The suburban juror

With apologies to 30 Rock.

I’ve received several summons for jury duty (or jury service as they really like to call it), but never actually went in before after explaining that I had classes only I could teach.  I always volunteered to come at another date after the semester, but all I ever got in response was “excused.”  Well, with a July 15 summons, I finally had no excuse.

I’ve always told people that if I ever got questioned to serve on a jury (voir dire), I might survive if I was just a random political science professor.  But if it got into the fact that I teach Criminal Justice Policy, I would very likely be out.  Well, I was not queried as to what classes I teach, but we were all asked about our personal interactions with law enforcement.  “Well, I’ve had the chief of police of [the law enforcement organization engaged this case] as a guest speaker in my class on several occasions” pretty much opened that Pandora’s Box.  I briefly thought I might survive as my admitted overall skepticism of law enforcement [DA: “do you teach with a slant against law enforcement in your class?”  Me: “No.  I teach about the many problems and failures of our criminal justice system– including law enforcement– and how best to address them.”] was mitigated by my admitted respect for the law enforcement organization in question.  Apparently not.  So, I was struck.  Not bad, getting my jury service done in four hours.  Still, would have been pretty cool to be on a jury for a criminal trial.

So, what else did I take away from this process?  Ummm, the jury pool is not exactly a “jury of your peers” for many Wake county defendants.  I walked into the jury assembly room and thought “oh my, this room is white.”  And, jury the voir dire when everybody gave their residence and occupation, I thought, “oh my, this is not just white, but a bunch of white professionals.”  Software engineers, biostatisticans, college professors, real estate brokers, etc.  Anyway, not quite sure why the jury pool turns out this way– or how much it might have just randomly been disproportionate today– but, wow, not exactly a jury of one’s peers for many Wake County defendants.

Image result for rural juror

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to The suburban juror

  1. Lawrence Wittenberg says:

    Maybe the pool was just like you . Other professionals who couldn’t serve when first requested but had time during the summer, specifically July 15. It would otherwise be disappointing if this was a regular jury pool “of your peers “.

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