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Alpha Echo
04-20-2010, 10:45 PM
One of my vital characters is a member of the jury for the criminal trial.

In Baltimore, with the summons is a questionnaire for the randomly selected individual to complete before they are called. I tried to access it online, but you have to have a jury number and stuff.

Anyone know what kinds of questions they would ask?

Thanks!

shadowwalker
04-20-2010, 11:24 PM
Google "jury questionnaire" - there are a lot of them online, which should give you a good idea.

When I was on jury duty (Minnesota) they just sent the summons. Nobody filled out anything other than basic vitals (once we got there) and then we were questioned in more detail only as it pertained to the case we were going to be hearing.

Alpha Echo
04-20-2010, 11:26 PM
Why didn't I think of that? I was so focused on just Baltimore since that's where it all takes place. I guess the questions are all similar, but the process varies.

alleycat
04-20-2010, 11:34 PM
I've been on three juries (two murders and a burglary) in Tennessee. My experience was somewhat similar to shadowwalker's. We were called initially, were given a nice little lecture about jury duty being our civic duty, then given the chance of trying to get out of serving if we wanted to try (fat chance these days), but were not asked specific questions until we were actually being interviewed for a trial (the voir dire process).

I'm guessing that if there is a questionnaire in the early stage of selection for the jury pool, the questions are general eliminations. Some professionals such as doctors, school teachers, lawyers, etc. are normally exempt. Also, people with serious medical conditions would probably be exempt from serving.

blacbird
04-20-2010, 11:46 PM
I just a couple of months ago sat through jury duty selection (was never called). The questions asked were about matters the prosecution and defense considered germane to the case being considered. It was a domestic violence case, and was going to hinge on witness credibility and issues of reasonable doubt, so questions focused on those things. The judge also participated at several points, mainly to clarify what the attorneys were asking, and a couple of times to disallow questions.

The only questionnaire I filled out had to do with my background, occupation, education, age, etc. Copies of this were given to both prosecution and defense, and for potential jurors who were called to be questioned, some of this information was reiterated.

caw

dirtsider
04-20-2010, 11:47 PM
The things I recall about the questionnaire (in NJ) that came with the summons were whether or not jury duty would create financial hardship or if I had a job that I couldn't get covered for - I think they were asking if I was a LEO, doctor, or teacher.

MaryMumsy
04-20-2010, 11:55 PM
In AZ if you claim financial hardship/caregiver for a disabled person/critical occupation etc, you have to be able to back it up. At least they have the option of an automatic 90 day deferral. A few years ago I was summoned to appear on April 12. I'm the tax lady, so *that* wasn't happening. Got deferred to July. AZ also has permanent deferral if you are over (I think) 70. I've been called 6-8 times over the years,but never ended up on a jury. I get to go again later this month.

MM

Alpha Echo
04-21-2010, 01:19 AM
I'm guessing that if there is a questionnaire in the early stage of selection for the jury pool, the questions are general eliminations. Some professionals such as doctors, school teachers, lawyers, etc. are normally exempt. Also, people with serious medical conditions would probably be exempt from serving.

All of this is so helpful, and I may come after you guys who've served later if I have more questions.

What if the kid's in law school? If he just said he was a student, would he be able to get around it and get on the jury?

alleycat
04-21-2010, 01:21 AM
I'm not sure, but I think any college student would be exempt if it would affect his class schedule.

Alpha Echo
04-21-2010, 01:48 AM
Shoot. I didn't even think about that.

Actually, that's easy to get around. He took a year off between college and law school...

shadowwalker
04-21-2010, 02:15 AM
I don't know - if people can't get off just because they don't want to miss work, missing a few classes probably wouldn't persuade the court to let him off. And let's not forget not all juries are empaneled, which would also mean he could make other arrangements for class notes, etc. (I doubt the law school would look favorably on a student who tried to get out of their civic duty here, either ;))

MaryMumsy
04-21-2010, 02:23 AM
I don't think being a student is good enough to get out of jury duty, at least not in Maricopa County. The last time I was down at the courthouse (2006?) there was a guy who had driven up from UofA in Tucson. His legal address was here in the county, but he went to school down there. He had tried writing and calling to be excused and they threatened to send a deputy to arrest him if he didn't show.

MM

CACTUSWENDY
04-21-2010, 02:37 AM
I served a few years ago on a manslaughter case. Filled out a questionnaire, then waited to be screened. Trial lasted a week. Some of the questions dealt with things like 'did I have any association stickers on my car'. 'What type of groups I was a member of'. Stuff like that. After being chose for the jury and hearing what it was about the questions all made sense. They were looking for an unbiased peer group. But for one hold out lady, we would have been done with the verdict in about an hour. It ended up taking about five hours. She just didn't want to see the young man put in jail.....sigh. She finally saw the light. (Kind of sad that he killed three and maned one for life just so he could steal a truck, run a red light while tanked up on beer and drugs. He even tried to make a run for it on foot with a cop right there.)

Smish
04-21-2010, 03:57 AM
All of this is so helpful, and I may come after you guys who've served later if I have more questions.

What if the kid's in law school? If he just said he was a student, would he be able to get around it and get on the jury?


If there's a scheduling conflict, he may be able to get around jury duty. With a lot of students, their permanent address is in a different town/county/state than the college, though. In those cases, the excuse for getting out of jury duty would be something like "extreme hardship", and they'd have to explain why (the distance to the court, etc).

Contrary to popular belief, lawyers are not automatically exempted from jury duty. If there's not going to be a conflict of interest (knowing the parties, the facts of the case, etc), they can serve on the jury. Almost everything can be rescheduled, so unless there's a major event (like a jury trial) the lawyer must attend, they can serve. Lawyers are expected to do their civic duty. (And honestly, having a lawyer on the jury can be a good thing -- they know the law, understand the burden of the proof required, etc.).

Now, as for questions that can be asked during voir dire -- they can include just about anything, so long as it's relevant to the matter at hand and doesn't attempt to brainwash the jurors prior to the trial, etc.

(And you can probably find lots of samples if you google voir dire + [relevant case matter, such as DUI or murder or whatever]).

:)Smish

ideosinkrasee
04-21-2010, 04:25 AM
I'm from Baltimore and went to jury duty today. What are the odds, right?

Anyway, it was all boring demographic stuff. Address and whatnot. I wouldn't be concerned about accuracy.

johnnysannie
04-21-2010, 02:13 PM
I've been called for jury duty three times. The questions were all asked during the voir dire process and mostly were to determine who would be seated as members of the jury. Some of the questions were about the case - if anyone knew particular details. The first time I was called, I was excused because it was a murder case and I worked in broadcast media at the time, actually broke the story having heard the initial call on the scanner.

They also want to know the juror's feelings on law enforcement, law, crime, punishments, etc. They ask if you are related to anyone in law enforcement, legal, etc.....especially for the immediate city or area.

They ask if there is any reason why you can't serve...although in my state, MO, there is a short form with the original notice that can be filled out for senior citizens or anyone with chronic health issues that would make serving difficult.

Depending on the trial, they may ask if anyone has known someone who was murdered, kidnapped, in a car accident, etc.

Linda Adams
04-21-2010, 02:31 PM
First thing worth noting--were you are aware that you can actually go down to a courthouse and watch? Most of the cases are open to the public so you can just go down and sit in and watch the proceedings. I took a criminal law course once, and one of the requirements was to watch how the courts worked. When I was called in for jury duty, there were also people sitting in the audience watching.

I didn't fill out a questionnaire in advance either--I just got a date and reported in on said dates. They had all of us sit in the jury box and each lawyer asked us questions. One case was a stalking and the other was a sexual harassment at a company. A lot of lawyers for the second one. The lawyer for the plaintiff, lawyers for the company, lawyers for the company that owned the company.

I remember the second one as being particularly interesting from the questions side of things. The corporate lawyers got up and went right through the questions (most have already been mentioned here, though they did ask if anyone was a lawyer). We just raised our hands when we could answer a question, and they pointed to us. I remember one of the jurors was really whiny when he got asked why he couldn't serve on the jury. He just didn't want to do it, and it came across in his really lengthy reason. The judge fussed at him (he was a former Marine Corps drill sergeant. Not a good thing).

The plaintiff lawyer got up and my immediate impression was that he didn't know what he was doing. The kinds of questions seemed unfocused and like he wasn't sure what exactly to ask. Since this was a sexual harassment case, that question came up--if we'd known anyone, if it had happened to us, etc. That was one I did answer (when I was serving in the Persian Gulf, my unit had a serious problem with that). They called me up to the bench, with both the plaintiff's lawyer and one of the other lawyers. The judge asked me if I could do the case impartially. The best thing I could tell him was that I would do my best. The plaintiff one wanted me to stay on the case and thought I could be impartial. Nope, said the judge. I was off the case.

Also worth noting--how they do this will vary from state to state. I'm from Los Angeles, and they are notorious for having long cases. My mother served on a jury for thirty days; mine in Virginia was one week. I was told the following about my specific county: A celebrity was arrested. The lawyer from Los Angeles trots in and tells the judge how long he needs for the case: Two weeks to pick a jury, six weeks to present his case. At which point the judge interrupted and told him it was would be two hours to pick the jury and three days to try the case. In our county, it is rare to have a case go two weeks. They try to get them all done in under a week. If you can find someone who knows a lawyer in the area, you can ask him questions about how long the cases run.

Synonym
04-21-2010, 03:44 PM
My son was called up for the murder trial of a girl about his age. He was in college at the time. Since they thought it might last for weeks, he and two other students were excused because they would potentially have missed a month of classes.

He really wanted to be on that jury and I'm kind of glad he wasn't.

Alwoody
04-21-2010, 04:36 PM
Just a thought, but if he's in law school, or even if he was, he's bound to know local attorneys, and probably wouldn't get picked for the jury based on that. And around here (Mid-Michigan) being a student wouldn't necessarily exempt you. I know for a fact that being the sole caregiver available to care for children at home and being a nursing mother are not enough.

Alpha Echo
04-21-2010, 04:44 PM
(And honestly, having a lawyer on the jury can be a good thing -- they know the law, understand the burden of the proof required, etc.).

That's what I was thinking!



Now, as for questions that can be asked during voir dire -- they can include just about anything, so long as it's relevant to the matter at hand and doesn't attempt to brainwash the jurors prior to the trial, etc.

(And you can probably find lots of samples if you google voir dire + [relevant case matter, such as DUI or murder or whatever]).

:)Smish

Awesome, I'm going to google that as soon as I finish this post. Thanks!


My son was called up for the murder trial of a girl about his age. He was in college at the time. Since they thought it might last for weeks, he and two other students were excused because they would potentially have missed a month of classes.

He really wanted to be on that jury and I'm kind of glad he wasn't.

Yeah, I think I'm taking the guy out of school for now. He's young and landed a job as a computer tech making decent money and has a sick mom, so he's putting off law school and can afford a month off, especially with flexible hours with his job.

Does anyone know...do they still sequester the jury for a murder trial? Is that the word I'm looking for - where they put them up in a hotel and try to keep them from the general public?

Collectonian
04-21-2010, 07:19 PM
A jury can be sequestered on any kind of trial. It is primarily done for very high profile cases where the judge feels the jury cannot avoid any outside media/information that might sway their judgment, or if there are fears about jury safety (i.e. the 1990 John Gotti trial). They might be sequestered just for the deliberations, or for the entire trial.

Smish
04-22-2010, 03:58 AM
Does anyone know...do they still sequester the jury for a murder trial? Is that the word I'm looking for - where they put them up in a hotel and try to keep them from the general public?

More often than not, no. Generally, there's just an instruction by the Court not to discuss the case with anyone, including family members, etc.

alleycat
04-22-2010, 04:13 AM
Does anyone know...do they still sequester the jury for a murder trial? Is that the word I'm looking for - where they put them up in a hotel and try to keep them from the general public?
As others have mentioned, generally not. But if you need it for your plot, it would be easy to make it plausible that the jury is.

It's funny being on a jury (or it was when I was). When I was on a jury we couldn't call out (if someone needed to get a message to someone, one of the bailiffs would do it for us), but we went home at night. Also, while we were on a jury we were shepherded around like sheep by at least one of the bailiffs. They wouldn't even let anyone get on the elevator with us. One time the bailiff had to keep a "big important judge" (they have since named a government building in Nashville after him) from riding up the elevator with us.

They fed us at a special dining room for jurors . . . the cook's helpers were jail inmates. We used to joke that we hoped none of them were in jail for poisoning someone.

Linda Adams
04-22-2010, 04:49 AM
Just a thought, but if he's in law school, or even if he was, he's bound to know local attorneys, and probably wouldn't get picked for the jury based on that. And around here (Mid-Michigan) being a student wouldn't necessarily exempt you. I know for a fact that being the sole caregiver available to care for children at home and being a nursing mother are not enough.

My father got exempted for a bizarre reason--he got called to jury duty in two different courts on the same day! That took a call to the local Congressman to straighten that one out. Be pretty bad getting called out for not showing up because you were showing up!