A Jury of Your Peers — Part I

Paul Simon famously sang , “I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers; still crazy after all these years.” His point, of course, was that a crazy person should be judged by other crazy people, since the accused has the right to a trial by a jury of his or her peers.

It doesn’t work like that. Hardened criminals don’t have a jury of other hardened criminals. White collar criminals might have a leg-up, since jury pools are chosen from lists of registered voters, and more white collar types vote than hardened criminals… or at least one would think.

I’m in a jury pool for the next two weeks. Woody Allen once said that in our system of justice the accused is judged by 12 people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty. Personally, I don’t look at it that way, and I don’t want to get out of it. I had to reschedule due to my travel schedule, but I don’t mind serving. It will be my third time. The first two were over within a few days. The thought of being on one of those juries that gets sequestered for months doesn’t sound very appealing, though, and I WOULD try to get out of that.

The first trial I was on was a civil case that was basically a disagreement between a contractor and a homeowner. One wanted to be paid, and one wanted the work finished. We had to discuss things a while to come up with our verdict, and I think it was fair.

The second trial was in Federal court, and it was about drugs. The prosecution laid out a very compelling case, and the defense attorney… court appointed, I’d guess… gave it the old college try, but he didn’t have anything to work with. So, that deliberation wasn’t difficult.

I’ve often thought that if I commit a crime, I want a jury trial. If I’m innocent, I want the judge to rule. I’d rather take my chance with one judge than risk a jury of 12 people who may not even be paying attention. That’s probably an unfair characterization, but the O.J. jury showed that juries aren’t infallible.

The worst part of jury duty is the waiting around part. I have a couple of books to read, so that will help. Maybe I’ll do some writing, too. If they have a TV in the waiting room, there will probably be Judge Judy and the others to watch.

When it’s all over, I’ll have done my civic duty, and met some people I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Depending on what happens, I may be singing a different song two weeks from now, and I may have been driven crazy by the trial, but if it’s good enough for Paul Simon, it’s good enough for me.

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