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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
Letter of the Day

Seating a jury of our peers

Published:

Approximately every two years I get called for jury duty, and unlike some other folks, I am retired and have no problem with being a potential juror. It is my opinion that the process of choosing jurors is flawed. I assume that the correct process is taught in law school and therefore how this plays out in U.S. courtrooms around the country daily is the proper and legal way to proceed.

I have minimal legal knowledge and don't pretend to understand the convoluted way jurors are chosen. Nevertheless, if a defendant is to be judged by a jury of his peers, it seems to me that when being interviewed by the attorneys on both sides, who also are privy to what you answered on the question sheet, the only categories that should be considered would be: Is a potential juror familiar with the defendant, judge or attorneys? If so, they should be dismissed. Another question should be for those potential jurors who need or wish to be excused for legitimate reasons, such as being a caretaker for a child under 6 years of age. A possible third inquiry would be whether or not the potential juror is familiar with the case, and if so, could remain impartial.

We all enter a courthouse with a lifetime of experiences, including happiness, heartbreak, health issues involving ourselves or loved ones, employment issues, financial concerns, prejudices and so on. For a truly fair and impartial jury to be chosen, all other questions or criteria are unnecessary and potentially not representative of the true interpretation of our Founding Fathers and Constitution.

It is ultimately up to attorneys on both sides to persuade jurors, per the letter of the law, who are not attorneys or judges, to vote one way or the other on behalf of the defendant. I would be interested to know how other people feel about this idea, regardless of what might be taught in law school.

Mary Shofi Volpe

Tampa

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