Have any of you ever been called for jury duty? Do you know what Jury Duty is? It is an obligation of a citizen to serve on a jury when called. It is a constitutional right, and one of the highest obligations of a citizen. It involves our participation in administering justice. When we are called to jury duty we have to appear in court and if we don’t we can be found in contempt of court. I received a summons in the mail about 2 weeks ago, informing me that I am being subpenaed to show up for jury duty on May 2, 2012.
I will admit I freaked out a little at first. Jury Duty… (what if I am picked and have to decide someones fate!!!). Then I read further and it
said subpenaed to ‘civil court’! Well I was still freaked a little because I have never been called for jury duty. I didn’t want to go, but hey it said ‘subpenaed’ so I had not choice. I know it is our constitution right and I didn’t feel I have the right to judge anyone. I have no desire to get arrested and spend time locked up just because I was a little nervous that I might actually get picked to be a juror! There were 6 jurors chosen and I was one of them.
When I got to the court house there were about 30 people there that were summoned to show up for jury duty. After waiting about 15 minutes a bailiff came out and collect the papers we had to fill out. After about 20 more minutes we were called into the court room and given a number. Then the judge came out and took his seat. He explained what was going to happen, and then asked us a series of questions. Depending on your answers was one of the determining factors if you stay or were sent home.
A few of the questions were:
- Do you have any religious views that would interfere with you judging another person? No (one raised there hand)
- Do you have any racist views against any certain race? (still no raised hands)
- Does anyone have any small children or disabled person at home that need your care? (There was only one raised hand)
Those are just a few questions the judge asked. Then it was the attorneys from each side got to ask each juror questions.
Some of those questions were:
- Have you ever worked for an insurance company? (a few had)
- Have you ever worked for an auto repair shop? (no one raised their hands)
- Have you ever worked for a company that constructs the body of vehicles? (2 people answered yes)
- If you purchased a product and it broke on the first day, would you return it to the company for repair?
- If you returned said product to have it repaired by the company, and they sent it back to you claiming it had been repaired. Then you tried to use the product and found out it wasn’t repaired would you still have faith in that company to send it for repair a 2nd time. (About 15 people answered no to this question. Stating that the company was not dependable and to be trusted. I was one of the 15)
There were several other questions, but I am not sure I remember what they were. Then the lawyers and the judge got together and picked who would be the jurors. I was nervous! They picked 6 jurors and one of the six was me, as I said above. The judge dismissed the people that were not chosen. The remaining 6 were asked to be seated in the juror box, and the judge announced there would be a 2 hour recess. Oh, my goodness 2 hours! By this time we had already been in the court room for about 1 1/2 hours.
I want bore you with the details of lunch and the waiting in the hall, not for 1 hour after the 2 hour break, but for 2 more hours! After about 2 hours we were called back into the court room, and seated in the juror box. The trial began finally! The judge had us swear under oath to judge each party by the facts and not personal opinions. So both attorneys then stated there opening arguments, then each side continued to voice their cases for their clients. Then their closing arguments for their clients.
We were told we could speak about the trial once it was over. The trial involved the defendant, she ran through a red light at an intersection, and was hit by a car coming through the light to the left. Her (defendant, let’s call her Mary) car spun around and was hit by another car coming through the intersection. The plaintiffs car was damaged and the insurance company of the defendant paid for the repairs. In the state of Texas everyone has the right to choose a body shop to repair their vehicle that was in an
The plaintiff (let’s call him Jerry) had his car repaired and had to take it back because the front end was pulling to the left really bad. Jerry took the car back to the body repair shop and once again they repaired the car and said it was ready. Jerry and his wife were driving the car home and it was still pulling really bad to the right. His wife became really upset and wanted to sale the car. She wanted a safe vehicle for her daughter that is 6 years old. So instead of calling the insurance company Jerry sold the car for $12,000. The car was only 6 months old at the time of the accident and was in perfect condition. The market value for the car was $18,000.
So to make a long story longer Jerry wanted Mary’s insurance company to pay him $6,000 he lost by selling his car at a cheaper price to buy a new one. We had to decide if Mary’s insurance should pay him for the loss of selling his car. After listening to both sides all 6 of us jurors were taken to a room to decide the verdict.
It took us only about 20 minutes to come up with a verdict that we could all agree on. Two jurors thought Jerry shouldn’t get anything because he didn’t call the insurance company and let them know his car still wasn’t repaired. They felt he should have taken the car back to the body shop and letting them know the car still wasn’t repaired. The other 4 of us felt they should pay something but not the full amount. We decided Jerry should get $2,500 and no attorney fees. Jerry’s lawyer was not a very good one.
I have to add that the judge in the court room was not like any other judge I have seen before. He joked during the whole trial. He told the lawyers to get on with it and quit repeating themselves. He even went out into the hall way to talk to the people that were waiting to see if they would be jurors on the next trial. He joked with them too. It was the funniest thing, and thanks to him I didn’t fall asleep!
So what have I learned from that experience?
- The I am glad there are lawyers to defend us in a court of law, because without them we would probably get really screwed (some do still).
- Court trials are basically like I have seen on television.
- That I never again want to have to sit in a court room and judge someone else.
- That you can take anyone to court for anything these days.
- Don’t EVERrun through an intersection!
(Photos are taken from Foter.com)