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Re: Jury Duty

At 08:30 AM 12/23/98 +0100, Some Anonymous Replay User wrote:
>In 22 years of being qualified, I am facing my first jury duty summons as a 
>regular employee and see no way out except to report. 
>The old self-employment, financial burden exemption no longer applies.
>Is there a good web site where I can find other legal means to recuse myself
>(I live in AZ), or if I do decide to report and get on a trial, 
>a web site on my rights to vote my conscious, aka jury nullification?

The Fully Informed Jury Association web page is http://www.fija.org/fija .
They've been the primary organization promoting Jury Nullification issues
for the last N years, and there's some good material there.

The question I'd ask is why you _want_ to get off jury duty.
Just to avoid wasting your time?  Don't like courts or the current laws?
Don't like having to judge other people?  Generally cantakerous? :-)  

If the problem is wasting your time, how much time gets wasted
depends a lot on your county.  Most counties call far more people
than they need to be potential jurors, just in case they need them,
and take different approaches for winnowing down to the numbers
they actually need for real cases.  The place I live now makes you
call a recorded message every night to see if your number's come up.
On the other hand, a county I used to live in made you show up
in person for the first four days whether you were needed or not,
and this was before laptop computers so I couldn't do much work there.
Another county I lived near makes the lawyers all show up Monday,
and takes care of all the jury selection that day.

On the other hand, if you are picked, and the trial is expected
to take a long time, the voir dire process generally includes
asking if this is going to cause a major hardship,
which is why juries on those cases are usually made up of
retired schoolteachers, retired military, and postal workers.
But most county jury trials seem to be civil cases, like car accidents
and such, which are usually pretty quick.

For criminal cases, the job of the jury has always been to judge
the law and its applicability as well as the facts of the case,
regardless of what the judge and prosecutor tell you
(though the judge's instructions on the law usually are
relatively good advice.)  If you think the law's bad,
like drug laws, or being applied unfairly in the case at hand,
or that the penalties are way out of line for the crime,
you can vote not guilty, and you can try to convince your
fellow jurors to do the same.  Your duty is to vote your conscience.

Alternatively, if you really want to get out of jury duty anyway,
handing out FIJA literature in the jury pool waiting room
and discussing the issues with your fellow potential jurors
should either get you thrown out quickly, because they don't
want your subversive kind around, and similarly,
if you get as far as the jury selection process,
being an intelligent and opinionated type often makes
you an undesirable juror in either civil or criminal cases,
so they may still reject you.  

But if you're the political activist type, rather than just 
trying to get out of jury duty, you can get stuck on some 
automobile accident or dog bite lawsuit 
where there's basically no FIJA issue at all and you're just
deciding who's 65% at fault and how much pain and suffering
their whiplash really caused :-)

Bill Stewart, [email protected]
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