How I got out of jury duty without really trying

I was called to jury duty recently and dutifully showed up early Monday morning for a day of tedious and repetitive questions during voir dire, which a friend of mine swears is French for jury tampering.

It was a lawsuit seeking damages over a car accident. The plaintiff’s attorney asked such inane questions as: What are you passionate about? There were responses about golf and sports betting and teaching and what not. I told him: The First Amendment and the public’s right to know, which set him back a bit. When he augered in, I explained that I’d been in journalism for decades and still freelanced a bit.

I unfortunately managed to survive the first day and returned for the second and cooled my heels with the other potential jurors for more than an hour as the wheels of justice ground to a halt behind closed doors.

Then the attorney got around to asking more pertinent questions about the jurors’ responsibility. He explained that in criminal cases the jury verdict must be beyond a reasonable doubt, but a jury in a civil case should award damages based on a preponderance of evidence, which he explained meant that damages should be awarded if 50.1 percent of the evidence favored such a verdict.

When he asked if anyone had a problem with that, I dutifully raised my hand. When asked, I said I would never publish a story if I knew there was a 50 percent chance it was wrong. I did not think that was what preponderance meant in the first place. A decision to wrest money away from one person to give to another on the basis of only 50.1 percent of evidence favoring it seemed tantamount to flipping a coin. I explained my decision-making process did not work that way and I could not imagine how 50.1 percent of a winning argument could be persuasive. The difference in the scales of justice is imperceptible.

I came close to saying that if that was what the law really said the law is a ass, but I thought better of it, suspecting the Dickens quote might not sit too well and just might get my ass in trouble.

A few minutes later I was kindly invited to hie my principled ass home.





6 comments on “How I got out of jury duty without really trying

  1. Bruce Feher says:

    I recently received a Jury summons. I do not approve of the part where “they” claim I won’t be paid for part of the time!
    I wrote to the jury commissioner stating I am willing to serve but I am concerned about my Constitutional Right, specifically the 13th Amendment, section one, being violated! I have yet to get a response.

  2. Steve says:

    Got called up once. Kodak paid me for the time spent on Jury Duty, so I had no out.
    Got lucky though. Coroners inquest and they never asked me a thing, just told us they didn’t need us anymore and it fulfilled my obligation. Out the door I went after only about 4 hours.
    And took the rest of the day off to boot.
    Haven’t been called back since.

  3. Bruce Feher says:


  4. Bruce Feher says:

    I’m self employed, if I don’t do a job, I don’t get paid! I don’t understand why they don’t first use those that are getting unemployment funds?

  5. Sludge Diva says:

    Too bad there are so many others — who claim to be journalists — publishing stories that don’t even meet the 50.1% criterion.

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