Jury Pool Reject

Yippee! I was struck from the Henrico County jury today, and I’m back to blogging. I was fully prepared to participate in the three-day jury trial of a man charged with heroin distribution, but someone — I’m betting it was the defense attorney — gave me the heave-ho.

I don’t know the reason, but I’m guessing it may be connected to when the prosecuting attorney, upon learning that I published a blog, asked me of my political leanings. I replied that I was a fiscal and free-market conservative. But conceivably, the defense attorney deemed it a mark against me when he asked if I regularly read the Metro section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and I replied that I had. Maybe it was the combination of the two — uh, oh, we’ve got a conservative, 64-year-old white guy here who faithfully reads the crime stories in the local newspaper!

What defense attorney in the world would want me on the jury?

This is only the second time in my life that I’d been called for jury duty, and it was interesting to view the process of jury selection from the inside. The jurors represented a broad cross-section of Henrico County society in terms of race/ethnicity, although the panel probably skewed to older citizens and middle-class occupations — no derelicts in this group. That may have something to do with the fact that felons are excluded from the jury pool.

When asked if any of us, or any of our close relatives, had been the victim of a crime. one woman said her father had been murdered, and one fellow said two of his friends had died of heroin overdoses. Another woman owned up to having worked for the Drug Enforcement Agency, although in an HR capacity. Needless to say, all three were struck.

After getting a look at the defendant — he looked somewhat elderly, with a scruffy, gray-white beard, not like the stereotypical street thug — I’ll be curious to know what happens to him. Maybe I can read about it in the Times-Dispatch.

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8 responses to “Jury Pool Reject”

  1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Brilliant failure, Jim!



  2. CrazyJD Avatar

    A. This was probably not his first rodeo.

    B. You don’t take a jury unless you have enough priors that your sentencing guidelines will screw you if you take a judge and are convicted. (Juries don’t use guidelines)

    C. The least the jury can give him per heroin deal is five years. He must have terrible priors. First time out under the guidelines would be less than five years. It sounds like he’s proceeding on the theory that he has to beat the charge, which is probably based on the testimony of a snitch.

    D. How would you have felt about snitch testimony?

    1. Good question about snitch testimony. I don’t know how I’d feel. I’d have to appraise the credibility of the snitch. How hard were the police leaning on him? Was his testimony consistent and believable?

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    both the prosecutor and defense go through this dance to try to exclude whoever they think is a threat to their interest.. it goes beyond left/right politics to how people feel about specific things… and sad to say the deeper thinkers and well read will get booted… they’re after people they can more easily persuade!

    The last one I was thrown off … those with College level education were systematically exposed and booted.. the final selected jurors.. were not exactly PHD types!

  4. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Never been on a jury, but picked them a few times. Unless you have money to waste on experts, it’s an educated guess. I tried to find people who seemed responsible, happy with life and willing to listen. Gender or race/ethnic background didn’t matter much.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    last one I was on – we spent more than two hours with both lawyers asking mucho questions of the people in the jury pool and eventually tossing out 3/4 of them.. That was my second time and cross checking with others.. finding that that is not the exception..

    One might think that a jury is any old random one selected. nope.

  6. Rowinguy1 Avatar

    I’m like TMT, never sat, but picked quite a few juries many years ago and in another state. I’ve always wanted to get the chance, but I may never. Got called a couple of times when I lived in the City of Richmond, but in 18 years in Chesterfield, only once. When I asked at that time to be excused due to my legal duties, I was, and have never been tapped again.

  7. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I was in a pool once and showed up several mornings during a two week period but never got seated (a nice scowl always scares the defense lawyers), but I did notice that the hardest working man in the courthouse was Joe Morrissey. He always seemed to have something going on in GD or Circuit, a real energizer bunny act. As a reporter I always loved covering murder trials, always went over to the GD court looking for human interest stories. Everybody should spend some time watching the real process, not the one you see on TeeVee.

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