Try to curb your jealousy but I spent the last two days at mandatory jury duty. Two luxurious days of rubbing shoulders with my peers and hardened criminals who, for the sake of law, are classified as "my peers." Which prompts the question: In what universe is an alleged murderer my peer? Anyway, when I got inside the courthouse I was thinking, "No sweat, there are hundreds of people here; I'll sit in the juror lounge for the next two days, do some work, and never get picked." WRONG. Right when I was getting comfortable -- sipping my coffee and burying a few silent ones into the chair cushion -- the proctor says, "everyone is going to be put on a case today." WELL F*CK.
My mission quickly changed. If I had to be there, some good was going to come of it. And I don't mean the kind of good where I actually become a juror and do my civic duty. What I wanted to take from this was a better understanding of how to best assure that you NEVER get selected to be a juror.
The next thing I know, the proctor's pulling our name cards from a bingo-like machine and my name is immediately picked. The first 70 people chosen (I was in this lucky group) head to a courtroom, while those left in the "jury pool" would be sent elsewhere.
When we got in the courtroom we filed into pews (not the ideal seating for blowing discrete gas) and the judge did his song and dance. He let us know that of the 70 of us sitting there, 12 (and two alternates) would be selected to serve on the jury of a criminal trial. He then told us the case was for alleged gun and cocaine possession, which included a claim that the defendant held a girl a gunpoint. Like "barrel in the back of the head, I might execute you because I don't like the way you smell" kind of gunpoint.
Before the individual juror interviews took place, the judge asked broader questions to the whole group. That's when the fun began; people started to belt out every excuse in the book why they shouldn't serve on this particular jury. Suffice it to say, more lies were told by jurors in the last two days than witnesses will tell on the stand in the next five.
After the judge asks his universal questions about physical ability, pending trips you can't get out of, if you've been convicted of a crime or know anyone convicted of a crime (half of the jurors claimed to), etc., the bingo machine came out again and the court clerk randomly selected the first set of 18 people to occupy the juror box for questioning. These people are the guinea pigs. The people you learn from. What works and doesn't work in the interview process. So with the stage set, here are the best excuses I witnessed, or maybe possibly used, to get released from jury selection and sent back to the jury pool.
Have a definitive, unchangeable opinion on the case.
My case wasn't cut and dry. The defendant "allegedly," at one point, possessed the gun and cocaine. He wasn't even caught with it, so without actually sitting on the case or outing yourself as a racist, no rational person could say "I think that f*cker's guilty. Look at him, he's sitting there in a full heather grey sweatsuit." (Which he was, it was beautiful how he accented it with throwback Nike ACGs.) If you're on a case, however, where you can form a logical opinion before being picked, do it and vocalize it. Lawyers have no use for opinions they can't sway.
Quick example: A few weeks ago my sister had jury duty. She was a prospective juror for a case about officers getting too physical with a woman during an Occupy Wall Street riot. When asked if she could be impartial, my sister claimed she was adamant that she had no sympathy for the girl, that the girl put herself in that position by being there, and she had the opportunity to remove herself from that situation. She may have also mentioned that the girl's time would have been better spent trying to find a job than Occupying Wall Street. My sister's a son of a b*tch. And got herself right out of jury duty.
Pretend you can't read or have trouble understanding English.
At one point on Monday, five ladies in a row pretended they couldn't comprehend, read, or speak English. Each was immediately excused. I was immediately jealous. This is a bulletproof excuse for someone not born in the U.S. and can fake an accent and ignorance.
Claim that you're a primary care provider for an infant and your spouse can't keep taking days of off work.
This won't get you excused from sitting there in the jury lounge for two days but it'll get you out of being on a case, which means two days is the maximum amount of time you'll serve.
Say a loved one is having serious surgery and/or died.
Highly effective. Really morbid. And you're f*cked if they ever ask for proof.
Pretend you have a serious physical ailment.
This one's tough to fake without evidence or saying you have a deadly disease but you could conceivably say you have the flu or you broke your ribs the night before and sitting in the jury box would be an inescapable hell. No one used this excuse, but the judge asked if anyone felt they couldn't physically perform the jury duty. If you want to pull this off you better come in looking like hammered dog sh*t.
Say you're a doctor that only deals with terminally or critically ill patients.
One doctor in my group stood up and said those exact words listed above and the judge excused him without question or hesitation. Two seconds later, seeing the other guy's success, a dermatologist stood up and the judge all but laughed in his face. Sit the f*ck down, Pimple Popper M.D.
The judge will cut holes in every excuse you think you have. So sometimes your first excuse isn't enough. On Monday, in an impressive five-minute span one lady threw three huge bombs at the judge. Playb*y didn't even blink at the first two. First she played the "my mother recently died and I only have 12 days left to deal with her estate" card. Judge refuted saying, "You'll have plenty of time, this case will only take five days." Then, seconds later, she said, "Well, I also have an elective surgery (looked like a prime candidate for puss rejuvenation to me) scheduled for next week." The judge again refuted: "You knew you had to be here for well over a month. If it's elective you can reschedule it." Finally, on her third attempt, when she claimed to be related to a convicted criminal, the judge said f*ck it, and excused her.
Jury veto (also known as jury nullification)
Every juror is asked the question in some way, shape, or form: "Do you believe that you can judge the case solely on the basis of the facts and the law, and not on your opinion of whether or not the law is right or just?" If you say "No, I disagree with the law, I think cocaine should be legal and people should be able to destroy their lives as they see fit" you'll be excused. This is the best and easiest way you can get dismissed as long as were not talking about a murder or rape case.
And finally... If you're dealing with a criminal case personally relates to the crime at hand.
Here's where some people really capitalized. It's the perfect way out of any criminal case. No defense attorney is going to allow a victim of a similar crime on his client's jury. Simple enough to claim, but the kicker is making sure they couldn't prove it didn't happen to you.
Remember how I said the defendant held a girl at gunpoint? Well, question #6 on the juror survey turned out to be a fastball down the middle of the plate. The question was: Have you ever been the victim of a crime? And, if so, were the cops involved? Out of our entire group of 70 people, at least 20 said they'd been mugged or robbed at gunpoint.
The honest truth of it all is unless you really want to be picked to sit on a jury, you have every opportunity not to be. So how did I get dismissed? Easy, I told them I wrote vulgar smut for site called BROBIBLE.com. They wrote me off as an inept retard almost instantly.