Sunday, April 19, 2015

Everybody Shows up for Jury Duty

Including, believe it or not, United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Washington Post story notes that this isn't as uncommon as you'd think; Associate Justice Elena Kagan has been called twice, although it doesn't make clear if that is since she began serving on the Supreme Court. Justice Kagan was the Solicitor General of the United States from March 2009 to May 2010 and would have been subject to being called during that time as well. But, as the story notes, she probably would not have been selected. Folks with a lot of experience in the legal field are often passed over for jury service, as it is thought their expertise might unduly sway fellow jurors.

My own profession is also sometimes considered a disqualifier; in the minds of some people the opinion of a clergyperson carries more weight than do the opinions of others. I am pretty well sure that none of those people are close friends or relatives of clergypeople. I have a number of colleagues whom I would not trust to get a pizza order right, and they might include me on a list of the same if they were to be making one.

On the one hand, my low chances of service are kind of sad, because some aspects of the judicial system are pretty interesting when seen up close, as I remember from my previous profession as a newspaper reporter (protected by the same Amendment, just a different clause). Reporters are also not frequent jury picks; their tendency to smuggle in booze and/or skepticism makes them problematic.

But on the other hand, no jury service means a reduction of the number of hours I am required to listen to lawyers, as well as judges -- who, more often than not, used to be lawyers.

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