Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jury of your peers

Truxtonian and I have recently been invited by the District of Columbia to appear at the DC Superior court for jury duty. Gaging the crowd forced to watch Sandra Bullock in that 1995 classic "The Net", a lot of folks were invited and actually bothered to show up. However the crowd did not seem to reflect the 56% black, 32% white, & 10% something else demographic of the city. Also I was not as lucky as I was last time, where I was freed after lunch. This time I was called in so the lawyers could pick and choose (yeah, there is a word for it but I don't know what it is) from the pool. The defendant, was a black male and I could count the number black men in the pool on one hand. There were a healthy number of black women, including myself, who were talking amongst ourselves trying to figure out how NOT to get picked. Then there was the huge variety of Anglos including a subset of law students, lawyers, and people who work in law firms and plan to go to law school. Chatting with T about his experience, he also noticed a whiter jury pool reflecting the demographic of people moving into the city.
What does this mean for justice? For the city? I don't know. All I know is that the jury lounge needs more tables, more electrical outlets, and some decent wifi.


At 10/18/2006 10:49 AM, Blogger si said...

I think its called voir dire...they have been playing The Net for years now! it was on the last 2 times I served lol.

At 10/18/2006 11:28 AM, Blogger Scenic Artisan said...

you know.. at first i thought. weird.. only people of british decent at the courthouse?

so i looked up "anglo". what an odd word.

sorry you had to watch the net.

At 10/18/2006 12:21 PM, Blogger Mari said...

Anglo- english speakin' white people who are more than likely of some sort of scotch-irish-english decent.
For my own group I use black, AfAm, AfroAmerican, African-American, sometimes negro, but not often.
Besides I can spell Anglo off the top of my head the other term, too long and easily misspelled. European-American, not used much and sounds stupid. I tend to see the term "anglo" when reading about latino relations, when the author (I'm guessing Latino or Chicano) writes about english speaking white people.
Personally, I see anglo as a positive term, being an Anglican and all.

At 10/18/2006 12:28 PM, Blogger dc gal said...

yeah i actually got picked to serve on a trial earlier this year. Saw pretty much the same percentages as far as who was represented in the jury pool. Our defendant was white, and our jury was majority white (or anglo as Mari says).

At 10/18/2006 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- did all of TC just get called in for jury duty??? I had to go last week, and Toby went this week. They never called me, and I got to leave after lunch. They called Toby, and he was dismissed.


At 10/19/2006 10:03 AM, Anonymous 4thandq said...

I was chosen last year and i can't recall exactly, but it was around 3 white women, 3 black women, 3 black men, 2 white men and a hispanic gal and guy. There was another black woman, but her kids got sick and she had to leave. the defendant was a young black male. The judge and both lawyers were black (although the defense was a joke-- so sad) we convicted, but the primary force was an elderly black woman who wanted "us all to agree so we could go home." A young black man held us up for a few hours asking us to consider all the angles, but in the end, he agreed. It was actually quite fair and civil (except, as i said the abysmal defense lawyer) although it wouldn't have mattered anyway because the evidence was pretty clear.

At 10/19/2006 2:56 PM, Anonymous Yt said...

[X] More (free) wifi -- everywhere!

At 10/20/2006 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've always thought that my juror peers (i've served three times) did not reflect the demographics of the city, in particular with a clear absence of black men.

however, i'd heard that only about 10 percent of the people called to jury service actually show up. i'd also venture that people who can afford the day off work, or who work in white collar or govt jobs where they get paid for jury service are more likely to show. this leaves a large portion of the city less likely to serve. plus, it's well known that DC rarely, if ever, enforces penalties for those who fail to serve.

At 10/20/2006 9:24 PM, Blogger Mari said...

Hey anon,
Claim the post with some initials, a fake name, fake ID, but don't leave it anonymous.

---Webmistress, who hates anon postings.

At 10/27/2006 11:07 AM, Anonymous Toby said...

I just now read this thread. Funny...another white guy sitting next to me in the lounge commented on the same thing. I thought about it for a minute, then told him that there's probably such an influx of new people, that they don't need to make people who served 2 years ago come again. Makes sense because they pull from voter/dmv/tax records. I would say the jury pool was at least 50% white, with sizable latino, asian & black women groups.

And I am proud to be undefeated, 2-0 with being thrown off of juries (1 Fairfax, 1 DC). I was going to be Juror 8 or 10, but found my out during the voir diere process. There's plenty of other people who actually want to do this, so I have no guilt.

At 10/28/2006 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been to jury duty 4 times (every 2 years like clock work), and I always notice the same thing as well. I would also believe it has something to do with who makes up the majority of the people that AREN'T showing up. I'd like to see that statistic, if it exists. I have to think that a lot of the same folks in SE who aren't afraid to bust the boot off their car in broad daylight, to the point where they stop booting cars in SE all together, also aren't concerned about getting in trouble for not showing up at jury duty.



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