Welcome, Jury Duty, and Technology

Hello, this is my first entry for my personal technology blog. I hope to provide some useful information and even some rants & ramblings here on my blog. I would love to hear your feedback, so please post comments about my blog entries.

I am actually writing this blog entry from the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida as I perform my civic duty (Jury Duty). So I thought I would start off my blog by discussing some of my thoughts, findings, and observations about Jury Duty and even about how technology plays a role in Jury Duty today.  Well, here it goes…

First, I strongly urge everyone to perform their civic duty and appear when you are summoned for Jury Duty. This is a very important part of the system of checks and balances in our country. I am sure that most of you are aware of the role of the Juror, in its most basic form. That being to provide a trial by peers for an individual (or entity) after they have been accused of a crime. You may also be aware that you could be sitting on a civil trial, which means the defendant is not being accused of a crime. Even though the defendant is not being accused of a crime, this is still a very important role for a Juror.

The aspect of serving as a Juror that most people are not aware of can be summed up in two words, “Jury Nullification”. The definition of Jury Nullification at Wikipedia is as follows:

  • Jury nullification is any rendering of a verdict by a trial jury, acquitting a criminal defendant despite the defendant’s violation of the letter of the law. This verdict need not disagree with the instructions by the judge concerning what the law is, but may disagree with an instruction, if given by the judge, that the jury is required to apply the law to the defendant if certain facts are found.
  • Although a jury’s refusal relates only to the particular case before it, if a pattern of such verdicts develops in response to repeated attempts to prosecute a statutory offense, it can have the practical effect of disabling the enforcement of the statute. “Jury nullification” is thus a means for the people to express opposition to an unpopular legislative enactment.

What this means to us in the United States of America is that we, as Jurors, can effectively nullify a law that we find oppressive, unjust, or simply not valid. This is, arguable, the most important aspect of serving as a Juror. This is the last check in our system that ensures our government does not oppress or discriminate against anyone in our country and that our lawmakers are performing the duties that we elected them to perform.

Hopefully you are now at least slightly more informed and willing to appear when you are summoned for Jury Duty. So with that out of the way, I would like to discus how technology plays an important role in Jury Duty today.

My first observation regarding technology and Jury Duty was the court’s website. There was plenty of useful information including videos, instructions, and even the ability to fill out your Juror questionnaire on-line. You can even check on-line if you are required to appear for Jury Duty (as well as by phoning in). I actually found these features quite useful in the days/weeks leading up to the date that I was summoned for.

After arriving at the courthouse, passing through the security screening, and making my way into the Jury waiting room I was pleasantly surprised. The room had, somewhat, comfortable chairs, tables, power outlets for electronic devices, a TV room for watching TV, an “Internet Cafe” with PC’s for Juror use, and wireless Internet access. The wireless network was unsecured (so be careful if you wish to do any on-line banking or something similar) and was gated by a Cisco device that forced you to accept a usage policy before connecting. This was a little inconvenient since I dropped my wireless connection a few times and had to go through this every time I did. Still, being able to post this blog entry while waiting to be called was well worth it. Especially since the wireless Internet access was free!  🙂

What I did not enjoy was the fact that the coffee was not free. There was a little room with vending machines and vendor with a table set up selling coffee, bagels, etc. to the Jurors. What made this even more frustrating was that they only accepted cash and, of course, I did not have any. So I proceeded to the ATM, which is located in the main lobby of the courthouse, only to find that it is out of order. I ask someone were I can find another ATM and they pleasantly inform me that it is located across the street at the Bank of America. Now I have to leave the courthouse, go across the street to the ATM, get my cash, come back across the street to the courthouse, go through the security screening again, and then, finally, get my coffee and bagel. As Igor said in Young Frankenstein, “It could be worse… It could be raining”.  😀

Well, I think that’s it for today.  I need to go get questioned as a prospective Juror.

9 thoughts on “Welcome, Jury Duty, and Technology”

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  3. Informative article. I actually found it very stressful. I was worried about all the responsibility, but in the end I wasn't chosen. Thanks for sharing.

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