Monday, January 24, 2011

Jury Duty for Me 
on a Murder Case?

Fulfilling my duties as a citizen of San Francisco, I reported for jury duty selection today down at the Hall of Justice on Bryant Street this afternoon. This was my fourth time in six years being summoned by the court for potential jury duty.

After hearing from the court clerks and being duly sworn in to tell the absolute truth to the court, Judge James Collins stood at the mic and podium in the cavernous assembly room. He introduced a lawyer from each side of the case, then told us that the matter of the trial was murder. The name of the accused was said, but because of the lousy acoustics I didn't catch his name.

When the word murder sank into my head, and that I might be on a jury in such a criminal case, I'm sure the color drained from my face. I don't want to be a juror to begin with, much less one on a murder case.

It seemed weird and fitting in a cosmic sense, that after a week of contending with the possibility Iran was about to again engage in state-sanctioned hangings, perhaps of a gay related nature, and AmericaBlog's John Aravosis broaching the matter of hanging and an HIV poz person, that I would find myself in jury pool involving murder.

As more than a third of the attendees headed for the exit to go down to the judge's court room on the second floor and plead their cases for hardship and to be excused, those of who remained were given a slip of paper. It tells me to report before Judge Collins on Wednesday morning for the second cattle call in the selection process.

BTW, Wednesday is my birthday, so I'll be spending part of my special day meeting my democratic obligations for the proper functioning of part of our legal system.

If the January 26 selection hearing is like the one when I was in another jury pool involving cars insurance holders, a few accidents and the insurance companies, we'll be asked our views about relevant matters, maybe including our opinions on the death penalty and appropriate punishment for guilty defendants.

Should this murder case be a capital charge, and I'm required under penalty if I commit perjury to state my view to the court on the death penalty, it will be what I said the other day in response to AmericaBlog's rhetorically raising hangings as a suitable punishment.

I am firmly believe in abolishing the death penalty and oppose it's application by any state or government for any reason.

Let's just hope I get excused from jury duty.

1 comment:

Liz Highleyman said...

Actually, no, let's hope more people with principled opposition to the death penalty like yourself get selected for juries (as much of a pain in the ass as serving can be...).