Ogle Embed: Jury Duty (Part II)
3:47 AM EST on November 14, 2007
If you missed Part I, you are severely lacking in knowledge of the Juror Orientation process in federal district court. It's up to you to decide whether that is something you need in order to become a well rounded person. We left off with me being sent to the Juror Assembly Room....
(Note: Because much of this section had to be done from memory--I couldn't take notes inconspicuously during the Voir Dire process--I am ditching the time designations)
JUROR ASSEMBLY ROOM
- The assembly room is slightlymore comfortable than the court room I just left. That isn't saying much considering the orientation court room was stocked with uncushioned wooden pews. There is a sofa near the entrance, and while there was space for me to post up there, I knew that sitting there would have meant having someone else sitting right next to me...and that would have been a bit too cozy. I find a seat in an ordinary waiting room chair.
- There are about half a dozen plasma screen televisions attached to the ceiling and spread out throughout the room. I am willing to bet everything in my pocket, including my wife's hot pink cell phone, that those will all be tuned to Fox News within the hour.
- There is a piano in one corner of the room with puzzles stacked on top of it...does the Juror Assembly Room double as a Senior Citizen's Center?
- The first call for a juror pool comes
- I am not on the list
- Call number two comes...the deputy doing the calling is the smug deputy from Judge Val's courtroom
- A lady corrects the deputy who calls her name, and this time I understand. Her last name? Fuchs. It's pronounced Fyooks.
- No luck...more waiting for Clark
- Third time is the charm
- Along with myself, the random sampling also includes the guy with the Abe Lincoln beard, the guy who looks like a member of Z.Z. Top, the guy with all the facial piercings, and the lady who is dressed like a witch...if the guy who tried to convince the judge he was retarded had been in this group, every person I recognized during the orientation would be in this group. It's shaping up like one of those camp movies where the main character meets everyone he will come into contact with in the opening scene.
- On the elevator ride up to the courtroom, I get stuck standing between Abe and Z.Z. They smell like a hybrid of old milk and rotten hot dogs. Both are sweating profusely after our walk of approximately twenty yards.
- The deputy starts to take us into the courtroom and it turns out the judge isn't ready. We have to turn around and go wait in a vacant courtroom.
- One of the guy sitting next to me apparently knows a guy sitting in the pew behind us. While we wait, I get to hear them talk adamantly about Norman North High School football. In case you were wondering: No, neither one of them is Jim Traber.
- We're ready.
- The first thing that strikes me as I enter the room is that the defendants made an interesting choice in wardrobe. They are all wearing bright orange jumpsuits. It turns out they are inmates who, despite being offered more appropriate attire, decided: "Ah, I'd rather look guilty than be uncomfortable."
- There are 42 potential jurors, and the deputy calls 28 names to come forward for Voir Dire questioning.
- I am the ninth name called. The benefit is that I get to sit in the juror box where they have cushioned, reclining chairs.
- Judge DiGusti reads the indictment. In summary, the three defendants are accused of running a scam that involved them copyrighting their names and then invoicing the warden for using said names. (Afterwards, I found this article describing the case.) I don't get what the crime is, or what the accused were billing the warden for, but I do know one thing: I. MUST. GET. ON. THIS. JURY. The unintentional comedy--and hence, a goldmine of LostOgle material--will be off the charts.
- Abe, Z.Z., and Pincushion Face are also among those getting the Voir Dire treatment.
- The players in the trial introduce themselves
- The representative of the first defendant introduces himself and is interrupted by his client who wants it on the record that this lawyer does NOT represent him.
- Judge DiGusti warns him not to interrupt anymore
- The second defense lawyer introduces himself and a xerox copy of what just happened occurs again.
- Judge DiGusti recites the same warning.
- I have to suppress a grin at how much comedy is going to be contained in this room.
- Judge DiGusti goes through a bunch of questions designed to filter out biased candidates. This takes for-flipping-ever.
- Down goes Z.Z.! After answering to the judge that he does have relatives in law enforcement, Z.Z. admits that this could cause him to favor one side over the other. While I don't know the man's name, I feel as if I've lost a friend.
- It should be noted that about half the panel had some sort of familial connection to law enforcement and the rest lied about being able to put that aside. Z.Z. is a man of honor.
- Unfortunately, the witch is not called to replace him in the juror box.
- The last step is all 28 candidates reciting the answers to a questionnaire provided by the judge. In it, we have to give our name, where we live, how long we've lived there, how long we've lived in Oklahoma, our profession, our marital status, the profession of our spouse, name the number of children we have along with the profession of any grown children, whether we've been on a jury (which spawned off several other jury service related questions), our level of education, and whether we feel we can be fair.
- Another person is excused because his wife works for the judge.
- Mrs. Witch isn't his replacement, either.
- I'm surprised by how few people here have any schooling beyond high school.
- F'ing lawyers kick me off during peremptory challenges!
- Who else on the panel would have been able to understand both the complicated accounting scheme AND the unintentional comedy?
- Abe and Pincushionface also fail to make the cut...our movie plot is still in tact.
- It appears that everyone who had any college was booted
- At first, I blamed the defense attorneys thinking they wanted uneducated jurors who they could fool with big accounting terms...because it all boils down to a white collar crime involving invoicing and copyright law. The more I thought about it, though, I think the defense probably had to spend their challenges on the people who were married or raised by people like the warden who is claiming to be victimized. Regardless of who kicked me off, I'm pissed.
- The fact that I finally get to have lunch at 1:00 while the 12 who remain get further instructions takes away some of the sting.
- I get a Quizno's Chicken Carbonara. Mmmmmm!
BACK IN THE JUROR ASSEMBLY ROOM
- Wouldn't you know it, every television is tuned to Fox News.
- Another jury pool is called
- I am not
- Abe and Pincushion Face are
- Down to the depleted pool, I notice that there is another guy who looks like he could be in Z.Z. Top. I can't tell the two guys apart. Apparently, I think all guys with gray beards down to their knees look alike. I'm a racist that way.
- The bitchy deputy comes in and basically calls everyone still left in the room.
- Since this is the last jury pool of the day and there are no more juries scheduled to be seated this week, we are informed that should we not get placed on this jury, we just need to call the automated number after 5:00 on Friday to determine whether we return next week.
- Being that I don't like elevators in the first place, and that my nose was still shunning me from my earlier escapade, I took the stairs and waited by the court room for the rest of the group.
VOIR DIRE AGAIN
- Those of us who took the stairs are griped out for not waiting on the deputy to go the extra ten feet from the elevator lobby to the hallway outside the courtroom.
- This time, I'm near the end of the 28 jurors called forward for Voir Dire.
- That means I don't get one of the cushy, reclining chairs. Uncomfortable, pew seat it is.
- This case is an embezzlement case at the Lucky Star Casino. It is in federal court because it involves an Indian Tribe as the plaintiff.
- While I actually am interested in this trial because of my accounting background, I know that my accounting background basically ruins any shot of me being in this jury. As such, I am just watching the clock to see if I can get removed before rush hour.
- Someone else on the jury is trying much harder than me. To one question, he bitterly describes billing disputes his construction company has had building casinos for Indian Tribes. Later, the same guy cops to being personal friends with one of the guys on the witness list.
- After this, the defense attorney calls for a ten minute recess. I assume it is to discuss this guy.
- Rather than letting us just take the ten minute recess as a bathroom break, they make us go all the way to the Juror Assembly Room. The trip there and back takes approximately twenty minutes. My dream of beating traffic is slipping away.
- When we get back, we finish the Voir Dire process.
- Apparently, no one wants accountants on their jury because I'd say half the people left are in the profession in some form.
- Apparently, the defense attorney was not challenging the juror I mentioned above. In fact, the guy I mentioned above is on the jury. Me? Not so much.
- I beat traffic. Yeah!
I remembered to call the automated number on Sunday and the recorded message says I'm off the hook. And thus, my first foray into investigative journalism is also complete.