Tell the Truth, Get Out of Jury Duty (InformationLiberation)
Monday January 9th, 2012
This morning I had to "serve" my country through the involuntary servitude of the jury system. Fortunately, I told the truth during the deliberations and got kicked off the jury as a result.
It all started with the summons a month or so ago, the government only gave me about 4 weeks advance notice. Fortunately, I didn't have a trip planned, as I've heard stories of people being forced to cut their vacations off early because they were drafted to "serve."
I was dreading taking part in this service the whole night, I realized I haven't felt under compulsion to do anything in years, I felt like I was back in school and remembered how servitude felt like, it wasn't pleasant and I tossed and turned stressing out all night.
When I arrived at the building, the place was packed to the brim, numbers 1 to 451 were called to go in, and sure enough there was seemingly 451 people there, I guess everyone can make it when they're under threat of compulsion. Everyone was searched at the entrance to the building, we're being forced to go there, but they must shake us down and make us empty our pockets, classic government.
When I get to the juror lounge I have to check in, the lady in front of me I heard complaining to the government worker at the desk, "I had to do so much to come here," she said looking for some sympathy, she got none. I presented my letter and on I went into a jam-packed room with 7 or 8 large LCD's hanging from the ceiling. I walked to the back of the room looking for a seat, everyone was sitting with a spacer seat in between them so when I made it to the back of the room I had to ask to squeeze in.
The government worker came on the intercom and said "while she knows people are probably a little miffed, we're all here to serve our country, assure a fair trial," etc. etc. It was clear she was just trying to stem some sort of revolt. Finally they play some video, again it starts with some government worker blabbering on and on for several minutes nonsense just to calm everyone down, "we know you might find this an inconvenience, but you're here to serve," blah blah blah. The video stops, the government worker says if anyone has any reason they can't make a 5 day trial or can't serve on a jury form a line, she joked only 5 or so people should get up. Probably 40% of the entire crowd rose to their feet and formed a line 180 people long. Fortunately, I brought an MP3 player, I listened to Peter Schiff's show for 40 minute straight. After the entire line was processed, we were called up to go into the court room.
I was finally called, I head up to the court with about 100 other people. I was the next to last person to enter the court room, fortunately I happened to be seated at the front in the Juror's chairs which I can only describe as supple. The courtroom is in the shape of a large circle and there's an "all seeing eye" pattern in the circular lights above the court, no doubt to give the impression of respectability.
The judge instructs us the case is an attempted murder case, that means the case will last 3 to 5 days. The defendant was named Alfonso something and he was black, he had a black lawyer who reminded me of Johnnie Cochran, he was dressed very sharp in a nice blue suit. The state's prosecutors were two shrewd older women, they didn't strike me as pleasant to be around.
Eventually the "voir dire" questioning process begins, we're told if any questions apply to you, raise your hand and speak your number. Incidentally, there was a law passed just recently in our county to make all juror's semi-anonymous, you were only IDed by your number and not name, it was rather nice.
"Does anyone have English as their second language and feel it may compromise their ability to judge the case?"
Only one man responded.
The judge asks a few more questions, finally it comes to the magic question, "Would anyone be less likely, or more likely, to trust the testimony of a police officer by merit of his occupation?"
I was the only one to raise my hand.
"132," I nervously forced out.
The other jurors looked at me like I was odd.
After all the questioning was done, I was called up to the stand to explain myself. I walked up and stood with the defendant's lawyer to my left, the two prosecutors on my right, and the judge before me. The judge blared white noise out of a speaker so no one else could hear, he asks me, "So, you said you would be less or more likely to trust someone's testimony because of their occupation?"
"Um... I think the question was about police?"
"Yes, I asked if you would be more or less likely to trust the testimony of a police officer as a result of their occupation."
"Well, I run an alternative news website, and part of it chronicles stories of police abuse. I've seen easily one hundred articles where police perjure themselves on the stand, and they're not charged with perjury after the case is over. I think the incentive structure is out of whack."
"What's your website?!" the state's prosecutor asks.
"And what type of website is it?"
"It's libertarian, there's a section called "Tyranny/Police State" which has thousands of articles of police abuse."
"What's on it?"
"Stuff like police taking people's cell phone cameras."
The prosecutors scribbled this all down hastily.
I'm sent back to my seat.
Sure enough, after a long wait, because my number was one of the first ones, I'm called to be on the jury and take one of the twelve jury seats. The judge says the defendant and the prosecutor can now object if they don't want you on the jury.
First, as far as I recall, was the man who spoke up before because he seemingly did not speak great English, the prosecutor says "Swear him," the defendant and his lawyer talk for a bit, say "Swear him."
Presumably, that means he's on the trial.
I'm second, the defendant's lawyer speaks first this time, "Swear him."
The prosecutors start squabbling amongst themselves, I don't know if it was just for show, but they exchange perhaps thirty words back and forth, I'm thinking to myself, "uh oh, I might actually have to sit through this thing and listen to 10 police officers testify against this guy."
Incidentally, only police were testifying against him, everyone defending the defendant was not a police officer. Judging by the man actually being willing to subject himself to a trial and not take a plea, I'd assume it's likely he's not guilty.
"Thank the Juror and dismiss him," the state's prosecutors say.
"Juror #132, you're free to go," says the judge.
"Aw yeah," I think to myself.
I walk back to the jury waiting room, presumably to be sat on another trial, we were all told we'd be there likely until 4:30, though sometimes it lasts hours longer.
Instead, I arrive and there's a huge line, I see people walking out with checks. My servitude was over, I'm given a $15 check and sent on my way, it was only 12:30.
So there you have it, for those of us who are actually aware of rampant police criminality, escaping jury duty is as simple as telling the truth.
What that means about the pool of jurors who remain, I don't really know. I can't believe out of 100 people I was the only one to say I'd be less likely to trust the testimony of a police officer because of his occupation. Police lie constantly under oath and on the stand, get caught red handed, then face zero repercussions for committing perjury, yet apparently no one in this courtroom besides myself is aware of this.
That's not a good sign.
Chris runs the website InformationLiberation.com, you can read more of his commentary here. Follow infolib on twitter here.