Busy, tired, stressed out citizens receive notices for jury duty every day. So what do you do when you are “called up?”
First, when you are called up, go to the court and get into the jury room. Second, when you go to the courtroom for the selection process, don’t lie. Don’t tell the attorneys and judge that you are impartial, disinterested or uninterested in the case if you really do have an opinion that is fully formed. It is not right, ethical or moral and the judge will not like you for doing it. No one in the legal community wants to have a decision overturned because a juror says one thing at the selection process and another thing after the trial is over. It can mean an instant appeal and more time spent determining the outcome of a case.
Impartial, disinterested or uninterested are words the selection process uses. So what do these words mean in the legal context?
- Impartial: Not prejudiced towards or against any particular side or party; fair; unbiased
- Disinterested: Free from bias or partiality; objective
- Uninterested: Not interested, not curious, not concerned, uncaring.
If you are impartial and can decide on the facts (just the facts, ma’am) of the case, both sides and the judge want and need you on that jury.
If you are disinterested you might be a swayed either way depending on who might be the most powerful juror in the jury room. And, being swayed, you might decide the case on factors that have nothing to do with the facts in the case.
If you are uninterested, you may or may not be willing to use the essential skills all jurors must have.
Here is a list of those essential skills.
- Active listening,
- good memory, and
- the ability to make decisions for yourself to determine the fate of the person who is charged.
Being on a jury pool is no vacation. It is work…pure and simple. Even though it can be boring it’s important to you, me and our society. Our entire system is based on the idea that justice comes best from a jury. Don’t fail us.