Oh jury duty, I hardly knew ye.
Today the jury selection process continued. Most of the fight had gone out of the potential jurors by the time the FIFTH FREAKIN' LAWYER interviewed them, so statements like, "I cannot be fair!" were replaced with whimpering and moaning. There were three jurors who stood out during the interview process today.
Bipolar Man: ...And so I know that your client's product causes cancer regardless of what you say.
Defense Lawyer: Are you going to think that no matter what the evidence shows?
Bipolar Man: Yes.
Defense Lawyer: So, if I present scientific evidence proving that brake pad dust does not cause cancer, you'll ignore my evidence?
Bipolar Man: Correct.
Defense Lawyer: If I bring several medical experts to the stand who all agree that brake pad dust is not a cancer causer, and the plaintiff's experts do not disagree, are you still going to disbelieve the evidence?
Bipolar Man: Dude! Your product says that it causes cancer RIGHT ON THE BOX!
Bipolar Man was subsequently dismissed.
Plaintiff's Lawyer: What work did you do on a ship, sir?
Juror X: I was a wiper.
PL: Did you work with *mumblyTechnoBabble* ?
Juror X: I did.
PL: What did you do with them, sir?
Juror X: I wiped them.
PL: Did you work with valves?
Juror X: Yes.
PL: What kind of work did you do with the valves.
Juror X: I wiped them.
PL: Did you work on engine parts?
Juror X: Yes.
PL: Did you fix the engines?
Juror X: No. I wiped them.
I don't even recall seeing that job listed on career day. Anyway, Juror X summed up by saying, "Your Honor, I'd like to recuse myself".
Nice try, buddy. I think you have to be a judge to do that. Wipers need not apply. Juror X became a member of the jury.
Plaintiff's Lawyer: Ok, Juror Y, let me ask you...
Juror Y: Let me make this easy for you. (points at defense lawyers) I hate your companies. I'm completely biased against them. I have no doubt that you caused the plaintiff's injury and you'll get what you have coming to you. There's no way I can be fair.
Plaintiff's Lawyer: No more questions, your Honor.
Juror Y was subsequently dismissed.
Out of the 24 people they interviewed, 11 of them got dismissed. I was surprised the number wasn't higher. That gave them 12 jurors and an alternate. We then played the game all over again with a smaller batch of potential jurors to pick 3 more alternates. I sat quietly through this process, since my name was never called. I got to go home this afternoon.
For my closing arguments, I'd like to say that our juror system is totally broken and that people are apparently either stupid or jerks or both. The crap they'll say to get out of jury duty just stunned me, and I'm not easily stunned. There was no way to weed out the jurors who were really incapable of judging the evidence amongst the avalanch of people who were crying wolf (and I would have been one of them, given the opportunity).
In a surprising amount of seriousness, I recommend two alternatives to our current approach
1) Jury duty should be MANDATORY. You MUST serve on a jury. If you get booted from Trial #1, then you'll immediately get shipped over to Trial #2. That way there's no advantage to claim bias. Let the lawyers truly discern if you're an unfair prick. Along with this approach, let's make another rule that all corporations MUST compensate their employees for jury duty. This business where some companies do pay for it and some don't doesn't make any sense.
2) Professional juries. This would be a job that could be held for some fixed period of time, like maybe 2 years. We'd pay for this out of either a corporate tax, or more fairly, just regular income tax. (Frankly, with the current system, since big corporations are subsidizing jury duty anyway, we're all paying for it via increased product prices.) By making the job term limited to a certain number of years, you'd ensure that juries would still be filled with regular people, thus continuing the idea of a "jury of your peers". Lawyers could still boot particular jurors, just as they do now, but you wouldn't have people lying and fighting to get out of jury duty. It would be a paid government job.
ALSO, there should be chocolate chip cookie snacks served by scantily clad sexy waiters and waitresses in both these scenarios.
The jury rests.