Monday, April 11, 2005

Observations from Jury Duty

As Allison mentioned, I had the pleasure of serving on a Dekalb County Jury last week. I won't go into too many details, other than the fact that it was a Superior Court Criminal (Felony) trial, and that we convicted the defendant. If you are really curious, feel free to drop me a line.

Here are a few recommendations, if you ever find yourself in a jury trial:

  • If you are an attorney, it is inadvisable to pepper your remarks (especially your closing statement) with comments like "I know I'm not the best lawyer in the world." Chances are, the jury has already figured that out.
  • If you are an attorney interviewing prospective jurors, don't patronize the naturalized citizen with Iraqi origins by asking him whether he knows the difference between the judicial system under Saddam and "how we do things here in the U.S."
  • When on the witness stand, make it a point to answer only the questions asked by the attorneys. There is no need to add additional comments or statements, especially if you are the defendant.
  • If you are the defendant, and a portion of the incident for which you are being tried has been captured by security video, make it a point to craft your version of the event in such a way that it corresponds - even ever so slightly - with the recorded evidence.
  • If you are a juror, and you REPEATEDLY cannot figure out how to turn off your cell phone, leave it in the jury room.
  • If you are the defendant and your case is going very poorly -- very, very poorly -- it is still not worth it to flee prosecution during the trial. You'll just make things worse.

  • I hope these tips come in handy. Overall, my jury duty experience was pretty positive. I was afraid that the jury room would be full of folks eager to get things over with and get out of there; but, much to my delight, all of my fellow jurors were willing to go through the case step-by-step to make sure the defendant was given a fair hearing.

    Oh, and one of my fellow jurors was the drummer from the Georgia Satellites. Remember them?

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