Friday, January 22nd, 2010, 3:33pm ET


I did get dismissed from jury duty last week after they interviewed me for 30 seconds, but after I’d sat there doing absolutely nothing for 12 hours over 2 days. I learned a lot of interesting stuff about the process from watching and listening to everything go down, and from all the folks who emailed or twittered their jury duty stories to me – thanks…

It turns out there’s tons of different reasons the judge, the lawyers or the defendant will dismiss you for, so it’s a real piece o’ cake to get out of a trial and you don’t even have to lie. All you gotta do is say something remotely interesting about yourself – “I vacationed in Venezuela last year” – and they’ll go wait, Venezuela’s in South America… there’s llamas in South America… llama rhymes with Obama… who wants to kill old people with his health care plan… just like the defendant does with his machete, and they’ll kick you out for being a likely killer-sympathizer.

Or more simply, and seriously, if you just say you watch CSI you’ll have a good chance of being dismissed because you probably believe there needs to be gunshot residue, blood spatter and blue-glowing sperm all on the defendant’s face in order to prove him guilty.

A friend of mine told me his story of how the defense attorney dismissed him on the spot just because he knew what the definition of the charge against his client was. A reader said she was dismissed because she showed she had a good memory by recalling details of the last trial she was on years ago, theorizing that some lawyers don’t want you to remember anything but their histrionic opening and closing arguments.

In my case, all I really said was I’m a comic artist, and I recently did a bit of editorial cartooning, and they were like shit, we can’t have a dude with an opinion on our jury so that was it. Finally! It was about time my comics were good for something. Also, I made some “white people talk like this, while black people talk like this” jokes.



  1. stormagnet

    Dude, I get dismissed *every time* because I’m related to a judge. I don’t know why they even bother to keep summoning me O_o

  2. Emily

    Yep — comic artists are definitely on the short list of biased jurors.

  3. Neil (AoD)

    Kinda pointless even having juries if they dont want a panel of people from a broad spektrum of society- seems likie they just want braindead numpties you cant think for themselves, and just decide which story to believe based on the evidence as itspresented/ skewed & twisted/ misinterpreted to suit the defences and/or procescutions needs.

  4. Munan

    Hmm, makes me not so unhappy with the fact that we don’t have jury-jurisdiction in the Netherlands.

  5. Dark_T_Zeratul

    I had a coworker who got dismissed because he was an engineering student. It was a murder trial and the defense was going for the emotional angle, and didn’t want someone who would be thinking super logically.

  6. DCS

    Ah, jury duty. I was exempt for many years because I was active duty military, but when I left the Army and settled down, I got summoned for jury duty three different times (each summons was for a period of three months) over the space of about five years.

    I was empanelled on an attempted murder trial on my first summons. the next two times I was summoned, when we went to voir-dire, I could honestly respond that I had been empanelled before. Then, in chambers during the subsequent interview, I could recall entirely too much detail about the trial for which I was on the jury.

    The defending lawyer immediately dismissed me — they don’t want anyone with any memory capacity at all! I absolutely agree with Dark_T above — the lawyers don’t want anyone who can actually remember any of the details, they only want people who will manage to stay awake for the final summations, and then decide on an emotional basis.

    Frustrating to realize that our justice system, despite all it’s claims, is not really about finding the TRUTH.

  7. OneMonthInTheFuture

    Freedom isn’t free
    Because justice isn’t just
    Chains you cannot see
    Used too often to rust
    Forcing thee
    To do what they say you must

  8. hdcr_LoS

    I just usually tell them I don’t speak English. But I stopped using that excuse because I’m sure the INS got the gov’t to wiretap my phone. Sorry, I no speaka Een-glesh.

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