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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jury Duty

It's funny, whenever someone I know gets jury duty they have to seek me out to tell me their story. I guess it is because I was a "professional juror" for about a year and a half a few years ago. Yes, you read right I said PROFESSIONAL juror. I can say that because somehow I was chosen to have the "honor" of serving on a federal grand jury.

Usually when one gets jury duty you serve a couple days and you are done. In fact the first time I had jury duty I never even saw the courtroom - just the waiting room!

However, a federal grand jury works very differently. Grand juries don't simply hear one case and are done as most juries do. Grand juries rather hear the evidence in cases that the federal prosecutors are ready to indict. They don't find the defendent guilty or not guilty. In fact they don't even hear the defenses side of the case. The job of a grand jury is to hear all of the prosecution's evidence in a case and decide whether or not there is probable cause (meaning is it possible that the defendent committed the crime).

Since it takes a while to train a grand jury and you might actually hear the same case over months (while still hearing other cases also) grand juries serve six months actively. For six months you serve 3 days a week for 2 weeks a month. For a total of six days a month. After that you can be recalled up to 4 days a month for the next year!

As you can imagine, this was really quite annoying for many of us. There was 2 other teachers beside myself who had to be out of the classroom constantly. There were people who if they didn't go to work that day didn't get paid for that day. Yes, we received a stipend for the day but let's face it - it was the government it wasn't much!

It is very amusing that anytime a coworker gets jury duty they have to seek me out to commiserate. As if there one or two days (at the most) makes us have a shared experience. When their life is completely taken over by jury duty. When they spend more time there than at work at time. Then they can say we have something in common. Until then they should just be happy they got a short term sentence!


  1. That's fascinating and had to be so annoying. I'm deathly afraid of being called to jury duty, I can't even imagine what it would be like to be on the Grand Jury. Yikes. But it sounds like an interesting experience for you anyway.

  2. I've never had the "pleasure" of having jury duty. My aunt served on a murder case several years ago and actually found it very interesting.

    You have an award waiting on my blog!