May 28, 2004 spout

Jury Duty

Friday, May 28, 2004

Today was the first time that I was called to jury duty, even though I’ve been eligible for almost half of my life. I always dreaded being called when I was a consultant because the $10/day didn’t cover a day’s meals, let along the revenue I would miss as the sole breadwinner of the family. However, much like the body puts off illness when you just can’t afford to take the time (stress has its uses), my dread seems to have put off my jury duty til I had a full-time job with enough redundancy to live w/o me for a day or so.

Even when your job pays, most folks seem to want to get out of jury duty in any way possible. George Carlin says that the best way to get out of it is to admit to the judge that you know how to tell if someone is guilty, It’s all in the distance between their eyes…” Personally, I’m a believer in America’s system of justice (I’ve often fantasized about a life as a prosecuting attorney and as a judge), so I didn’t mind serving my turn on a jury. Unfortunately, it was not to be. While I went down to the court house, my number wasn’t even called to appear on one of the two juries needed today.

Doing a little math, I found out that the overall odds of me actually being on a jury were actually pretty low. Here are the stats:

  • 47 people showed as potential jurors on 2 juries

  • 28 were called for the 1st jury, of which 12 were needed

  • 15 were called for the 2nd jury, of which 6 were needed

  • According to the State of Oregon Washington County Jury Director, 70% of people that show up for a trial see the assembled jury and decide to take the plea bargain after all

  • Therefore:

    • Folks called to jury duty that were actually put on a potential jury: 91.5%

    • Percent of juries, once formed, that are used: 30%

    • People called for a jury actually placed on that jury: 42%

    • My chance of actually serving on a jury today: 11.5% or less than 1 chance out of 8

    • The opportunity to make the US justice system real for the brothers Sells w/o them actually committing a crime: priceless