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Jury duty, part I – The summons

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In my February 2nd jury duty blog, I had griped about being selected for jury duty. At that time I had hoped that it would mean a wasted day in the courthouse where you just sit around the entire day and then learn that you weren't selected for any trials.

After arriving at the courthouse, I and the rest of the summoned people were herded into a room, where a pleasant jury administrator gave us an orientation and played an educational video about the jury process. She mentioned that most of us would not be picked for a case and that would still satisfy the obligation, meaning that those people were off the potential juror list for three years.

No such luck for me. I was indeed picked for one of the two cases going that day. One was a medical malpractice case slated to go for about 2 weeks, the other was an auto injury case estimated to last about 3 days. When I was called in to meet with the lawyers, I thought that perhaps I'd just play up my prejudices and get booted. But once in the room getting grilled, I decided to go with the flow and answer their questions fairly. I'm not a good liar anyways.

The questions were rather general, like how do you feel about lawsuit awards, and have you ever been injured in an accident. They also included a couple of fairly private, but not overly prying questions like age, marital status and children's ages, and whether I was happy to perform jury duty. I answered them honestly and, no, I wasn't happy about being there. Apparently they must have liked my answers, since shortly thereafter I was informed that I was selected.

I don’t know how the court systems operate in other states, but in Connecticut, and for this civil case, the jury was made up of 6 people and 2 alternates. We were 4 men, 2 women, and the alternates were both women. We were from a variety of backgrounds and ages. There was forklift operator, a civil engineer, an animal cop, a store manager, and so on. It was interesting to notice how random chance had brought us together to decide this case.

The case itself was a plain vanilla car accident. Woman1 had made a turn into a lane where woman2 was approaching and a collision had occurred. Woman2 was suing for medical bills and pain and suffering; economic and non-economic damages as we were told by the judge.

Up to this point my legal knowledge was pretty much at the level of old episodes of People's Court (remember Judge Wapner?), Perry Mason, and Law and Order. The first being a small claims court cut for TV, and the latter two being TV dramas of criminal cases. What we did in court bore little resemblance to my limited theatric knowledge of the justice system.

 

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