life in and around NYC is insane

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This will be funny for the lawyers in the crowd -- jury duty

Now, you all know that I am a lawyer. I graduated from law school in 1984. spent 10 years of my life working at various litigation-based law firms, but found my niche working in-house at an insurance company.

A number of years ago I was called for jury duty. No, lawyers are no longer exempt from service. Here in New York, you are very likely to serve jury duty without ever setting foot inside the courthouse. when you get your jury-duty summons, there are instructions on how to call in to see if you have to report to court. You generally serve on telephone standby for 2 weeks, and if you're not called to court during that time, you can consider your duty done.

I was summoned to court on the very last day of my telephone standby.

When I got to court I was made a part of a 25-member pool. The lawyers were to pick 6 jurors and two alternates from the pool for a civil trial.

I knew they would never choose me.

If I'd known one of the lawyers I would have been dismissed right away, but since I didn't know any of them (there were three parties involved in the suit) I had to remain in the room for the entire voir dire.

So they asked 6 people to take seats in the jury box, and they began their questioning. It seemed there was an auto the town next to an intersection I could describe in my sleep....and one of the parties lived in my town.

But the killer question came from the plaintiff's attorney. "Do you work in, or do you know anyone who works in the property and casualty insurance industry?"

I had to wonder what the auto adjuster might have said! After all, if it was an issue in the case....

So they continue to question people, dismissing some and choosing others.

Finally, after they've chosen 6 jurors, it's time to choose the alternates. And that's when they called my name.

Now, at this point I am sure that all of the lawyers had used their peremptory challenges to get rid of potential jurors they didn't like. which meant they couldn't get rid of a juror unless there was "cause" -- such as bias.

So the plaintiff's attorney starts asking me questions. What's my name, where do I live, do I work outside the home?  I could see him scrawling a note, reminding himself to ask more questions about where I live....

And then he asked me what I did for a living.

So I told him.

"I am a property and casualty attorney for the XYZ Insurance Company."

And after he picked his jaw up off the floor....he turned to the two defense attorneys and said one word: "Cause?"

And they were nice to him and agreed i should be dismissed.

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