13: I’m scared out of my mind at this point. What motives do you have? This person is back again, I’m scared.

#12: What’s my recourse to get this guy to stop coming back? Verbal notice should be enough.

I don’t mean you any harm. I’m trying to save this unborn child . . . from possibly having this terrible disease. (That was slick!) Do I get a free ride?

New hypo: I want to talk about if there’s a difference between your home and some sort of corporate setting.

I am doing this for the good of our country. I want to prevent children, who are unborn, from getting autism.

Let’s say I’m not getting anywhere going door to door. I am going to take it to the corporation. Let them know these mercury levels in vaccines are causing autism in unborn children.

You’re the security guard at a plant in Pasadena. I walk through the gate. You tell me to stop. I keep walking. Have I committed trespass? (Most agree.) #1, you wouldn’t draw the handgun at that point, would you?

I’ve walked 20 feet. Trespassing?

To front door of factory. Trespassing?

Open front door and walk in. Trespassing?

Does it matter that there is nothing more important in my heart than saving unborn children from autism?

Jurors: No. There’s a forum for that.

Is it okay to protest?

Where is the line?

Jurors: Outside. Stand with a sign outside the gate.

Does it matter that it’s a corporation? Does it matter that my cause is important?

Juror #5, you are now a member of the Pasadena Police Department. You’ve been called out to the scene because I’ve trespassed. What do you do as part of your investigation?

#5: Ask him to step outside first.

Discussion with trespasser? What would be best way to memorialize the discussion? Audio or video; statement.

What kind of statement? What are you there for, did you hear the instructions of the security guard? Were you told not to come on the property?

What if he says I heard him but I don’t care? Does that matter?

Good to have an audio tape of D saying he did it?

#2: I don’t know how it was obtained.


3 responses to “Trial in Court 14: Voir Dire I”

  1. I know I should go back and look, but are you in trial? Do you get to voir dire the jury. I miss that about new york. In MD we don’t get to, the court does. blah.

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