Jury Duty Wrap Part One – What I Saw

I answered the call for public service this week and served five days of jury duty in St. Louis County.  It was a civil case.  A police officer at Lambert Airport sued the City of St. Louis for age discrimination and retaliation.  The jury found in favor of the city, saying there was no age discrimination or retaliation.  Although I sat through the entire trial, as an alternate juror, I didn’t get to take part in the deliberations.  That sucked, but I did stick around to hear what my new friends decided.

LA Law - The Source of My Law Knowledge

Each jury member had to wear a badge identifying us as a juror in and around the courtroom, including out to lunch.  This was a reminder to both sides not to talk to us.  We reported each morning to our jury room and, except for lunch, moved between the courtroom and the jury room all day.  Our bailiff Bob never left our side except for lunch.  On the few times Bob had to run and errand, he locked the door from the outside.  There was as much isolation as possible.

The court proceedings were much as I imagined, given my deep experience watching L.A. Law and Law and Order.  We got opening and closing statements, a parade of witnesses, and depositions read out loud.

We got a ton of objections:  asked and answered, badgering the witness, no foundation, compound question, vague question.  One of the plaintiff’s attorney was particularly poor at asking questions, so the defense was left to object:  “I have no idea what he’s asking.”

We got two tons of objectives.  The plaintiffs used numbers and got as high as 55.  The defense used letters and got as high as AAA (that’s 57).  Each time a new one came up — Your honor, we’d like to enter this document as Exhibit 1.  Any objections?  No objections.  Document entered as Exhibit 1.  Over and over and over and over.

The only thing that didn’t make sense to me was that the plaintiffs and defense all sat at one table.  It’s hard to see how they can have meaningful conversations.  Oh – speaking of conversations — lots and lots and lots of sidebar conversations.  We pulled out book when they went sidebar because they took so long.

Tomorrow – the lighter side of jury duty.

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