I totally understand that in order for our justice system to work, there has to be a jury of impartial community peers. While most people will find any excuse to get out of jury duty, I actually have been anxiously waiting for my time to come around. The last time I had to report, I was put on the bench immediately. I got drilled by the judge about my feelings towards cops; or as I like to call them, pigs. Also came out my libertarian feelings about the prosecution of drugs use. Instead of being kicked off the jury, they waited until the next Monday to give me the boot. Back then I would have appreciated it if they let me off the Friday after my questions.
About a year ago I was laughing, along with a zillion others, about a book called Go The Fuck To Sleep. A book written by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés. What usually happens to me is I find myself obsessing over little details. Which lead me to the artist and the other books he has done. The one that really caught my eye was called Jury Independance Illustrated. It blew my mind. It taught me about a little known right called Jury Nullification. Basically if you're the jury of a court case and you believe or feel that the law in violation is unjust, you are well within your rights to reject that law, and declare the defendant, "NOT GUILTY". Armed with this knowledge I found myself itching to be on a jury and exercising this right.
Last week I got a jury summons. I actually didn't recieve the original notice, but instead got a nasty-gram from the court–threatening to fine me $1200. What? No way. I called in, and told them I could report after Thanksgiving. So I did. Today I went through the whole process and orientation, and waited to get assigned. And so I did. I got the nicest bailiff and the sweetest Judge, totally different than the Lich-judge I got the last time that drilled me about my past. I was totally hoping to get a Drug related case, but nervous about exercising my rights. I had thoughts of arguing with fellow jurors, and the possibility of caving in to pressure. While waiting to get questioned it was obvious what kind of world we live in. If a jury sample is a general example of the pupulation at large, we're fucked. I was the only juror to ever get arrested. I was one of three or four of around 30 that didn't support drug laws (and inherently the war on the drugs.) I was probably the only one with a general distrust of cops. The questions came up, and I answered them honestly. But this time the judge didn't make me feel like a criminal. He was a totally sweet old judge.
I was Jury #16. When #7 was excused by the defence, I was next in line to fill that seat. I got up to take that seat which was literally 5 steps away. Before I even sat down I was excused by the Prosecution. No lie. Everyone laughed.
It seems unfair, honestly. It's supposed to be a jury of peers, not a hand-picked crowd of potentially safe bets. It's totally true that if I was selected and if the defendant didn't commit any violent crimes, I would have probably dead-locked the jury.
I recommend everyone read Jury Independance, and other Ricardo Cortés books.
It's good shit.