Friday, September 19, 2008

Justice


A combination of County courthouse and City police station, this is probably one of our more Minimalist buildings. I'm not exactly sure how pools of potential jurors are drawn up, but I've heard they use voter registration rolls to call people up for duty. American readers will know what I'm talking about. Whenever a criminal or civil hearing or trial requires a jury of twelve people to listen and decide the outcome, ordinary citizens are "called" (with a paper notification in the mail) to appear at a designated courthouse. The court calls far more people than will be required, so the lawyers from both sides of a case can ask each potential juror pertinent questions before they are appointed. They want to make sure you aren't badly biased against one position or the other before hearing the specific facts of a case first. When twelve people are chosen, everyone else can go home, usually with a sigh of relief.

It is the strangest thing, but in Mendocino county, I find I am called almost once every year! When I lived (and voted) in Sacramento, I was called up only one time in fifteen years. Does Mendocino have so many more crimes per capita than other places that we have to be called so often?! It's a big mystery to me, and is one of the hidden "downsides" of living in this enchanted domain.

10 comments:

Laurie said...

I like the angular building next to the free-form tree. Very nice!

I used to get called every year at one address in LA -- but haven't been called in the 8 years since I left that address. (I am now probably jinxing myself...)

Jules said...

You have such an honest face - who could resist you on their jury!!!!

Hilda said...

We don't have trial by jury here in the Philippines. And it won't happen any time soon, I think, not with our current poor standard of education. And we're still battling corruption in government — and that includes the judiciary — at all levels. It's really sad.

Knoxville Girl said...

In Tennessee, we're called up by driver's license registration. Sadly, I think this is because they'll miss the ones who never register to vote. Sigh.

Bibi said...

I was called up ages and ages ago, but since I was living in Europe, I got out of it. I'd like to serve, though.

Halcyon said...

It is a nice looking building.

I've never been called for jury duty (knock on wood).

Saretta said...

I was never called for jury duty while living in the States (until age 25).

p.s. why can't I participate in your sidebar poll? I'd vote for photos and post commentary!

USelaine said...

Laurie - Thanks, as always. Interesting that this frequency can happen in big cities too.

Jules - Many are called, few are chosen. 8^) The good news is I only have been selected once, so far.

Hilda - Well, that puts it in perspective. Thanks for that.

KG - I think they should do that here too. It seems more fair. But if they don't have the attention span to vote, you hope they aren't on your jury if you've been charged with something you didn't do!

Bibi - I think it depends on the case, and how much you respect the thinking process of your fellow jurors. The case I was on involved a schizophrenic woman, and some of the jurors were jackasses, if you'll pardon the expression.

Halcyon - If you're a citizen, and you vote, you probably will be called sooner or later.

Saretta - Ah, now I know why your English is so idomatic and fluent!

One thing I should have mentioned is that even if you receive a "jury summons" indicating the time and place to report for possible selection, VERY OFTEN when call the number they supply on the summons the night before, and you will hear the recorded message tell you that your group number does NOT have to report after all. Thankfully, that happens at least half the time, and you're off the hook.

Thanks everyone!

Kris said...

Jen (my wife), got to say "guilty, your honour" in an appropriately sombre voice a few years back in a big drug running case. The fellow had 75 kilograms of pot in his house and tried to claim that it was for personal use, despite having tested negative for using it!

USelaine said...

Kris - Wow, and to think that worked against him!