The Joy of the Juror

Everyone has received that envelope in the mail and had the undoubted reaction, “how can I get out of this.” It’s simply the most common reaction from anyone who has never actually served on a jury before. Sadly, it’s become a welcome challenge for people to come up with new and believable reasons as to why they shouldn’t have to perform their civic duty.

Recently, a friend of mine was called for jury duty. Ironically, I found out that she was going to serve by her posts on Facebook. She was absolutely delighted and her excitement was incredibly refreshing. She had a true appreciation for her role in the justice system and realized that many people would be relying upon her and 11 of her peers to administer justice in the San Diego courts. It didn’t even matter to her whether she would serve on a criminal or civil jury panel. She only wanted to know how get picked for an actual trial and how to be the best juror she could be.

Of course, knowing that I am an attorney, she asked for my opinion. I gave her the following pointers:

  • Just because you are right for one jury does not mean you are right for every jury. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get picked;
  • Be impartial – regardless of your biases, you must be able to view each case as new;
  • Do not rely on past experiences to lead you to an outcome. Rely on the evidence;
  • Take good notes. Your trial could be long and you might not remember early on; and
  • Follow the rules!

There is nothing worse than spending a week or two of your time on a jury only to get unexpectedly excused. If you’ve ever served on a San Diego jury, you probably know that there are very strict rules especially as it relates to media. Jurors are not permitted to discuss or research the cases presented to them. For the most part, everyone understands that for the trial to be fair, jurors must only rely on the evidence admitted in the courtroom. The reason being, that this is the most reliable and fair evidence. What many people don’t know is that there are also important restrictions on what jurors can share about jury duty on social media.

To avoid being excused from your trial, consider these caveats:

  • Stay engaged with the attorneys during jury selection, not with your social media fans;
  • Don’t post to your social media profiles about or during the trial; and
  • Don’t post trial updates while you are deliberating.

You’ll have plenty of time to update your status while you’re waiting to be impaneled and after you’ve been released. Enjoy your next trial and thank you for your service!