Monday, February 15, 2010

Jury Mutiny

It looks like the tough economic times is affecting jury selection, especially in Los Angeles. Some people don't want to lose work because of jury duty.

Spurned in his effort to get out of jury duty, salesman Tony Prados turned his attention to the case that could cost him three weeks' pay: A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was suing his former sergeant, alleging severe emotional distress inflicted by lewd and false innuendo that he was gay.

Prados, an ex-Marine, leaned forward in the jury box and asked in a let-me-get-this-straight tone of voice: "He's brave enough to go out and get shot at by anyone but he couldn't handle this?" he said of the locker-room taunting.

Fellow jury candidate Robert Avanesian, who had also unsuccessfully sought dismissal on financial hardship grounds, chimed in: "I think severe emotional distress is what is happening in Haiti. I don't think you could have such severe emotional distress from that," he said of the allegations in the deputy's case.

The spontaneous outbursts of the reluctant jurors just as Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James R. Dunn was about to swear them in emboldened others in the jury pool to express disdain for the case and concerns about their ability to be fair, and to ratchet up the pathos in their claims of facing economic ruin if forced to sit for the three-week trial.

I wonder how something like this would be handled in federal court. If you don't want to read the story, the attorneys decided to go with a bench trial and let the judge decide.


Sherry said...

I served on a jury for a week-long personal injury case some years back. It was a disturbing experience for me. My conclusion: only trust your fate to a jury if you're guilty and that's your only hope of getting off.

Hank Greer said...

Sadly, I reached a similar conclusion after serving on a jury about eight years ago.

Diogenes said...

As long as the overpaid judges ($226,000+ per year)in Los Angeles don't recognize the economic hardships imposed on jurors and treat them like cattle, the resistance to serving is only going to increase.

Sherry said...

However unsympathetic OR sympathetic judges might look to jury pay rates is pretty moot: judges don't set the amounts.