Friday, June 02, 2023

Jury Duty "Near Miss"

I got the email from the Ingham County Circut Court yesterday afternoon that I had to report this morning for Jury Duty.  Not a major grumble, it's the price we pay for living in the republic, right?  Apparently the courts are still clearing their Covid backlogs, so we were called in on a Friday.

The lady who did the initial juror intake was what you wish every bureaucrat was - she had personality, a sense of humor, didn't take herself too seriously, and appeared to actually enjoy her work.  Good job, Gloria!

We were in Judge Aquilina's court today.  If you followed the Nasser trial you know who she is.  If you followed the open carry in Lansing Public Library case a few years ago, you know who she is as well. 

I had only been called for jury duty once before, and the case plead out after we all got there so we never went through the selection process.  It was quite interesting to watch.  There weren't enough chairs for all of us in the courtroom, but the Judge said "don't worry, I know how to clear a room quickly - there'll be seats soon".  And she was right.  The first thing she did was read the charges, which were multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct against a minor.  That cleared about half the pool right there - I was amazed at how many people either have had CSC experiences in the past, or had already judged him just because he was there and had so many charges against him, and they couldn't get to the "innocent until proven guilty" premise of our criminal justice process.  I guess it was good that they self-selected that quickly.

Then they seated the first 14 jurors, and the prosecutor went into a very impressive voir dire presentation.  She was very friendly and personable as she went through all her questions, and made all the jurors feel comfortable telling her about themselves and their thought processes.

The defense counsel was not nearly so personable as the prosecutor, but seemed nice enough.  It seemed like he took about 20 minutes for his voir dire to the prosecutor's 90!

What I found interesting about both of their presentations was they were telegraphing how the case was going to be argued, spending a lot of time on reasonable doubt, circumstantial vs direct evidence, determining credibility of a witness, reasons why there would be a delay of several years between the commission of a crime and its being reported.  The defense was not calling any witnesses, so it was obvious he was going to be going after the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses.  That may well have been his only option in a case like this - I don't know.  But interesting to see how it was likely going to play out. I suppose you kind of have to do that as an attorney so you get a feel for what kind of people are on the jury and how they're going to process what they are presented in the trial.

Between them the attorneys dismissed 5 or 6 of the original panel.  My number didn't come up as a replacement, so when everyone was satisfied with the panel, the rest of us were released. Thus, my "near miss".

All in all a very interesting way to spend a Friday.

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