Editor’s Note: This post first appeared August 1, 2011.
It was the last day of jury duty for this particular cattle call. No one wanted to be chosen – especially for the murder case requiring a voir dire that day. Maybe an additional month! Maybe sequestered in an Airline Highway motel! Oh, god, how bad could this semiannual nightmare get?
One hundred and fifty people were called for voir dire on the Big Murder Case. He was one. Almost the entire pool had their immediate futures on the line. The courtroom seated the whole group. A sub-set of fourteen was called in each round for questioning in the jury box. The usual. “Do you know the defendant?” “Have you been a victim of crime?” and – wait a minute! “Would you be reluctant to return a verdict of guilty knowing that several witness feel too intimidated to testify in court?” Why is everyone saying no to what seems to me a pretty important little question? A small window opened.