life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ever serve on a jury?

A few weeks ago I got a letter from the Commissioner of Jurors, asking me to fill out an eligibility questionaire.  Lawyers are not exempt from jury service, so I anticipate receiving a summons to jury duty in the near future.

I have never served on a jury.  Closest I came was about 14 years ago.  I was on telephone standby for two weeks, until the very last day, when I had to go to court.  The court clerk called out 23 names, and we were sent to an empanelling room with a group of about 4 - 5 lawyers.

Voir dire is the term we use when lawyers question potential jurors to see who they want on the jury.  During voir dire the lawyers get to tell the potential jurors a little bit about the case.

The process is to put six people in the jury box and speak to them.  As one potential juror is dimissed, another potential juror takes a seat in the box.  Usually those who haven't been interviewed sit in the seats used by the audience and listen to the proceedings.

My name wasn't called until the lawyers had picked six jurors and now needed to select two alternates.  So I had been listening to the voir dire for several hours before my interview began.

I knew I wasn't going to be chosen.  The case involved a multi-car accident.    One of the drivers lived in the same town where I reside.  The accident took place in an intersection I can describe from memory.  And the plaintiff's attorney kept asking each potential juror " Do you know anyone who works in property and casualty insurance?"

So the plaintiff's attorney begins his questioning -- what's my name, where do I luve, do I work outside the home?  Fourth question is "What do you do for a living?"

As soon as I said "I'm an attorney with a property and casualty insurance company ", the lawyer's face went white, and his jaw dropped almost all the way to the floor.  He turned to the other attorneys and said one word: "Cause?"

Within a few seconds I'd been dismissed.

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