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Jury Duty

Updated on September 5, 2009

Jury Duty or Involuntary Servitude?

Jury duty...we are told it is our civic duty. It is part of the fabric of the American judicial system. We should be proud to serve our communities. What a crock!

Tell me, what am I supposed to do with my son when I am "serving my community?" As a single mother and full-time student working on my PhD, I am living the life of a pauper. With gas over $3.17 a gallon and no childcare, how am I serving my community if I resent the fact that I am forced to do so?

Service should be voluntary. If it is not, we should at least be compensated fair wages for the inconvenience. 

The 13th Amendment indicates that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" shall be permitted in the United States. Jury duty is involuntary servitude. It is a service, that is correct.  It is also true that people do not volunteer for it. Therefore, it is involuntary servitude, and should be considered unconstitutional.

But it won't be. Why? Because our judicial system is not concerned with it's citizens. It is concerned with the convenience of its lawyers and judges, not the struggling citizen for whom it makes a huge difference if forced to lose a day's pay at work. Nor is it concerned with the single mom who has no childcare and is forced to leave her child home alone and face child abandonment charges. 

If you are called for jury duty, here is a list of some of the better excuses I came across researching the topic:

1. Tell them if either counsel makes a motion to limit or restrict certain evidence from being presented during the trial, you'll have a hard time maintaining your objectivity. Such a move will be interpreted by you as an attempt to hide the truth, and you'll be inclined to decide against the party making the motion. Since the lawyers for both sides are not really interested in determining the truth at all (not that anyone's surprised by this), but instead are trying to manipulate the jury's perception of what the truth is, such a statement is sure to drive them batty.

2. Tell them that if the law which was allegedly violated doesn't seem just to you, your conscience won't allow a guilty verdict even if the evidence proves it. Of course, this one only works in certain situations, but the judge and the prosecutor will more than likely team up to bodily heave you out the door.

3. Tell them you believe the mere fact the case has been brought to trial indicates there is sufficient evidence against the defendant to prove him or her guilty. Watch the counsel for the defense turn red and emit steam from his ears.

4. Tell them you believe the prosecution will stop at nothing to get a conviction, even if they knowingly condemn an innocent person. Cite all the death-row inmates who were later proven innocent by DNA evidence.

5. Once when I was actually before the Judge being asked why I should be excused from serving on this jury and it was going to be a trial from someone accused of possession of methamphetamine  and I said that I am a recovering addict and my drug of choice was methamphetamine. I also said that I believe drug addiction is a disease not a crime and the Judge thanked me for my honesty and excused me!

6. All you need to do is mention "jury nullification".  This is the legal concept that a jury can find a defendant NOT GUILTY if they believe that the law they are being accused of is unjust.  Judges and prosecutors HATE the concept because it give juries actual power.  See http://www.fija.org/  for more information. 

7. I wasn't even trying at this point to get out of jury duty, but it worked like a charm!  When they wanted to have me sworn in on the bible, I simply stated "I am sorry, but I believe that book to be a work of fiction, and it would meaningless for someone such as me to swear on it.  Would you have something more suitable for me?"  That was enough for the defense attorney to excuse me.  It seems the defendant had found Jesus when he was in jail, and planned to play that card during trial.

8. I can tell by looking at them if they're guilty

9. The 13th Amendment makes it clear that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" shall be permitted in the United States. Is jury duty a service? Yes. Do people volunteer for it? No. Thus, it is involuntary servitude, and should be considered unconstitutional. It won't be, of course, because our present system of juries serves the lawyers, and we are a nation of lawyers, not men.

10. Tell the truth. In many cases the judge will ask if you can render a fair verdict on the case at hand. Since you are opposed to being there in the first place and resent the defendent for causing this ruckus, you really can't give a fair verdict.

11. Explain to the judge that if either lawyer tries to limit or restrict any evidence from being presented, you will be unable to remain objective since it is obvious they are trying to hide the truth.

 

Really want out of jury duty? Try a Voodoo doll

 

Great Excuse #1 - Be Intelligent

If the lawyers think they are smarter than you - you are in deep doo doo.

Attorneys want people who can be manipulated easily, they don't want people who can think for themselves or who are morally driven.

Drop some big words. Speak with conviction (pun intended). make sure they know you know your power as a juror by mentioning "jury nullification".

"Intelligence is what you use when you don't know what to do." Jean Paiget

Voodoo Justice

Ochosi is the Santeria Orisha that represents the forces of nature, and justice. He is the patron of prisoners and the accused. He symbolizes balance, judgement, and reason. Ochosi's colors are blue and orange, his most recognizable symbol is a bow an arrow. He is described as beautiful, a wild hunter who wears skins.

Great Excuse #2 - Know Some Cops

Remember, you are not supposed to know anything about the law as a juror. You are supposed to be completely ignorant. So, make sure you let them know that your best friend is a cop who talks to you all the time about the latest cases and changes in the legal system.

And make sure they know that you would most definitely give a cop's testimony more weight than you average Joe. That makes you biased.

Photo is of King John of England signing the Magna Carta.

The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States, either because it was first published in 1922 or earlier.

Great Excuse # 3 - Know Some Lawyers

Remember, you are not supposed to know anything about the law as a juror. You are supposed to be completely ignorant. So, make sure you let them know that your best friend is an attorney who talks to you all the time about the latest cases and changes in the legal system.

Photo is of God handing King Hammurabi a code of law.

This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

This applies to the United States, Canada, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

Jury Nullification

Jury nullification refers to a rendering of a not guilty verdict by a trial jury, disagreeing with the instructions by the judge concerning what is the law, or whether such law is applicable to the case, taking into account all of the evidence presented. Although a jury's refusal relates only to the particular case before it, if a pattern of such verdicts develops, it can have the practical effect of disabling the enforcement of that position on what is the law or how it should be applied. Juries are reluctant to render a verdict contrary to law, but a conflict may emerge between what judges and the public from whom juries are drawn hold the law to be. A succession of such verdicts may signal an unwillingness by the public to accept the law given them and may render it a "dead-letter" or bring about its repeal. The jury system was established because it was felt that a panel of citizens, drawn at random from the community, and serving for too short a time to be corrupted, would be more likely to render a just verdict than officials who may be unduly influenced. Jury nullification is a reminder that the right to trial by one's peers affords the public an opportunity to take a dissenting view about the justness of a statute or official practices.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

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    • profile image

      Raishiin 5 years ago

      @sdghhte: Sdghhte, you're really an idiot if you think they'd allow someone in office like that if it were true. You just don't like having a half-black president. Oh my goodness, he's part African from a generation or two back but raised American! GAASSP!And Kab, we pay taxes therefore we DO pay for these things. The government isn't magically paying for it while we sit at home giving them nothing. Oh no no, we all have to pay sales tax, property taxes, etc. Pretty sure you forgot about that.

    • profile image

      sdghhte 5 years ago

      @kerbev: You have a responsibility to your government.With a foreigner using a phony ss number and faked bith certifcate infiltrating the white house? I dont think so! F the US government!

    • RAMPOUTcom profile image

      RAMPOUTcom 5 years ago

      I thought it was a service but you have changed my mind. It is involuntary servitude. I would definitely be in favor of changing the law. I was recently called to jury duty which I was willing to do. So I do not fall in the involuntary servitude. But I can tell you, I was very put off at the bottom of the letter that said that if I did not respond that I was breaking the law and could be fined or jailed or both. I am behind any movement to end the involuntary servitude of jury service.

    • profile image

      leintellectuelle73 5 years ago

      You DON"T have the right to kidnap someone & force them to work for almost no pay.I wonder if someday this country will realize that.

    • profile image

      claycactus 6 years ago

      Thanks for an excellently written and informative article and great links. It's just what I was looking for.

    • moderngentlemano profile image

      moderngentlemano 6 years ago

      Thanks for the excellent info- I can't wait to get there and use your advice. Jury Nullification is what I'll go with. I don't believe in the country or in the justice system, so why would I want to be part of it?

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 7 years ago from Upstate, NY

      This country is based on rights and responsibilities. You have the right to be judged by a jury, so you have the responsibility to serve on one. You have a responsibility to your community and your government. This is the same government that will educate your children - providing care for them five days a week, 6+ hours a day, for 13 years at no cost to you. You are given advance notice that you need to serve. If you need child care it is up to you to make arrangements. It is up to you to build a support structure for yourself. There are others in the same situation as yourself. Align yourself with one of them. I hope when you are unjustly accused that the rational people will not have weaseled their way out of service.