Citizens Jury Wheel. 1931. Cuyahoga County.
Yesterday, i got laid off from jury duty. I work in the trades, and have been laid off many times. At first, it was often insulting...hell, it still is; but i am now more blasé. When it was time to seat the jury, i was glad to be dismissed. The county took 25 people at random, and we were questioned in the 'voir dire', the jury interview. To seat twelve and two alternates, the twenty-third member was the last selection. The process was intrusive. The twenty-five were (presumably) strangers to each other. Everyone opened up in candor to events that were not the business of anyone.
On the elevator going down, i made a comment to the effect of no one wanted to sit for that trial. One person differed. When we first sat down in the courtroom, the indictment was read, i was quite shocked. One comes and does not know what the case would be, but the rape and abduction of a child is horrible and repulsive, and i was not prepared for such proceedings. And this story won't make the press. Wednesday morning, before eight, a gaggle of media people were on the first floor on my way to the elevators. I asked, who are you here for. One man answered, "Castro".
First the judge (who bore a resemblance to Alec Baldwin) asked questions formed from the questionnaires the potential jurors answered, then the prosecutor, and then the defense attorney. It was alarming, that, several people had personal stories of great misfortune, or that of their close relatives: one man was shot during the theft of his automobile; another was robbed at gunpoint twice by different pre-teen children in New Orleans; a woman and her daughter were robbed, also under gunpoint, in Chicago; a woman's son was murdered at Marine boot camp (Camp Lejeune); a man witnessed a college roommate killed in Kent...
It was also surprising, that, the three interrogators were acquaintanced with family members of the potential jurors. Two people were teachers/counselors that were questioned concerning students with sexual abuse. Three people had police relatives. One was a lawyer in a child related services. The thought crossed my mind, more potential jurors than twenty-five might be called. Several of those people were rejected from the impaneling. Eleven of us came Wednesday morning for jury duty, and Thursday afternoon it was over, and it was also over for other Wednesday jurors who were uninvolved in a case.
Isamu Noguchi sculpture. 1976. [click for another view]