Monday, July 23, 2012

Tuesday(7/17): Jury Selection

My father and I arrived in San Francisco around noon andmade it to the courthouse around 2 pm or so. We stepped into the courtroom at arather interesting time. The attorneys were in the midst of voir dire-ing thejury (assessing whether or not these people were suitable to be jurors; thereare many reasons why one would not be asked to be a juror for a trial). Ourentrance was rather abrupt, but we took our seats and watched the processcontinue for a few more hours. There were some strange people summoned and askedto leave. One person said they had had bad experiences with police and would bebiased against them. Another person had witnessed a gruesome traffic accident.One generally normal looking man, when asked about his profession, prefaced hisanswer with “well its kinda a long story…” He continued, “I serve as a privatehealer for one individual… a shaman of sorts.” Good-bye.

After a long, seemingly repetitive process, we had our 12jurors plus 2 alternates. There was little to judge from looking at thesepeople, and some had already been through the voir dire process before we gotthere. Unlike the attorneys, we did not have a large bi-fold manila folder with14 sticky notes about each person, so again, it was really tough to read thesepeople and determine if any of them would prove difficult.
Two things stood out to me during this process. One was thatthis was fascinatingly bizarre. It is almost like a triple-layer conveyor belt,with a shape on each layer that the jurors must fit through in order to pass tothe next layer. By the time you get to the final layer you have weeded out all(or at least some) of the bias and shamanism. The second thing that stood outto me, almost immediately due to the timing of certain questions, was howconfused the potential jurors were regarding the licensing issue. They wereasked, unaware of the details of the trial, how they felt about somebodydriving without a license and whether they would be able to “unmarry” this with“the rules of the road.” The jurors, as did I, seemed extremely confused. “Isn’tthat the rule of the road?” inquiredone person. The group laughed, but the judge insisted, “But setting that aside,could you just think about what the rules of the road are and whether thosehave been broken?” A philosophical conversation regarding the privilege-ness ofdriving ensued, but the tone had been set. Galo, who had refused to get alicense for the entirety of his stay in the United States, would not have toworry about that fact coming up during his trial.

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