Tuesday, March 3, 2009

12 Not-So-Angry Men

Or rather, 77 Not-At-All-Angry men and women. I'm talking about the jury pool for Dallas District Court. I'm assuming no one wants to serve on a jury, although a few people did raise their hands indicating yes when that question was asked.
I was at the Dallas County Criminal Court building at 8:30 a.m. sharp to fulfill my obligation of jury duty. I was thrilled when the first jury pool was selected and I was juror #72 of 77. The grin on my face was impossible to control. I floated up to the sixth floor hallway outside the courtroom. I was stunned when they began calling jurors inside to take a seat in reverse numerical order. Instead of being safely in the back of the courtroom, I was directed to the jury box itself and one of the twelve hot seats. D*mn.

We then learned it was a capital murder trial we were being selected for. Double d*mn. We were told the automatic sentence for capital murder in Texas was life in prison without parole (the state wasn't seeking the death penalty).

With my hopes of avoiding jury service disappearing, I began to notice something promising. The prosecuting attorney wasn't paying much attention to the people in the jury box. She had her back to us and was facing the rest of the jury panel where normally the public sits during a trial. Later, the defense attorney confirmed that despite the seating order, the jury would, indeed, be picked starting from juror #1. Smiles in the jury box. Then he let slip that this was day two of the trial. Day one ended when the court was unable to find twelve qualified jurors. He warned the jurors sitting in the jury box that, yes, indeed, they probably would get that deep into the pool to find twelve qualified jurors. In the end, the court failed. All seventy seven of the jury pool were dismissed. We were all free to leave. The court would have to try again tomorrow.

No comments: