Civic Duty

November 19, 2009

Washington County Circuit Court

I was called for jury duty on Wednesday. I work across the street from Multnomah County Circuit Court (zoom out) in downtown Portland and, in fact, will be there at 8am tomorrow morning for a hearing in a big case I have been working on for a year. But since I live a few hundred yards across the Washington County line, I had to go to Hillsboro (zoom out), which is a complete unknown to me. I felt like a kid on the first day of school in a new town.

After sitting around for a few hours with a couple hundred others waiting to be called, I was part of the jury pool for a misdemeanor DUI case that would have bored me to tears. I was glad I wasn’t picked to serve because I have been working 12 hour days this week to prepare for big events in two important cases. I think I was passed over during voir dire because I had to tell them my profession and employer on the juror information sheet. I think most lawyers don’t want legal people on their juries because they think the other jurors will believe we know what we are talking about when it comes time to decide the case.

When the defense attorney asked if anyone thought negatively of a person just because they had a drink of alcohol, one woman raised her hand and said she might have trouble with that because her father was an alcoholic. A couple of minutes later she suddenly fled the room saying. “I’m sorry I can’t do this!” She was in the hall before the judge, who had been kind of absentmindedly tapping away on his computer, looked up in surprise, then blurted out, “You’re excused!” Wild.

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