Tag Archives: jury duty

Jury Selection: A Courts Reporter Reflects

I sought the help from fellow journalists in researching a story about social media and its affect on the courts.

I was lucky enough to hear back from John Painter, Jr., a retired Oregonian courts reporter (and, as no one is immune from the process, a seven-time potential juror), who offered me these thoughts on jury selection, the process some lawyers call “pick ’em and stick ’em.”

“In my experience as a juror, during voire dire I was bumped from every case but one (both sides had run out of challenges) solely because as a court reporter I knew too much about trials and the trial tactics of both sides.

In my experience as both juror and journalist, I came to several conclusions:

(1) Jurors being questioned routinely lie about their positions on issues they think could get them bumped;

(2) lawyers on both sides harbor deep-seated prejudices about who would make a good and bad juror and the common rationales for bumping certain types of jurors are mostly without real-world foundation, but “blogging” news web sites is a red flag;

(3) lawyers involved in criminal litigation invariably will disqualify any potential jurors with any link to any media (and in this day and age that includes anything dealing with the web);

(4) no expert worth his/her salt can tell you anything substantive about who would be a good or bad juror; humans are just too complicated.”

Followup: Kitsap Prosecutor Dismissed from Jury Duty

Though he made it before a judge during the process, Kitsap County Prosecutor Russell Hauge won’t be sitting on a jury anytime soon.

I reported earlier this week that he’d been called to serve, just like everyone else. He made it to the voir dire process in a criminal case before Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Leila Mills, but that was where it ended.

He was asked this question: Could he presume the defendant innocent since the charging documents were filed in his name. (All official documents out of of Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, including charging documents, include his name).

“I said no,” Hauge said, and he was dismissed.

Even the Kitsap County Prosecutor Gets Called for Jury Duty

Ahh, jury duty. There’s nothing quite like getting that summons in the mail, an invitation to fulfill our civic duty to fairly to impartially weigh the evidence in cases involving our peers in society.

And no one is immune to the task. Not even elected prosecutors.

Kitsap County Prosecutor Russell Hauge received his summons recently, and is on call this week for his chance to get on a panel.

“I’ll call in Sunday night just like everyone else,” Hauge said.

Granted, the odds are slim to none that any judge, especially in a criminal case, would allow the sitting prosecutor on a jury. The conflicts seem steep (for instance, he’d be watching a deputy prosecutor — who answers to him —  try a case).

But even presidents get called for jury duty. George W. Bush was in 2005 and Barack Obama just this year. They too have an armada of reasons why serving on a jury just probably isn’t going to happen.

How far Hauge gets in the process remains to be seen.

“It’s up to the judge,” he said.