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eJuror Will Lead To New List of Jury Duty Excuses 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the bringing-the-wisdom-of-youtube-commenters-to-federal-justice dept.
coondoggie writes "Now you can say your jury duty request got lost in the cloud, or that the network was down, or the Internet ate it. That's because the US District Court system is close to completing a rollout of its national eJuror system that lets prospective jurors have the option of responding to their jury questionnaire or summons online. About 80 of the 94 US district courts have had the eJuror software installed and more than half of those courts are already live on the system."
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eJuror Will Lead To New List of Jury Duty Excuses

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  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:30PM (#34284524)
    Saves me the trouble of getting my Jedi robes out of the attic so I can be kicked off the jury in person.
    • by Stregano (1285764)
      At least you are not putting on a full body Furry suit. That thing gets hot sometimes
    • Re:I'm all for it, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HogGeek (456673) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:49PM (#34284718)

      I hope you, and others that "dodge" jury duty, get into legal trouble soon!

      So you too can be judged by the "unfortunate ones" of the world that weren't "smart enough" to get out of jury duty. You know, the illiterate morons that end up finding the innocent guilty, and the guilty innocent...

      Why do you feel it's ok to take an essential part of the civic infrastructure for granted?

      • Re:I'm all for it, (Score:4, Insightful)

        by brainboyz (114458) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:57PM (#34284830) Homepage

        Maybe because it costs some of us hundreds or thousands of dollars per day we're not able to work? Because they hold court during hours most people are working? Because they have so many stupid nonsensical rules that they use more juries than they should to prosecute people in the course of "protecting people from themselves?"

        Some people don't like wasting their time with the joke.

        • by HogGeek (456673)

          It's a "joke" because good people don't serve, not because the process is bad...

          Money is, in my opinion, the poorest excuse...

          • by 0racle (667029)

            Money is, in my opinion, the poorest excuse...

            Ya that $5 a day they hand out is sure going to feed a family. The court used to compensate people for their lost income, but that was when $5 a day was a good compensation.

            And before you really bitch and moan about people having to make a living, how I should have god knows how many weeks and months of money saved up, I can't serve on juries, I'm ineligible.

        • Re:I'm all for it, (Score:5, Insightful)

          by timeOday (582209) on Friday November 19, 2010 @04:06PM (#34284936)
          Wow, what a nice summary of contemporary America. "I want everything set up perfectly to maximize my rights and my productivity, and I shouldn't have to pay or sacrifice anything for it because it's all thanks to me and nobody else!"
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rubycodez (864176)

            ah, but mandatory jury duty is a mistake, a lapse in the judgment of those that founded our country just as slavery. For it too is involuntary servitude with inadequate compensation. So either it must be done by volunteers, or by proper compensation. By eliminating the 80% of cases that are unnecessary (frivolous lawsuits, prison-system-cartel fodder of victim-less crimes), we could institute a judicial system worthy of a truly free people.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:32PM (#34284542) Homepage

    If you think you're a fair person, being on a jury is not a bad thing.

    Even better, being a fully informed member of a jury

    http://fija.org/ [fija.org] --(Fully Informed Jury Association)

    • If you think you're a fair person, being on a jury is not a bad thing.

      Even better, being a fully informed member of a jury

      It's neither in the interest of the prosecution nor the defense to pick fair, fully informed jurors. They want folks who can be manipulated through testimony to sway to whatever verdict they want.

    • "...being on a jury is not a bad thing."

      I don't think any mature, relatively educated, and civic-minded citizen disagrees. The problem is when the ideals and procedures for jury duty were written America was mostly an agrarian society, the pace of life was much slower than it is today, and local government made more of a difference in their lives, making it more likely that they would be involved. Today, with federal taxes requiring an accounting degree to be understood, federal regulations of all kinds being part of life, especially if you just

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        Voting is a "hassle"? Then please, don't vote. Jeez, if you can't take a little while to educate yourself on the candidates and propositions that you care about, don't vote. (I do exactly that -- in this last election, I didn't cast a vote on ANY of the people running, I only voted on a few of the propositions that I cared about.) I do it in person, but since it's such a big hassle for you, you can even become a permanent absentee voter.

        I guess I'm amazed that most companies don't still pay them when th

    • by Thing 1 (178996)
      In MA, I "got out of jury duty" by answering the question, "is a police officer more or less likely to tell the truth than a civilian?" My answer was "slightly more likely, perhaps 55%", and I was sent back to work. I actually wanted to be on this jury. Oh well, fuck the smart ones, right? (My thinking was that a police officer has been trained to recall information; and I know that eye-witnesses are notoriously incompetent; so, I figured, the ones that received the training would be slightly more likel
  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:34PM (#34284568) Journal

    The Prosecutor and Defense both write out long documents outlining their cases, available on an audio file, which gets submitted to Jurors online and they get to view the case without any kind of prejudice (You don't know the sex/race/age of the alleged criminal or victim unless it is important to the crime at hand).

    The bickering between the two will be just like any other internet forum, the judge is like a Moderator, and rather than a jury of a dozen peers or so, it can be done by any amount of volunteers from 4chan or by some Amazon Cloud support team or something.

    I know I know, there's a lot of things wrong with doing it this way - but is it really any worse than the way its done already?

    • Another Bright idea from the think-tank!

      Why not have a relational database with pre-existing cases and their judgements - so that when presented with the facts of a case - and the jury's decision - it automatically knows which sentence to pick! No more of this "Celebrities get off easy/Joe Blow bankrupt for life" stuff!

      • by HogGeek (456673)

        Oh man, don't you know!

        We don't use relational databases anymore. They don't scale [highscalability.com] /sarcasm

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Um, that's pretty much what happens before you get to trial.

        The precedents are there, and the lawyers compare the case to them, and try to get the other side to settle based on the results of the case being used as a precedent, because if the precedent is correct the court is almost 100% certain to do exactly that.

        It's not strictly a relational database. More like content-addressable memory.

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      The Prosecutor and Defense both write out long documents outlining their cases, available on an audio file, which gets submitted to Jurors online and they get to view the case without any kind of prejudice (You don't know the sex/race/age of the alleged criminal or victim unless it is important to the crime at hand).

      The bickering between the two will be just like any other internet forum, the judge is like a Moderator, and rather than a jury of a dozen peers or so, it can be done by any amount of volunteers from 4chan or by some Amazon Cloud support team or something.

      I know I know, there's a lot of things wrong with doing it this way - but is it really any worse than the way its done already?

      Oh god. A legal system ran by 4chan?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Yes.

        Do they send out Nobel Prizes by mail? I know its the best idea ever, but I'm a little busy arguing on the internet so I won't have time to pick it up myself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Jesus_666 (702802)
        "...In closing, while we do acknowledge that Anonymous does not forgive, we want the record to show that my client did it for the lulz. The defense rests."

        Verdict: Innocent, but all lawyers in the room get sent to death row. kthxbai.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      but is it really any worse than the way its done already?

      Yes. It cuts out the ability to look witnesses and the defendant in the eye. Non-verbal communication is important, particularly when someone's liberty is on the line.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)
        I can't see out of one eye. I always look at people funny. You wanna sentence me to jail when accused, for that??? (People always look over their left shoulder, at "what I'm looking at"; my left eye goes toward the middle, and leads them to think that. What else might this lead them to think, in a courtroom???)
    • by blair1q (305137) on Friday November 19, 2010 @04:01PM (#34284870) Journal

      First, because the system is based on history, not logic. It was invented before logic was, and it has to complete its task even in a total absence of logic. If the lawyers choose to introduce logic, then that's their strategic choice. Generally one will, and the other won't.

      Second, because the trial changes as it goes on, and argument is fluid. Information from one part of one person's testimony can drastically alter how other witnesses testify, and whether they even do testify.

      Third, because questioning witnesses elicits more honest responses than prepared statements do, and watching someone answer a tough question elicits more information than the words in the answer gives.

      Fourth, because part of the purpose of the trial is presenting the case to the community. Both to give the community closure and to keep the government's pointy end open to scrutiny. Merely adjudicating the facts of the case is something any king can do from the bathroom.

  • Top judge says internet 'could kill jury system'
    The jury system may not survive if it is undermined by social networking sites, England's top judge has said.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11796648 [bbc.co.uk]

  • Jury selection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:37PM (#34284618)

    First: For those of you who think avoiding jury duty is an option rather than a duty -- thanks for avoiding one of the simplest and most basic requests that our country makes of you in exchange for citizenship. You must be proud.

    Second: If the request gets lost, it gets lost. It doesn't matter whether it's eaten by a computer, an angry mail processing machine, or the dog. Lost is lost. You'll get another summons.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I don't avoid the jury duty. I just know that I'm never going to be chosen because of my views and my knowledge on a broad range of topics would keep the BS from either Liar .. er Lawyer out of the deliberations.

      • The idea that educated people aren't selected for a jury just isn't true. I've served, and I have a doctorate in microbiology -- and there was another professor on the jury as well. Obviously both the defense and the prosecution want to eliminate people who would be biased against their side (and take turns doing this from the initial pool), but there is no reason why the educated can't be unbiased.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uprise78 (1256084)
      The 35% income tax plus the 8.5% sales tax I pay are more than enough of a sacrifice to pay in "exchange for citizenship". Having to on top of that take unpaid days off is ludicrous. I might as well just hand my while fucking life over to big brother.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Feel free to leave or vote for other candidates. You do not have a right to shirk your civic duties.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by nasalicio (122665)

          No, but you have a human birth right of free will. No one can force you to do anything against your will. Obviously there can and/or will be penalties for exercising your right of free will at times, but thats a choice some people are willing to take in some areas.

        • You do not have a right to shirk your civic duties.

          You certainly do have a right to shirk civic duties...especially when those duties go against what is the right thing to do. Best example would the fight for Civil Rights in the 50/60's. If your conscience tells you what your government is doing is wrong...it is your right to stand up to that government to right that wrong. For instance...a jury of your peers is a cross section of the community...not just a bunch of old white guys.

          In addition...if you are forced to serve on a jury and you feel the proce

      • The 35% income tax plus the 8.5% sales tax I pay are more than enough of a sacrifice to pay in "exchange for citizenship".

        Even in a high income tax state, you'd have to have both a pretty enormous income and a complete absence of any deductions and credits -- a combination of factors that generally do not occur together -- to actually pay a 35% income tax rate.

      • Re:Jury selection (Score:5, Informative)

        by eggnoglatte (1047660) on Friday November 19, 2010 @09:45PM (#34288330)

        You don't pay those taxes "in exchange for citizenship", you pay them for living in the country and using the infrastructure. This should be obvious, since non-citizen greencard holders pay the same taxes.

        Voting and jury duty are pretty much the only civic duties directly associated with citizenship.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tanktalus (794810)

      My wife was summoned for Jury duty. The date for appearance was approximately 1 week prior to our first child being due. We quickly asked for her to be excused on the grounds that she'd be as likely as not giving birth in the court room. (Turns out the child was 6 days early, so labour would have started during any jury questioning.)

      I got a summons for jury duty that asked me to appear about 3 weeks later. I don't think the ink was dry on our request for my wife to be excused before this one was on its

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        I doubt I would have made it to trial, assuming that the case involved actually got to trial, merely due to my cynicism. One of the lawyers would likely have asked me to leave before the trial started.

        This isn't so much for you since you obviously don't give a shit, but for anyone looking to actually serve on a jury, don't spout off about your cynicism and biases when they're screening you -- just give the answers you know they want to hear. Once you're actually on the jury, *that's* when your opinion matt

    • one of the simplest and most basic requests that our country makes of you in exchange for citizenship

      Except it's not. It should be. In my jurisdiction, you have to sit through an hour-long video that eviscerates nearly every juror protection and right set forth in the past 200+ years, agree to that, and to follow all orders the judge gives, and then you can be seated on a jury. Even worse, if you know anything about the case or the person you're supposed to volunteer that information and be excused from

    • by chudnall (514856)

      For those of you who think avoiding jury duty is an option rather than a duty

      It's my duty to avoid jury duty?

    • First: For those of you who think avoiding jury duty is an option rather than a duty -- thanks for avoiding one of the simplest and most basic requests that our country makes of you in exchange for citizenship. You must be proud.

      When you miss that time from work and can't pay your bills because your employer will not reimburse you for serving (worked for too many which will not) ...let me know how good you feel when my family goes hungry or loses our home. I am proud when I'm providing for myself/my family.

      It's not as simple or as basic as you paint this to be. Putting a hardship on someone or their family makes this "simple and most basic request" not simple and most complex.

  • My answer ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:46PM (#34284692) Journal

    I'm a Libertarian who believes in Jury Nullification. I also believe that as a jury member I can ask questions of witnesses beyond the questions directed by either side, and I won't hesitate to raise my hand to ask questions neither side is willing to ask to get at the truth neither side is really after.

    If we're bound by the idea that if it is a "law" that it is legal, then we end up with the Senator Palpatine style "I will make it legal"

    • Re:My answer ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sribe (304414) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:51PM (#34284742)

      I'm a Libertarian who believes in Jury Nullification. I also believe that as a jury member I can ask questions of witnesses beyond the questions directed by either side, and I won't hesitate to raise my hand to ask questions neither side is willing to ask to get at the truth neither side is really after.

      Actually, there's a gradual movement where states are slowly allowing jurors to ask questions. I think eventually this will spread to all states.

      Now you don't get to raise your hand and blurt it out mid-testimony. Questions are submitted to the judge in writing, reviewed, and passed on to both sides if appropriate...

      • Actually, there's a gradual movement where states are slowly allowing jurors to ask questions. I think eventually this will spread to all states.

        Now you don't get to raise your hand and blurt it out mid-testimony. Questions are submitted to the judge in writing, reviewed, and passed on to both sides if appropriate...

        Every once in a while, I read something on Slashdot that restores my faith in humanity. Letting jurors submit questions to the judge is something that is long overdue:

        Juror #4: "So, Mr. John Wilkes Booth, the police found you slicing off pieces of flesh of the victim, with a bloody knife, and then eating them. Do you have an explanation for this?"

        Juror #9: "Mother Theresa, you seem to have trouble just walking into the jury box, can you please explain, as the prosecution asserts, how you punched Michael

      • If the jury has a question they hand it to the clerk, and the judge gets to decide if it gets asked. Works well in that it maintains the order of a court room (a court isn't supposed to be something where anything goes) and protects the defendant's rights and so on, but lets the jury get relevant information that they have an interest in.

    • by Nukenbar (215420)

      That's why, as a former prosecutor, you would have never making it onto my jury.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blair1q (305137)

      >If we're bound by the idea that if it is a "law" that it is legal, then we end up with the Senator Palpatine style "I will make it legal"

      The law was made by representatives elected by the people. Until the constitution says there's a Senator Palpatine who has the power to make something legal on his own, that's not a good analogy.

      Juries are bound to follow the law. They get to decide if the facts in the case fit the law. They don't get to decide not to convict even though the facts fit the law. Thei

      • Who voted to let TSA commit acts of sexual battery under the guise of security?

        Not all laws are voted on. Even if laws are made, doesn't make the legal. The law once said "separate but equal" but someone nullified that with the court system. Juries are part of the court system.

        If enough juries start ignoring the "law" the law becomes nullified. If enough Juries knew they could nullify the law, we'd have useless and dangerous laws revoked.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        How is this possible if regular citizens cannot or do not understand the law, as so many lawyers like to point out? Don't say that the judge or lawyers will explain it, that would be having a sinecured magistrat who have the power to dictate what the law means to fit the facts of the case when they don't or to color the definition of the law in a way that a dozen average people would find untrue.

        By having the court TELL juries how to vote, they circumvent the system. It is the lawyers job to try to con
  • If you're any good with reasoning and logic. Try to serve on a jury. TRY! Give them the answers they want. I've been through the jury selection process and see who they pick as your "peers". God forbid if you ever have to be trialed and all the reasonable jurors made up excuses to get out of jury duty.

    • You don't give them the answer they want, you give them the answer you think is right. Don't try to be part of the jury and don't try to get out. Just go there the day you are called answer all the questions truthfully. If they don't want you, your out. Otherwise you are in.

      • by quatin (1589389)

        The system is flawed. Your jury of peers are full of the most easily manipulated people. People who are malleable and submissive, often the un-educated. This is how wrongful convictions occur, by an imbalance in skill level of the opposing attorneys.

        The ideal jury would be those with good reasoning ability and highly educated. Those who can see past the bias of the presentation of evidence and testimony to form their own opinions of the case. These are the people who can form a neutral opinion. Therefore, I

        • Your jury of peers are full of the most easily manipulated people. People who are malleable and submissive, often the un-educated.

          Whenever I'm up for jury duty, people keep telling me that the attorneys never pick people in the sciences because they're harder to manipulate.

          Is there any truth to that?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rick17JJ (744063)
      I was a juror on a one day trail earlier this year, here in Arizona. As the jury selection process was starting, we were all very relieved to hear that this was expected to be just a one day trial. Because of that, no one felt the need to try to get out of jury duty.

      If any of us had really wanted to get out of being on the jury, there was a certain answer to one of the jury screening questions which would have most likely caused us to not be selected. There was the question of whether or not we thought that
  • by eepok (545733) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:50PM (#34284734) Homepage

    I know I have a better understanding of science & technology (through hobbies), law (by education), logic & fallacy (by education), and value my integrity more than the vast majority of the public. I love to see the process in action (even though I decided not to be part of it professionally).

    I have, though, considered it an imaginary dream job to simply serve on juries day-in and day-out. Professional Juror! Critical thinking, creative solutions-- civil and criminal cases alike.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:59PM (#34284856)

    Even though I haven't lived there since 1986. My mother, who has nothing else better to do, calls the number on the letter, and tells (brags) that her son is working on another continent. She has repeatedly requested that my name be removed from the list, which doesn't seem to work. She was called up herself, but given that she was over 80, and has heath problems she didn't want to serve. But neither the DA or the defense wanted to excuse her. Did they think that old ladies can be manipulated?

    Anyway the case was against a cop from her town being charged for using excessive force or something like that. She was finally so frustrated at not being excused, that when the judge asked her at the end, if there was anything she would like to say, she answered, "I could never find a police officer from my town guilty." I would have thought that the DA would have asked her that, but I guess he was hoping that he had a senior citizen to manipulate.

    When my father was called up jury duty, he told me how the selection process went. He was a quiet person, but a very astute observer. Both the DA and the defense kicked off anyone prospective juror who had half a brain. The first question presented to him was about his education and profession. Both the DA and the defense attorney stood up, the judge laughed, and said to my father, "Go home."

    Now that I am older, and could afford to spend to spend some time on a jury, I wouldn't mind doing so. But I would probably get chucked as fast as my dad did.

    • I served on a jury in Wake County (NC) and my experience was the opposite. To a person all 14 of us were college educated and about half the jurors had higher than college level education. The only people who were excused were people with ties to law enforcement and people who had been on the receiving end of law enforcement in the past.
      • Note to self: If accused of a crime that I didn't commit, get the jurisdiction transfered to Wake County (NC). And try the pulled pork.

        Yossarian? What kind of name is Yossarian?

        It's Yossarian's name, sir.

      • I served on a jury as foreman in a small town in Indiana (Nashville).

        Background: 2 city cops were railroading a guy all of us perceived as innocent (the cop lied 3 times during testimony and deposition).

        During selection, they started with 40 people. 20 were immediately dismissed due to questionnaire. Out of the 20, the school superintendant dismissed, family with law enforcement ties were dismissed, as were others that had conflict in the case. And I had broke my shoulder 3 weeks prior, so im in a sling. Ev

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      I think it may depend on the area. I've seen some trials where some smart people have served. An interesting major case with that would be the Terry Childs case. One of the jurors had a CCIE. Means not only is he extremely smart, but extremely knowledgeable in the technical aspects that will come up. However he was chosen to serve. There is no universal truth to selection in my experience.

      As for stupid summons I've got a good one:

      My mom is a Canadian by birth, and never bothered to immigrate to the US (well

    • by Thing 1 (178996)
      Yep. I did too.
  • It seems that if people have the option to run away from this responsibility, the people who choose to do so are the ones who we wouldn't care to have on the jury anyway. I don't know about everyone else, but if I was being convicted of a crime I didn't commit, I would rather have the people that are willing to take the time out of their lives to do so, then the ones who will vote the way of the majority in order to end the process quickly.
    • I read an article about this a while back. IIRC, juries are generally made up of old people, who also bias female, government employees and union members. Everyone else has to work or take care of their kids. The stats get stronger based on the length of the trial, which makes sense. I served on a trial that was one week, which was the same amount of time as the jury duty. Any longer and I would have had to bail because I couldn't afford to take unpaid time off.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        You cannot be out of work for 1 week?
        What would you do if you lost your job or your employer closed down?
        What would you do in the event of a family member or even animal you own becoming ill or injured?

  • ...trial by jury, who, by some random coincidence, all also happened to be computer hackers.

  • election judges make more for 1 day work then some jurys make in 2-3 days.

    jury pay should be at least $100-$200 a day + transportation expenses. And $300 + a day if you are sequestered overnight.

  • they have us on it this year. All it saved me doing was dropping the survey in the mail or handing it in at the baliff's office. If I had needed to get out of going downtown I could have entered my reason on-line, but the notice itself came in the physical mail. As I have the past two years, I was dismissed before we even got into a court-room for the lawyers to talk to us. I donated my $6 to help at risk youth.

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