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Monday, Sep. 28, 2009 at 4:27 PM
An article on American Jury Duty
American Jury Duty as of June, 2009
As of June 2009, American Jury Duty is an involuntary summoning of American citizens to potentially take part in a jury trial. 1. Individuals are chosen at random as a result of DMV registration or voting registration. 2. After the chosen individuals arrive at the court house, the involuntary chosen individuals sit in a waiting room and they’re name may be called. At the end of the day, only those who’s names are called in the waiting room will be selected for a potential jury trial, everyone else is free to leave and they will considered to have served their jury duty. 3.
For those who enjoy being selected and/or taking part in juries then great!
However, what about others who rather be doing others things then going to jury duty?
Some options and there possible results are:
-Not going to the summoning.
Not going is certainly one way for people who feel they can do it, though eventually the state may attempt to fine or jail the those who skipped the duty. 4.
- Disqualification or legit excuses are options.
Disqualification includes not being a citizen of the United States, being 17 years old or younger or being a resident of a different city from the city summoning you. Excuses include: extreme financial hardship, recent jury service, personal care to another or child care hardship, transportation hardship, active in Military duty, ect. There is also an option to mail in an excuse to the office for review. 5.
-Explaining how you feel about Jury Duty during the interview.
Apparently one individual spoke their mind in regards with how they felt about the system and the judge excused the potential person from the duty. Apparently this individual has spoken their mind several times and each time they have been excused from jury duty. 6.
- If you are involuntarily chosen for jury duty, jury duty can be used for activism. Using jury duty as a form of activism can be done by attempting (when possible) to get someone off the hook from state prosecution. (In other words, to tactically attempt to find the defendant -not guilty-)
As one person put it regarding this tactic:
Various people choose do to other things then go to jury duty “So we all seek to get dismissed and regain our freedom and dignity and get back to our lives.
But consider that if you make the sacrifice and stay on the jury, you may have a wonderful opportunity to fight the system by rendering a Not Guilty verdict for some poor citizen who is being persecuted by unconstitutional victimless-crime laws…
…Even if the jury deadlocks and they eventually re-try,…” it costs the government time and money so it “…discourages…” the government “…from even bringing such cases to trial, the most costly and difficult they become.” 7.
On a similar subject is Jury Nullification.
What is jury nullification?
“Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty" despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. The jury in effect nullifies a law that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant whose fate that are charged with deciding.” 8.
This means juries have the ability to find someone not guilty regardless if the defendant is guilty or not because the jurors believe the law (or system) that got the defendant arrested should be changed.
Whatever options you choose, jury duty does help to add a little bit more to citizen’s control rather then state control.
As Thomas Jefferson notes:
“Trial by jury, the best of all safeguards for the person, the property, and the fame of every individual;” 9.
It does help interests lean a little bit more toward citizens rather then complete control by the state.
As Stuart Christie put it regarding his time as a defendant:
“The positive and important thing…” was “… the fact that the jury system shone out as the last defender of justice…” 10.
Some people, including some people who make up the state, may like to see jury duty become more popular. 11. While the state does many useful things, perhaps if society was organized in a direct democratic manner in neighborhoods and in the workplace and/or in businesses (in various forms), jury duty may be more popular. Jury Duty may be more accepted if people had economic and workplace and/or business democratic control within there lives; especially if the jury duty was voluntary. In a society where the state is replaced by federation, jury duty may not be even be needed. For more information on neighborhoods, businesses and workplaces organized in a direct democratic and federal fashion; please see:
Section I.5.1: What are participatory communities?
I.3.2 What is workers' self-management?
*The AFAQ (Iain McKay. AK Press: Oakland. 2009) has been regarded as “…very comprehensive…” by Graham, Paul; Hoffman, John. Introduction to Political Ideologies London: Pearson/Longman. (2006) pp 109. And as an "exemplar of the principles…” of community governing by Harvard resident fellow Joseph Reagle in: Why the Internet is Good - Community governance that works well Berkman Center for Internet and Society: Harvard Law School
(1998) Retrieved June 20, 2009 from: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/archived_content/people/reagle/regulation-19990326.html
Bibliography and notes:
1. Hall of Justice. Summons For Jury Service Hall of Justice: San Diego, CA. USA (June 2009)
“Failure to appear without excuse or postponement is punishable by contempt and/or fine pursuant to the code of civil procedure, section 209”
2. Ibid. ‘Random Selection’ section on the back of the summons
3. Ibid. Please see the form
4. Ibid. Please see footnote 1.
5. Ibid. ‘Juror Affidavit Questionare’ section on the back of the summons
6. Burbeck, D. A Funny Thing Happened on Jury Duty News :: Civil & Human Rights: Santa Cruz Independent Media Center. 07 Feb 2005. Retrieved June 27, 2009 from: http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/15577/index.php
Regarding the first time: “During that jury selection the Judge asked if anyone believed drug enforcement laws were too harsh or not harsh enough. I raised my handand explained that I felt it is wrong that we have our prisons 75% full of drug addicts when there are so many corporate criminals who are given a
slap on the wrist after stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. The judge said “‘Alright Mr. Burbeck, you are excused‘”. Regarding the second time: “Again, questions were asked of the prospective jury members. ‘Have any of you been on a jury before?’ I raised my hand and told of the trial in
LA where a man was accused of his third offense of car theft and we convicted him and sent him away for life (the "three strikes" law). I explained to the judge that we didn't want to send a man to prison for
life for stealing cars and that I felt the three strikes law should apply to violent crimes only. ‘It was a very unpleasant experience, your Honor.’
I also mentioned that "white collar" crime
penalties should be updated to reflect the magnitude of corporate thieves who steal hundreds of millions of dollars. The judge said ‘Alright Mr. Burbeck, you are excused‘.” Regarding the third time: “The third trial was again for a crack cocain dealer. Again there were many questions to the prospective jurors, one again was do you feel that the punishments for drug offenses are too harsh or not harsh enough? I
again explained that I feel that the judicial system needs reform when Michael Milken was fined 0 million dollars after stealing and cheating
the American public out of BILLIONS of dollars. He spent 18 months in a minimum security prison and was released to spend his loot. "Milken's
punishment for costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars is comically trivial" - a quote from Benjamin Stein who wrote a book
(License to Steal) on Milken's carreer in crime.”
7. Addams, Sam. Second comment in the comments section about A Funny Thing Happened on Jury Duty by D. Burbeck. News :: Civil & Human Rights: Santa Cruz Independent Media Center. 08 Feb 2005
Retrieved June 27, 2009 from: http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/15577/index.php
Also of interest could be the fourth comment on the page by Robert Norse entitled: Please Stay on Juries to Fight Back Against Drug Prohibition Feb 10, 2005. Retrieved June 29, 2009 from:
“This is particularly important in "Drug War" cases. As Sam Addams points out, if you can afford it, you are serving both the individual unfairly arrested under medieval "forbidden drug" laws and the community--which has real prospect of changing this brutal system other than thru juries (the 4th branch of government).For more information on jury nullification, check out: www.fija.org/”
8. Linder, Doug. Jury Nullification. University of Missouri-Kansas City (2001) Retrieved July 5 2009 from:
For more information please see as follows: “For example, our first Chief Justice, John Jay, told jurors: ‘You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge [both the facts and law].’… Judicial acceptance of nullification began to wane, however, in the late 1800s. In 1895, in United States v Sparf, the U. S. Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 to uphold the conviction in a case in which the trial judge refused the defense attorney's request to let the jury know of their nullification power…
…Courts recently have been reluctant to encourage jury nullification, and in fact have taken several steps to prevent it. In most jurisdictions, judges instruct jurors that it is their duty to apply the law as it is given to them, whether they agree with the law or not. Only in a handful of states are jurors told that they have the power to judge both the facts and the law of the case. Most judges also will prohibit attorneys from using their closing arguments to directly appeal to jurors to nullify the law.
Recently, several courts have indicated that judges also have the right, when it is brought to their attention by other jurors, to remove (prior to a verdict, of course) from juries any juror who makes clear his or her intention to vote to nullify the law….As it stands now, jurors must learn of their power to nullify from extra-legal sources such as televised legal dramas, novels, or articles about juries that they might have come across. Some juries will understand that they do have the power to nullify, while other juries may be misled by judges into thinking that they must apply the law exactly as it is given.”
9. Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. ME 15:489. Retrieved June 28, 2009 from:
10. Stevens, Andrew. LOOKING BACK AT ANGER 3am Interview: 3 AM Magazine (2004) Retrieved June 28, 2009 from: http://www.3ammagazine.com/politica/2004/apr/interview_stuart_christie.html
11. Saltzman, Jonathan. Mass. gets tough on jury delinquents. Globe Staff: The Boston Globe (September 26, 2004) Retrieved June 28, 2009 from: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2004/09/26/mass_gets_tough_on_jury_delinquents/
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