Monday, May 17, 2010

Avoiding Jury Selection

I've been stressed out for a week about my appearance today for jury selection. I'm not sure why I stress about it because I honestly think it would be fun -- if I was healthy and unemployed. Or lightly employed. But I'm still recovering from surgery, get tired easily, and absolutely bombarded at work.

It would also help if I could be teleported downtown to the courthouse rather than driving in rush hour traffic.

I had all my documents in order: discharge papers from the hospital and all medical bills and I was fully prepared to go in and make a case for why I should be excluded from serving as a juror right now. And yeah, some of it might have been exaggerated to some extent, but not by a lot. I do tire easily, and I often need to have a horizontal rest during the day. And those benches in the courtroom remind me of church (which only lasts an hour if you're Methodist) and are not good for the back for long periods of time. (However, the juror chairs appeared to be leather and would probably kick some ass.)

None of this mattered in the end as I was excused. I didn't even have to plead my medical condition to the judge.

I was obsessed today with observing other personalities in the room, along with the state lawyers for the persecution prosecution and the defense lawyer. Initially it starts off very well. The lawyers question selected potential jurors about their views on a number of "hypothetical" scenarios. Here and there, a few potential jurors will not answer appropriately and be red-flagged. Some of them have been in similar situations as the defendant which creates a bias.

This particular case was for an aggravated robbery charge. The state of Texas apparently has a law that a person being charged with a 2nd felony has to serve a minimum sentence of 15 years vs. 5 years if it was the first felony. And 25 years if it is a 3rd felony. And here's where I managed to get off, I think, although it probably wasn't music to the ears of the defense attorney.

He posed a "hypothetical" scenario for us in which a defendant, we are told, has had a prior felony conviction. Would we be able to consider the minimum sentence of 15 years or would we have a bias in favor of the maximum penalty?

I found my escape route. I explained that I had a problem with the 15 year minimum sentence based on it being a 2nd felony conviction vs. 5 years for the first, because I'd want to know what the prior felony was for. I didn't elaborate. He seemed confused and asked me to clarify. I said, "if the first felony was for a non-violent offense, then I'd have a real problem tacking on an extra 10 years just because he'd served time for a prior non-violent felony.

Drugs. For instance.

And when txrad and I first moved to Texas, our co-habitation arrangement (on certain nights) would have been classified as a felony if the cops had busted down the door and charged right in. I shit you not.

So, yeah. I do have issues with all manner of three strikes laws involving mandatory and extended sentencing because it's all too easy to see those abused. Two or three violent felonies in a row, and I might say throw the person in jail for 99 years. Or a history of violent behavior without a felony conviction would even carry some weight. But I need a clarification on the felony details. Consensual ass fucking and non-violent marijuana cultivation don't count.

So on that note, I'm pretty sure I was discharged.

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