Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Grand Jury

I had the honor to serve on the Grand Jury all day yesterday, thus fulfilling my responsibilities to the county for the next two years. Truthfully, I would gladly serve every quarter, which is how often they convene it.
We heard and voted to indict 45 cases. What a bunch of bad boys and bad girls! And such stupidity is astounding. Lots of DUIs, and driving with revoked licenses, meth promotion, paraphernalia, and actual meth, pills, and weapons in the hands of convicted felons, aggravated assault, criminal mischief, burglary, witness coercion and public indecency. Even one inciting to riot. Makes me want to stay home, locked down and under the bed.
What got me was that the big family names around here, seem to have two branches. Those outside the law and those who uphold it. And often the victims are also in that same family. Several jury members had to leave the room, as they knew or were related to either or both the perps or the vics. (Notice my instant handling of the jargon).
The way it works, The Law comes into the courtroom to define the alleged crime, giving the particulars and naming the arrested individuals. (around here no one calls them the police, it's The Law) Then after 15-20 of these cases are heard, we voted whether they probably committed the offense. Easy peasy. But that is leaving out the comedy. Here's a slightly altered (for secrecy, of course) scenario:
Two couples are drinking in a bar. One set, the marrieds have been shopping all day and have a carload of new stuff. The other 'dating' couple decides to break into their car and rob them of the new stuff. The thief says he is going to the men's room and does the deed, putting the loot in his car, but forgetting that he has left his hat at the scene of the crime. He meets the robbed couple on their way out of the bar, and runs to his car, but his girlfriend-accomplice had already driven away with the loot. The married couple find they've been robbed and know by the remaining hat who done it.
Enter the cops who take the perp home to retrieve the loot, and find only part of it is there, the girlfriend having taken it away. Two days later she shows up at the bar wearing the stolen clothes. Now how stupid is that?
Charges include: theft, resisting arrest, public drunkenness, and DOR (no license).
On and on it goes.
I was quite impressed with the officers, detectives and the Meth squad team who brought in the cases. Spit and polished is an understatement. I cannot imagine what their days and nights are like in our 'sleepy' county. Thank heaven for their service.


  1. Excitement for the day. Now back to routine

  2. Ever watch "Justified"? Great show, takes place in either Kentucky or Virginia or someplace like that... lots of good story lines with family on both sides of the law, and lots of not too bright folk doing things like what you described in your scenario!

  3. Wow. It must have been kind of shocking to hear such dumb stories. I just hope they stay away from your little slice of paradise. I've only been called once and it was going to be a grand jury with a case that was expected to take over a year. I begged off, and was released because I was planning on moving, but they eventually sent word that it was cancelled. I guess someone pled guilty. I never did find out what it was all about but must have been a doozy!

  4. Jury service in NZ is a little different. If called upon you are given the week that you need to be at court...and there is also the opportunity to be excused by writing a letter explaining why you are unable to be there which may or may not be accepted by the judge. During the week of service you are required to be at the court...along with loads of others. All names are in a barrel and thirty or so are pulled out. If you are one of those you must stay. If not you go home for that day but are given a telephone number to ring and check to see whether you are required every other day of the week. If you stay you are taken into the court room where the charge to be heard is read out and the names of the people involved are revealed. If you know any of the people you must disclose the fact and you are excused...and given the same phone number to call for the rest of the week. The remainder are then left to be part of the twelve good men and true...or not. Names are then pulled out of the barrel. If your name is called you make your way to the jury benches and take a seat. If you actually get to sit down you are part of the jury but the lawyers involved can say 'challenge' at any time until your bum hits the seat...and you are out. They don't have to give a reason for their challenge...you may not fit the profile of who they think is right for the case. Once twelve jurors have been selected the trial begins. At the end of the trial the jury are taken to a room to discuss the case and decide whether the people are guilty or not. The judge advises them before they leave to deliberate...but in a very general fashion..
    He or she cannot sway the jury in any way...just give the legal implications. The jury then nut out the ins and outs until all twelve agree with decision and go back to court where the per elected foreman gives the verdict.
    I have been on juries twice...and the process is slow, sometimes tedious but extremely fascinating. There are some really dumb people among us. I am happy to wear my slippers when it's cold, read the papers daily and stitch away any concerns of life with a cat on my knee!

  5. I wish stupidity was a crime. I've sat in court listening to so many similar cases and just keep thinking that stupidity should be against the law! Then that couple would another charge added and of that one they'd certainly be guilty.

  6. Anonymous5:42 PM

    You're a good, responsible citizen, and your neighbors are lucky to have you. The giggle factor on some of those cases must be off the charts. The first time I was called for jury duty, I didn't have any of the listed 'excluding factors', so they told me I had to show up. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time- so they excused me in a hurry.

  7. 45 Cases? Wow! That's alot! I've served on a federal jury... it was a waste of the court's time. It made me mad that the situation even made it to court. I had pneumonia and they wouldn't excuse me. Every time I coughed the judge stopped everything tell I finished...same thing when I blew my nose... how embarrassing!

    The second was a child molestation and I hoped and prayed they wouldn't pick me. Luckily they didn't, but it took two days to seat the jury.

    Wouldn't it be better if you could knit while you listened?

  8. Whilst waiting for my car to be serviced, I was lucky enough to watch a TV judge dispense justice (not Judge Judy). People do some whack things and think they'll get away with them. I sometimes think that drugs and grog melt peoples' brains.
    I've never done jury duty. Never been called and won't be called whilst I'm in the States.

  9. Annie2:05 PM

    So many people I know try to get out of jury duty. I'm glad you didn't! I've been called for jury duty several times, but only had to serve once. It was in federal court more than 50 miles from my house, so the court payed for my hotel stay during the trial. Those of us on the jury took our job very seriously and I was proud of that. I'd serve again if called.

  10. I have served on 3 tours of jury duty and loved every single minute! It is a good thing to see how the system works and the jurors do take their job very seriously.
    On my last jury duty the judge took us back to his chamber and let us ask any question we wanted about the trial. He was very patient and thanked each one of us afterward. I don't get why so many people don't want to do it. Citizens are very important in this part of the system!

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