February 5th, 2009


mental_floss Blog » How To Get Out of Jury Duty

The Smart Way: Know a Bit of Legal Trivia
Next time you’re in the jury selection process and really want out, just inform the court that you know all about jury nullification…and you aren’t afraid to use it. A little-known facet of common law dating back to Elizabethan England, jury nullification happens when a jury hands down a “not guilty” verdict—but not because they think the defendant is innocent. Instead, they’re making a statement about the validity of the law itself. The first jury nullification happened in 1670, when William Penn (of Pennsylvania fame) and William Mead (of no fame) were charged with unlawful assembly—a crime basically created to prevent unsanctioned religious groups from getting together to worship. Clearly, both men were guilty, but the jury refused to convict them on the grounds that the law was unjust. The practice continued in America. Throughout the mid-1800s, northern juries would frequently nullify prosecutions against people who violated the Fugitive Slave Laws. And, during Prohibition, juries around the country nullified numerous alcohol control violations. Prior to the 20th century, nullification was accepted as common practice, but around the late 1800s, judges started taking a harsher view of it. In 1895, the Supreme Court
even handed down a ruling saying that judges don’t have to inform juries of their right to nullify. Today, most judges take advantage of this. Many will even tell you that you legally can’t nullify a law. There’s some debate over whether that’s true or not. (At any rate, jurors can’t be punished for the verdict they return and not-guilty defendants can’t be retried—so we figure, what the heck.) Either way, most judges don’t want to deal with a juror who might pull the nullification card, so if you bring it up, you’ll likely be eliminated from the jury pool.
mental_floss Blog » How To Get Out of Jury Duty

Best Ways to Avoid Jury Duty « Baby Hatchetface Can’t Lose!

Best Ways to Avoid Jury Duty

1. Traumatized Victim. If you are on a trial involving a violent crime, you will be asked to answer Force of Violence questions (i.e. have you, your friends, your family ever been a victim of a violent crime.) Use this to your advantage. The judge will make you feel like a schmuck and try to strong arm you into saying that you can be fair. Just a heads up, there’s no shame in using your past victimization to your advantage. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking about your past experience in front of the whole courtroom, you can ask to speak to the judge in chambers.

2. LAPD Hater. If a key witness in the trial is a member of the LAPD you will be asked if you can keep an open mind about their character. Who hasn’t had a bad experience with the LAPD? Can you use that experience to make sweeping generalizations about the entire police force? This is also an angle to investigate.

3. Phony Racist. I don’t recommend this but I did see someone effectively utilize this technique. The major downfall besides the obvious is that what you say in court becomes PUBLIC RECORD. If you are or ever plan to be in the public eye, you are going to be screwed if you use this technique. I saw a wannabe actress get herself kicked out of the box for claiming to be a racist and all I can say is that if she ever “makes it”, I am so selling this bit of information to Star.

4. Mal-adjusted Outcast. Wear a Star Wars T-shirt. Be in severe need of a haircut. Play a Game Boy and refuse to socialize with the other jurors. Stumble into court late. When asked in the juror questioning where you are employed say, “I’ve never had a job.”

5. Non-Citizen. By far the most effective technique I’ve seen. During pre-questioning when you answer as to where you live, say, “I live in Mexico.”

6. English Illiterate. Explain to the judge that you don’t know enough English to be able to properly follow the trial. Short and sweet.

7. Bladder Control Problem. Particularly effective if you’re old. Wander out of the jury box mid-questioning without telling the bailiff that you’re hitting the restroom. They will catch you before you reach the exit and you will be eventually “auf-d” upon agreement by both attorneys.

8. Too Chatty. Answer all questions in a normal manner. Throw in at the end that you have a problem keeping your mouth shut out of the courtroom and will probably blab about the trial to your family and friends. The judge will warn you that you will be in contempt and go to jail but the attorneys don’t want a mistrial so they will both agree that you don’t belong in the box. See ya!

9. Executive. In some cases if you are dressed like a high-powered white businessman, drive a Mercedes and don’t follow the court designated parking lot rules, you will get removed from the jury box.

10. Butcher. I haven’t seen this one in action but apparently if you are a butcher and are in the jury pool for a violent crimes case, the attorneys will kick you out of the box because blood and gore are desensitized parts of your everyday life.
Best Ways to Avoid Jury Duty « Baby Hatchetface Can’t Lose!