Recruiting Jurors

     Here’s an interesting question: Can you make people serve jury duty anywhere?
     I don’t know the answer but it’s suddenly become relevant in Southern California where a judge has ruled that, rather than move a high-profile trial to another county to avoid prejudice, he’s going to have the trial stay put and import jurors from another county.
     My initial reaction to this was: “Huh?”
     I guess it sort of makes sense. If you think the jury pool is contaminated, replacing the pool rather than the courthouse works just as well.
     But I see some difficulties.
     Like, how do you summon jurors outside your jurisdiction?
     Do they have to commute during a five-week trial? (The case, by the way, is the murder trial of a teenager in Ventura County who, allegedly, shot a fellow high school student who was gay.)
     If your jury is made up entirely of out-of-county volunteers, are you going to get a pool with bitter people who hate their families? Are those the kind of jurors you want?
     I don’t want to sound cynical here but, since that’s my job, I can’t help but note that the defense lawyers in this particular murder case had tried to get the judge removed. Apparently, he doesn’t want to budge.
     So how is he going to get his jurors?
     I’m sure there’s a plan, but it’s also my job here to be helpful and offer suggestions. To wit:

     Kidnapping. I know this sounds extreme, but it’s effective. Send out bailiffs in an unmarked van and have them grab people in mall parking lots or quiet suburban sidewalks.
     These people will be angry and they’ll want to deliver justice.
     Prizes. A simple letter should do the trick. Recipients will be informed they’ve won a free stay at a luxury hotel with no obligation beyond listening to a presentation.
     There’s no need to be too detailed about the lengths of the stay and presentation.
     An exchange program. Santa Barbara County jurors can be swapped for Ventura County jurors and stay with their families. Think of it as a cultural exchange.
     This could work better on a national scale. Imagine Californians and Oklahomans trading places. Experiencing a foreign country is a good thing.
     Telecommute. Do jurors really have to be there in person? You don’t get a better view of a witness from off to the side than you do head-on in close-up on-screen.
     Telecommuting even reduces jury prejudice. Counsel can’t wink at jurors if they’re not there.
     And here’s the coolest part: lawyers on each side will be able choose their avatars.
     Picture closing arguments from a Jedi master and a Klingon warrior. Jessica Rabbit can preside.
     But you’re wondering how we can tell if the jurors are listening.
     Well, first off, you can’t tell if they’re listening in the courtroom either. And if they’re going to fall asleep anyway, they might as well have a bed handy.
     The simple solution is pop quizzes. If you fail two quizzes about the trial, you’re off the jury. (This should be required for in-person juries too.)
     Finally, deliberations would take place in a chatroom with no one needing to rush to judgment so they can go home.
Unless someone else needs the computer….

     LIVING THE DREAM. There are some lifestyles most of us can only dream about.
     This is from an 8th Circuit U. S Court of Appeals ruling called Johnson v. Arden:       “Heineman is a cat breeder and also works as an accountant. In both capacities, she works out of her home in Colorado.”
     Where, presumably, she carefully counts her cats.
     Imagine the never-ending excitement of daily life.

%d bloggers like this: