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Jury Duty; a "sinful" civic requirement?

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posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 10:13 AM
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Okay, yesterday I went to the county courthouse with a jury summons. When I had received that summons (my fourth) I had again hoped I would be seated on the jury....to me it was like 'winning a raffle', with the prize being an adventure of sorts. I have never been seated on a jury, but have thought it would be interesting, a part of adult civic life that not everyone has an opportunity to experience.

Previously I have sat on the hard pews while going through the process...one time my entire group was dismissed right off the bat; the other two times I made it to the selection panel, but was excused from the group sitting in the pews...the first was a petty-theft-from-the-till case, the second was a personal injury case. No biggie. I was disappointed that I wasn't chosen.

This time, the clerk had the pews full already when I arrived, so I was sent to sit in the jury box itself. "One step closer," I thought to myself, "to seeing what it's like to be a juror."

I had no idea what the cases were, who the parties were, or anything else about what the docket contained. They did not tell us the nature of the proceedings in the morning orientation except that there were 2 criminal cases, 1 civil case, and another case to start Thursday.

I was placed on a panel of 60 potential jurors for the first case and we were herded to the next building, in numerical order, like a busload of school-kids on a field trip. We entered the courtroom, again in numerical order, and I was again directed to the jury box. "Score," I thought. "Even if I don't get chosen, at least I've had a chance to sit in the jury box during an actual proceeding. Cool."

Once everyone was finally seated, we were told it was a criminal trial. The defendant stood when told to, and turned "so these folks can get a look at you."

The voir dire (jury selection) started with the ADA speaking to us about "burden of proof" and our role as jurors (if chosen), and said the process was to take the remainder of the day.

About a half-hour into the address, the ADA said it was a murder trial. Premeditated murder in the first degree. Suddenly I had a sort of "uh-oh" sinking feeling, like dread. Did I really want to sit on a 1st degree murder trial? On one hand, it was the ultimate of cases...the most important role a juror could be assigned to. On the other...yikes.

The defendant was seated at the table furthest from where I was with two attorneys. Between them and me was the ADA, with a 3-inch binder on the desk that had a name on the spine.

I started to reconsider whether or not I was up to sitting on a jury that would decide the future for this person. At that point, I became neutral about it. I would serve willingly and do my best, but if I was dismissed that was fine too, because it's a hefty responsibility, and one naturally thinks of retaliation when one becomes involved in such things.

That is all I can tell you about it (judge's orders), that I was on the panel, that it was a 1st degree murder case, but nothing else.

When I got home, I called my mom, who knew I wanted to be seated. I told her the above. She told me then that my dad had served on a 1st degree murder case when I was a teen (I never knew that until yesterday) and they had convicted the guy. "And he was scared," Mom said. "For quite a while, he was nervous and worried."

My question to ATS is this: would you sit on a jury for a 1st degree murder case? Or would you ask to be excused

on grounds of your faith-based or spiritual beliefs?



I was not chosen, and in hindsight, I am relieved. But it brings up an interesting point, one that I wanted to present here. Is it morally okay to be one of 12 who decide whether or not the State has proven guilt or not in a case involving the death of a human being?

I'm not sure at all..... And I look forward to seeing what you all think.
edit on 17-4-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 11:11 AM
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I have spoken to many juries on both sides of the aisle. I have never wanted to be on a jury but would have just to see what these people discuss while in the jury room.

I have been on both sides of murder cases. I didn't really care for it. I had the duty to present the evidence in the best light of the State. However, I would not withhold any evidence just to make my case. What prosecutors have forgotten is they have two duties. The first is to see that justice is done, even if that means losing the case. The second duty is to represent the government, which comes second after the first. Prosecutors are under such pressure to win, they forget the first duty. I was lucky. I had an elected SA who said if it was wrong to prosecute, then we would not prosecute.

Elected State's Attorneys are always defending their conviction record. That is how challengers defeat them in elections. SA's records are always challenged. There is nothing else to challenge an incumbent on.

The Feds have a great record of convictions. That is because the discovery process is tilted totally in favor of the government. It is basically going into a criminal trial as a blind defense attorney. The other reason is the plea structure is so favorable to defendants to plea, they get only a fraction of a sentence if the plea out, guilty or not.

What everyone should know is that there is an unwritten rule. If you plead not guilty, and go to trial and are found guilty, you WILL receive the maximum sentence for exercising your constitutional rights. The system, on both Federal and State level, are not equipted to handle the maximum case load the courts face now. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world. You have to plead guilty to get anywhere close to fair. Exercising your Constitutional rights in the courtroom is comparable to an unforgiveable sin.



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 11:16 AM
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reply to post by Nite_wing
 


Are you still working as an attorney? Have you ever been summoned? The judge yesterday in the intro meeting pulled out of his pocket a summons....
and one of the people on my panel was the Mayor!

Here in my state, no one is "excused"...except felons with a conviction within the last 10 years.



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 11:16 AM
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This has always interested me that Republican/Conservative States which therefore are more “Christian” they have a higher rate of instituting laws and enforcing the death penalty. Yet a lower rate and more laws prohibiting the act of abortion.
This to me is a huge! HUGE…HUGE contradiction if they are truly “Christians”

6th Commandment pretty much spells it out…“Thou shall not kill”

"...Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment." (II Chronicles 19:6)

--"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19)


So other than incarceration if anything else is done, Christians held by their own writing fall into a deep well of Hypocrisy. Then they will vehemently deny this, get on a high white horse and preach again what they do not understand or comprehend. A true follower of Christ would give God the final judgement and not fall into the trappings of man and men's laws, but there are very few followers, just sheep...
edit on 17-4-2012 by abeverage because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 11:24 AM
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reply to post by abeverage
 



So other than incarceration if anything else is done, Christians held by their own writing fall into a deep well of Hypocrisy.

More than one potential juror said they would not accept being on the jury on grounds of not wanting to judge someone. The ADA replied to them:
You are not the judge. You are to decide if I have proven my case or not beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge is the one who judges...

I thought this over. In fact, I think the jury is the group who sends the accused TO the judge after having determined guilt or innocence. How often does a judge overturn the jury's decision? Uh, never? Once in a million cases??

The ADA did not dismiss those who said they had moral reasons to not want to be on the jury, or that they would not be able to believe witnesses but needed to be there at the scene to make a decision, only those who said they would refuse to look at the evidence, refuse to put someone else's child through what their child had been through, or stated that the accused was guilty already were dismissed.


edit on 17-4-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 11:50 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


A jury passes Judgment: Guilty or Not Guilty.
Jury:
Law A body of persons sworn to judge and give a verdict on a given matter, especially a body of persons summoned by law and sworn to hear and hand down a verdict upon a case presented in court.


A judge passes sentencing: Punishment


When you are on a jury you are passing judgement as to the guilt or lack there of. But who follows details these days.

edit on 17-4-2012 by abeverage because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 01:42 PM
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reply to post by abeverage
 


I agree with you...the jury DOES pass judgment.
Hence the OP.

Would you sit on one?



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 02:06 PM
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I would not wish to be a juror on a murder trial...I realize from too much tv that people can be framed to look guilty .....and this person on trial could very well be innocent ..so NO I wouldn't want to be juror with this major case. If I'd done so, and said guilty.... I think I would often doubt if I did the right thing. And you do NOT play around with people's lives.
Even on the simplest of cases, I'd STILL question - because I have often seen injustices done to the innocents.....real life victims charged wrongfully - not just seen on tv but experienced!

Appreciate the thread. Great job expressing yourself and with feeling!
Enjoying the other contributions as well, and I may learn a thing or two here

SnF from me!
edit on 17-4-2012 by SeekerLou because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 03:34 PM
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reply to post by SeekerLou
 



Even on the simplest of cases, I'd STILL question - because I have often seen injustices done to the innocents.....real life victims charged wrongfully - not just seen on tv but experienced!

I, too , have been wrongfully accused.....and that was one of the questions the defense attorney asked.
I described my experience....(had to do with my baby boy sustaining a spiral fracture to his leg)....how awful it was, how scary to be "the primary person of interest".....

I agree with you; and in the future, if I am called again for a case of this magnitude, I think I will "pass."



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 03:56 PM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
reply to post by Nite_wing
 


Are you still working as an attorney? Have you ever been summoned? The judge yesterday in the intro meeting pulled out of his pocket a summons....
and one of the people on my panel was the Mayor!

Here in my state, no one is "excused"...except felons with a conviction within the last 10 years.


I have been called but not served.
I would not want to sit on a capital punishment case because I do not believe in the death penalty. It is not that I am against society killing the scum of the pond. I simply feel that use of the death penalty against the worst of the worst, is used to justify those marginal cases where guilt is sometimes iffy and rests on lying or mistaken identities of witnesses. The penalty is irreversible. Those released from death row by DNA evidence, I believe justifies my fears. Without DNA, innocent people would have been killed along with those who do deserve it.



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 05:35 PM
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Another thing.
A jury is the judge of the facts.
The judge is the judge of the law. His duty is to determine what is or is not admissible as evidence.
He also passes sentence but usually sides with the jury's determination of death if that is what the jury decides in a separate trial.



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 05:41 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 

a jury in a courtroom does not pass judgement... the Judge does.

they help determine the innocence or guilt of the implicated party.

a 'majority' is a cool thing... they even helped to determine if the sky was in fact blue back in the day. I would say it is the western way of life imo.



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 05:46 PM
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reply to post by Nite_wing
 


the death penalty cases I have seen have been closed court... open to the public cameras but not in debate of the one to be punished actions.

can anyone refresh my memory if it has been determined by a jury of peers before? (in modern day)



posted on Apr, 17 2012 @ 11:49 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


So in other words you just wanted jury duty because you thought/hoped it would be "fun"? Seems shallow to me.



posted on Apr, 18 2012 @ 07:50 AM
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reply to post by lonewolf19792000
 



So in other words you just wanted jury duty because you thought/hoped it would be "fun"? Seems shallow to me.

That's because you want to see me as "shallow". I learn by experience. I thought it would be INTERESTING...and I want to experience as many things as I can in this lifetime. I am a student of human nature and life. I am a thinker.

You obviously don't think about anything but how right you are and how wrong everyone else is....who's shallow?

Why did you even reply to this thread? Just to call me shallow.

EDIT: And furthermore....
I figured it would be YOU and the other zealots who would jump on this question! But I guess it is too "philosophical" for you folks who just run around judging everyone else who is on ATS every single day....my mistake...

of COURSE you wouldn't want to talk about JUDGING someone as a SINFUL.
*slaps forehead* and here I thought the thumpers would be the very first to come declaring how much they are against judging someone else.

Yet, you paraphrase what I said about it being an adventure of sorts, and an interesting experience...to being "fun," and then call me shallow!

How very, very ironic. But I bet that goes right over your head, doesn't it....
Who's the one who claims "people don't come here to learn, they come here to make us look like idiots" ??
Uh, not me.




edit on 18-4-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-4-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-4-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 18 2012 @ 08:03 AM
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reply to post by SeekerLou
 



I would not wish to be a juror on a murder trial...I realize from too much tv that people can be framed to look guilty .....and this person on trial could very well be innocent ..so NO I wouldn't want to be juror with this major case. If I'd done so, and said guilty.... I think I would often doubt if I did the right thing. And you do NOT play around with people's lives.
Even on the simplest of cases, I'd STILL question - because I have often seen injustices done to the innocents.....real life victims charged wrongfully - not just seen on tv but experienced!


THANK YOU SO MUCH for answering the question, SeekerLou. I'm rather surprised it seems to be of no interest to those several here whose very lives revolve around "judgment" and "sin." Perhaps I should have put it in the Philosophy forum....but my specific question was about faith-based refusal to be a juror....

and thanks for appreciating my contributions, too...



posted on Apr, 18 2012 @ 08:11 AM
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It does seem like you were excited about doing Jury Duty and were hoping to get a good/interesting case and that it would be a great and new experience for you... an insight into the inner workings of the Justice System...


So....


What's the problem?

It's not going to be fun, It's going to be extremely difficult and you're probably going to hear things and have to discuss things which usually you probably wouldn't want to discuss


I think you've finally got your wish and that you should just do it... it's an experience and something that may well be a once in a lifetime opportunity.


I did Jury Duty about 10 years ago for 2 weeks.

Had two cases and neither were particularly serious or disturbing but I did I find the whole thing to be fascinating, if a little long winded and boring.


ETA:


I see the edit at the bottom of your OP.

Well I'm not sure faith alone should be a reason not to do it... although there of course is "judge not lest ye be judged yourself" and all that... I'm not entirely sure that was speaking about it from a legal point of view, there have always been laws and rules, religion itself is full of them

You would have just been doing your civic duty and as long as you were honest and did your best with the evidence and facts provided, I'm pretty sure god would not have a problem with it.

However, I'm sure also, if you felt strongly enough about it...you could also get out of it by using religious grounds.


Anyway, you didn't have to do it..


And the moral is?

Be careful what you wish for.


edit on 18/4/12 by blupblup because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 18 2012 @ 08:45 AM
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reply to post by blupblup
 



And the moral is?

Be careful what you wish for.

Perfect. Yup, you are right....

it was pretty significant to me that while I was sitting there as a candidate, I suddenly realized that maybe I didn't want to do this after all....

go figure. And it also reminded me of other times I'd wanted something and then found myself thinking "uh oh. What am I doing here?"
Your initial statement is spot on -- I thought it would be a worthwhile experience, give me an inside look at what only a few people actually go through -- until I realized the gravity of the situation for the accused, and of course the impossibility of restitution to be ordered for the victim.

I'd have been doing my civic duty, yes...I wasn't really thinking in terms of "God's" opinion or feelings about it. But when another juror brought it up, I thought, hmmmmm....he has a point. I wonder what the ATS "apologists" would have to say about this?

Seems they're not reading or getting the question, though. Oh well. Shows to go ya!



posted on Apr, 18 2012 @ 08:48 AM
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reply to post by SisyphusRide
 



the death penalty cases I have seen have been closed court... open to the public cameras but not in debate of the one to be punished actions.

can anyone refresh my memory if it has been determined by a jury of peers before? (in modern day)

Not exactly sure I know what you mean....are public cameras allowed in the jury deliberations room...and I believe no, they have never been.
There have been publicly broadcast death penalty cases, though (Casey Anthony)...but the jurors were anonymous and not interviewed or taped during their deliberations, nor shown on camera.



posted on Apr, 18 2012 @ 08:56 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


Yes, I have no problem sitting on a jury. Does not mean I will be much help on one though.




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