Rants and Ramblings

Dan Does Jury Duty


I got the summons last fall and quickly realized that I was faced with the age old dilemma: Do I lie at a level which even figure skating judges would find offensive or do I roll with it? I figured it wouldn't be too hard to get out of it - you know, give the defendant a big wave when I walk into the court house or make sure to bring up my never ending hatred and distrust of lawyers multiple times. But when I figured all I'd have to do was skip out on chem (ooo....there's a huge loss) to go down to the selection process, I figured, what the hell, let's give it a shot. Plus, the idea of controlling someone else's future in my hands is quite a nice power rush.

So, I skipped out on my afternoon classes on the Thursday and hoped on the C-Train down to the courthouse. After I was herded into the courtroom with about 200 other aspiring jurors, some guy in a uniform came out and went through his whole song and dance about how it was our duty to serve, how great democracy was, how those damn communists Russians were going to lose the cold war any second now and other similar things. We then got to see one of those great videos reminiscent of junior high social studies on "The judicial process". The thing started with "you may have seen courtrooms on such popular shows as Perry Mason or LA Law...". It was followed up with the mandatory number of 80s hairdos and usual chintzy dialogue:

Juror: I was summoned to jury duty next week but may have to skip it due to our meetings.
Kind, considerate boss: Don't worry about your meetings. I will take care of it. You see, as your employer it is my duty to allow you to serve on a jury when summoned to do so.
Juror: Thank you very much. I'm sure I will enjoy my jury experience.
Kind, considerate employer: Your jury experience should be a fulfilling and enlightening one as it should give you much insight into the judicial process in Canada.

If anyone among you has ever had a conversation remotely like this on any topic, please tell me because I cannot fathom two people ever talking like this in real life. And, for the record, I swear on Team Canada's gold medal chances that I am not embellishing that conversation in the least bit.

So after this video, they brought out the lawyers and defendant involving in the first case. He seemed like a lovely young man who just happened to: (and I loosely quote the charges against him)

1. Rob a woman
2. Assault a woman
3. Destroy a tape recorder which he felt may have contained evidence pertaining to the first two charges.

Now, I'm not sure if this makes me a good or a bad potential juror but I had already figured out the verdict before the friggin' trial even began but anyways, I guess they felt they had to give him a fair trial and all that wholesome stuff so they began to select jurors. What they did was have little ping pong balls with everyone's numbers on them and they'd draw them out 12 at a time and the lucky people chosen would be the next contestants on the price is right. Ha, ha. No, seriously folks, the 12 would go up front and the lawyers would be allowed to accept or reject them based on: looking at them, their age, and their job. That's it. No questions along the lines of: "Are you a drunken redneck who thinks it's OK to assault women?" or "has a policeman ever shot and killed a relative of yours?". Just those 3 criteria.

So, I noticed that the defence lawyer, let's call him...the defence lawyer, was nixing pretty much every single woman who was a potential juror. I guess his logic was that women wouldn't be very sympathetic to his fine young client who has the unfortunate habit of robing and beating up women. Meanwhile the prosecution was nixing everyone under 35, feeling that young hoodlums would be more likely to support robbery and assault - whatever, I don't have 10 years of law school so I'll let him make ingenious leaps of logic like that.

All in all, roughly half the contestants were getting axed and when they called the third group of 12 up, they still needed 1 juror and 2 alternates. And, believe it or not, the very first contestant for round 3 called up was none other than...Daniel Arnold. So I eagerly dashed up front. When they called my name, I stepped forward and without even looking up...the prosecution lawyer nixed me quicker than a Canadian medal favourite can blow it.

So, as a result, the 14 people on the jury (including alternates) consisted of: 12 old white guys and two women. Well, here is a great representation of society! I thought the whole point of juries was to gather a cross-section of the criminal's peers, not a bunch of old dudes (well, I may have missed that part of the video). Oh well.



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