Jury Duty 2013

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Jury Duty: after 4 days of picking Jurors, they finally asked me questions and decided I wasn't one of the droid they were looking for, and they let me go. Primarily, it got to questions about why I taught Martial Arts, and saying, "because I really don't like bullies" was all it took for the preemptory challenges to let me go free, with a fist bump from another juror.


Jury Duty: after 4 days of picking Jurors, they finally asked me questions and decided I wasn't one of the sheeple they were looking for, and let me go. Primarily, it got to questions about me teaching Martial Arts, and donating my Dojo income to home for Battered Women and Children for a few years, and they asked "why?", and I said, "I don't like bullies". And that was it.

The case

This was a case about a few gang-bangers beating up some guy for saying the wrong thing, and they wrongly assumed I couldn't be objective. If they had problems with me, they were going to be on whole different dimensions. But the waste in the process (of all of our time), was amazing. It's like the lawyers get paid by the hour or something. Details


OMFG the Jury Duty from hell!

Well, I suppose it could have been worse. But still 4 days of the Jury selection process is excruciating.

First, San Jose hasn't figured out the magic of WiFi out in the waiting room. They have it in theory, but it doesn't work for anyone. I mean it's only the heart of Silicon Valley, and WiFi is hard. I mean you have to buy a $39 router from Fry's and then plug it in! Of course this is the same city that is tearing up my street in order to REDUCE the lanes (make traffic worse), and put in an island so I you make left turns, and they put in ugly art around the city, because, "other people's money". All while they can't afford enough to pay the cops.

Second, it was a gang violence case with 4 defendants -- so 4 x defense attorneys and one prosecutor. So not only did we have to go through 34 questions for each potential juror (about 88 people). But each time one would start with some lame-assed excuse about why they couldn't do their job, the Judge would tell them an allegory about her life (or life in general) to explain why "yes, they can think Gang's are bad and they don't like them, but can they listen to the facts in this case before making up their minds?" And so on.

Most are repeating the same lame excuses that didn't work before. You want to smack them upside the head and ask if they'd like some cheese with their whine, not to mention "if it didn't work for the last person, why do you think it'll work for you?" (Not to sound unsympathetic... but I felt like saying, "here's a straw, now suck it up").

Stories like, "My mom was once yelled at by a cop for speeding when I was a kid, so I don't think I can be fair to cops", some guy that speaks perfect english in the waiting room on the phone, and then speaks in a thick accent, "I ca no undastand wa da lawya does say an mean, so solly" (then they let him go, and he's practically on his cell phone on the way out saying, "yo Dude, the judge bought that fake accent shit"). And a dozen other variants of that intellectual waterboarding.

De ja vu all over again

After 3 days, and we finally get it down to 12 people, and 4 alternates... and they're getting to taking the oath (and about to let the rest of us go). I'm practically giddy. And some a lady is like, "Oh this is going to last until mid January? I'm unemployed so I need to be available to interview". The judge lets that person go -- and then the lawyers start chucking others off and burn through all the alternatives. So the same bullshit a 4th day, with 18 more new people.

I got picked as one of the potentials, finally, and it went about how I expected.

Not a droid they were looking for

They asked me, "what crimes have you seen, had happen to you, or been accused of? Do you work with legal or ever been in a lawsuit, or have any cops that are family or friends?" and questions like that. Since they'd done that to the 87 potential jurors in front of me, I was quite prepared. I wrote a page full of items in advance, since I knew it was coming: see below. Thus, I could blow through them faster. It took a few minutes talking quickly to list many of them out, and I still missed a few. The lawyers and Judge sat there slack-jawed, but the jurors were chuckling, then laughing. It sounds more impressive when it's all spewed at once, but it’s just life.

2 hit and runs (once walking and once riding a bike), I stopped a rape, stopped a car robbery (Gang related), I was jumped behind a theater (sucker punched once, but I broke the guys foot when he tried to kick me), I had my car stolen, I had multiple things stolen out of my car (different times), multiple death threats (I used to write, and my charming style earned some enemies), our house in San Jose was mildly burgled after we bought it, and my uncle is doing elder abuse but the system is completely powerless to stop it. I also witnessed a hit and run, a liquor store robbery, saw a suicide, found a different body/suicide, and had a friend murdered over not paying his drug dealer (we assume). I work with Legal at Adobe, I've been in a lawsuit (someone plagiarized my book), also a liability lawsuit over car accident (Conroy's Flowers), I have 2 cousins (in-law) that work for SWAT, and I taught martial arts for a dozen+ years (including cops, ex-gang members and ex-cons as students).

I forgot a few things like 9 different bike thefts, underground night clubs raided by the cops, or the time I scared off a pedophile/drug-dealer in the Hollywood Hills. Nor did I think they wanted to hear stories about explosives or the things I did that I didn't get caught on. So I gave them a greatly abbreviated version of my experiences with the law/lawlessness.

The judge asked me if any of the cases had been solved or gone to court.
Me, "Conroy's and the Plagiarism suit settled out of court".

The prosecutor asked me, "you didn't mention if you'd ever been accused of a crime". I told him, "thanks, I forgot. Yes. I was accused of street racing when I was a kid. I was just driving like an idiot, but I wasn't racing anyone". I mentioned I got a lawyer, and fought it, and pleaded it down to a speeding ticket. (Which is all I was really doing in the first place).

So he asked if I was bitter with the cops over that experience, and I told him "No. While I was innocent of that particular infraction, and the cop was a jerk that walked around my car trying to nail me for everything he could, there were other times I should have gotten a ticket for being stupid and I didn't get caught or a cop let me off, so it all works out". (The court laughed at that).

He asked if my experiences with lawyers had tainted me to lawyers and the process. And I almost replied, "sure, but it's nothing that a good, hot shower wouldn't scrub off", but I went with the milder truth of, "They're just doing their jobs".

A bunch of people where whining about how they couldn't take the oath because the judge wouldn't tell them the details of the law was yet -- so how were they were expected to rule on something that was immoral or wrong?

The judge and them would spend 5 or 10 minutes going back and forth with them explaining that they just need to be impartial enough to hear the case before making up their minds. But they were only ruling on guilt of the person, not the morality of the law. And so on.

And after about 4 of those, I took the microphone and explained (as much to the other jurors as to the lawyers) that while I believe part of the reason we have a Jury trial is that jury nullification is the last defense against a corrupt system or to protect against legalized crimes against humanity or things like the 3/5ths of a human being (that one troll was rambling on and on about), since this was a simple gang violence case, I would trust that the court would not ask me to rule in favor of something that was against natural law or the inalienable rights of other men. (One Lawyer had to look away and cover her mouth to keep from laughing). I didn't hear anyone else bring up that excuse after that.

They had asked others about whether they watched a lot of crime/cop shows, and what they thought of 12 Angry Men.

They wouldn't have liked my answer at all, because that guy was guilty as hell, and the Jury were idiots to let him go. My sincere tirade is that to me, it's not reasonable doubt to assume that someone would scream they were going to kill their Dad, have two different witnesses see him stab or flee the scene, and his only alibi was that he was at a movie that he can't remember a single detail to -- at the exact same time that someone stole his identical knife (that he lost the very same day), and stabbed his father (for no known reason), and snuck out without anyone seeing or hearing a thing (or else he looked just like the plaintiff). I was hoping they had asked me what I thought of TV crime shows, because THAT honest answer would have had the defense hyperventilating to get me off the jury.

But it never got that far.

They went to put me in as Juror #1, and the defense thanked me for my service and let me know that I could go. I wasn't the droid they were looking for.

One of the girls in the audience gave me a fist-bump as I left.

What an inane and retarded process the lawyers have turned jury selection into. 88 people tortured for 4 days, because random isn't good enough. And a 4 week trial is scheduled on top, for something that should take about 4 hours to decide -- which was all about the mitigating crime of were they in a criminal gang or not and should that extenuating circumstance apply. (They'd already agreed to the fact that they beat the guy up).

List of answers

Crimes I was involved in

  • 2 hit and runs to me (once walking and once riding)
  • I stopped a rape
  • I stopped a car robbery (Gangy)
  • I was jumped behind a theater
  • I had my car stolen
  • I've had multiple things stolen out of my car (different times)
  • Death threats (San Diego, Sacramento)
  • Our house was mildly burgled after we bought it

Crimes I witnessed or friends

  • Hit and Run
  • Liquor store robbery
  • Friend murdered over not paying his drug dealer
  • Saw a suicide (Santa Monica)
  • Found a different body/suicide (High School)

Working with Legal

  • Work with legal all the time, at work
  • Been in a lawsuit (plagiarism) on a book I wrote, I won
  • liability lawsuit over car accident (Conroy's Flowers)
  • 2 cousins that work for SWAT and detectives
  • taught martial arts (had cops, ex gang members and ex cons alike).
  • Few friends in motorcycle clubs

TV shows that are relevant <- real question

  • Watched the OJ and Rodney King Trials
  • Watched law & order, Suits, and a bunch of the crime/legal shows
  • 12 Angry men: I thought the jury were idiots. The odds of someone threatening to kill their Dad, loses their knife, 2 witnesses conspire to frame you, you can't remember anything about the movie that you claimed you saw, and no on saw you there, on the day your dad gets stabbed with the same exact knife as you lost, by someone who leaves no evidence? Puhlease

Answer to vague question about Jury Nullification

I was surprised they didn't ask me more about Jury Nullification answer, I would have probably gotten thrown off for that. But it was my job to answer question, not get on a soap box. Unless this case is something like Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 (blacks being 3/5ths of a human being) -- or you're asking us to adjudicate on a topic about crimes against humanity, I don't think Jury Nullification is going to apply. But I had a few mental examples where nullification would apply.

For example, if someone received credible death threats and they decided to carry a gun, illegally, because California is violating the spirit of the second amendment by not giving out any conceal and carry permits in some counties -- I would likely not convict (unless they showed he was endangering the public). Natural law, and Constitutional Law should override a bad local regulation, and a stupid prosecutor. The same for a case where if a guy was blowing through red-lights to get someone to the hospital for an emergency. And so on. The law doesn't supersede common sense and natural rights (self preservation).

But Jury Nullification works the other way too. A Judge can say, "you must ignore that piece of evidence" or what you know to be true based on information obtained outside the court (like watching TV, Internet, etc). And someone could convict on that anyway. Evidence should be presented based on its merits, not based on whether it's prejudicial. And I really, really don't like that they try to keep you ignorant. ("You're too dumb to be able to look at evidence we don't want to talk about"). I'd follow directions anyways -- because it's not for me to challenge the system in that way. But it's dumb. And if I saw it, and could verify its voracity, I'd think it applies (no matter what a court/judge says).

The judge had preached a few times on Stare Decisis, and how great it is. But if she'd brought it up to me directly, I would have been happy to talk about how while we should try to have consistency across our courts, when it's a bad ruling, it should still be resisted or ignored, no matter how old it is. (If it is egregious enough, etc). And we shouldn't let a series of incremental precedents erode the original intent: no matter the intentions of each individual ruling.

But the end result was, the defense lawyers didn't want my kind on there: a self thinking engineer type, with some understanding of legal issues, and neither complete trust nor distrust of the cops.

Written: 2013.12.17