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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jury selection

I didn't write yesterday because there was nothing to say.  More of the same-sitting in my office with nothing to do and feeling like I was bugging those that I asked for something.  So I stopped.  I left early for an appointment.  That was the highlight of my day.

Today I sat in on the jury selection of a rape trial.  Before I go any further let me say I believe I am more cut out to be in Federal Court.  I like the routine, the rules, the formality of it all.  State court feels like one big social.  The judge finally graced us with his presence at 9:17 for the start of a 9am jury selection and then walked out again for another 5 minutes before saying a word to anyone.  One of the prosecutors came in wearing red patent leather wedges, black pantyhose, a navy blue skirt, sea blue button down, a black leather jacket and a huge green cup.  Sigh.

The judge then had to explain to the defendant that unless there were extenuating circumstances that he would not allow the defendant to change attorneys on the day of trial in hopes of getting a continuance until after the holidays.  Pretty smart move I think.  Even if it didn't work.

I digress.

So, jury selection.  I have seen it done before.  I have done it before.  I have assisted others in doing it.  But, of course, like everything else at this office--this was different.  The usual things were done, the members get badges so we know who not to speak to.  But when they come in-no one rose.  We got a list of jurors on a seating chart and they were placed in the correct seat but it took SOOOO long.  When the judge asked if the State was ready, the prosecutor spoke from his seat.  The Public Defender stood.  The clerk read the oath as a question but asked the jury to repeat after her (i.e., CLERK: "Do you solemnly swear", JURY: "do you solemnly swear").  Sigh.  The jury was told what the case was about-NEVER seen that before.  The victims name (a minor) was given (remember, this is just the jury POOL, not the ones that have been selected).  The judge asked a series of close-ended 'yes' and 'no' questions, about 20-25 of them.  He did not wait for the jury pool to answer.  I guess this was fine because none of them answered anyway.

State's turn at bat => told the pool they are looking for a 'fair' jury. FAIL.  The state gave a mini-opening statement before his 1st question.  He also asked closed ended questions to which no one in the jury answered.

Defense turn at bat => State objected to the first question and the prosecutor glared at the judge when he overruled his objection.  FAIL.  The PD took the time to explain terms and was careful not to call the victim 'victim' but 'complaining witness.'  He did a very good job but the questions were sometimes confusing. 

There was 1 person that was an attorney and married to an attorney.  No one followed up with her.  I haven't determined if this was a major fail or not.

Jury selection was interesting because it was NOT what I was used to seeing.  I saw some things that I will use again and some things that I will NOT be tolerating when I am up against this particular prosecutor.  All in all a pretty good day.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT