A Denver Family's Adventure Through The Ups And Downs of Life

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ever Been on a Jury???

Unfortunately, neither have I.

Monday and Tuesday, I completed the process of being chosen for my first jury. The jury selection process was a long, but very interesting experience.

Let's start from the beginning.
Doo, doo, doo, doo. Doo, doo, doo, doo.
(Does this remind you of last scene of Wayne's World?)


When Sam was 5 months old, I received a jury notice and, since I was still nursing/pumping, I got a note from my son's pediatrician for a medical excuse. I was given a temporary postponement until Sam was 12 months old (since I definitely wanted to nurse/pump until then, at least).

The day after Sam turned one, I received the jury notice. They really weren't kidding when they said that my postponement from jury dute was temporary.

On Sunday, I called to find out the time at which I needed to report to the courthouse. The message told me to arrive at 7:45am. I always do my best to arrive on time or early, so I took Sam to daycare and arrived at the courthouse 5 minutes before my scheduled time.

I should have known that, being the government, things wouldn't take place when they were supposed to. Everyone was seated in the jury room (about 100 of us) at the alloted time and nothing was done until 8:50 pm. I'm really glad that I brought a book.

We were given a questionnaire (about prejudice and ability to serve) and watched a video about the jury process and why it is important in our society. It looked like it was made in the 90s (because of the fashion and hair styles).

Then, we were informed that we would be given a number to be placed on the top right corner of our completed questionnaire. I was given #7. We then turned in our questionnaire, given a "juror" badge and were let out until 12:30 for lunch.

That left me 2+ hours before we had to return. I took that opportunity to go to the grocery store and cook food for Sam's lunches and dinners for the week.

What I was able to complete- steam cauliflower, cook and puree asparagus and artichoke hearts (I did this separately), scoop out sweet potatoes from their skin and freeze 2/3rds of it, bake pears and complete a load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Upon my return to the courthouse, we were taken into the courtroom and arranged by jury number. My #7 put me in the jury box (that was my guess). We were introduced to the attorney's for the prosecution and the defense. The accused was in the courtroom (which actually surprised me, but thinking about it, it put a face to the crime, plus it let you know that there was a person that this trial was about. We were informed that this was a first degree murder case and the trial would last through the middle of next week.

The first questions were from the judge. He was concerned about scheduling issues for some of the jurors and if anyone knew any of the possible witnesses. There were some FT students that were excused and some people that had friends in the police department that were excused. There were also 2 doctors that were also excused because of patient load.

Then, the attorneys started asking questions of the jurors, starting with the prosecution. The prosecution consisted a woman and a man (unfortunately I cannot remember their names or research their identity online. The district attorney's office doesn't have a listing of their assistants). Questions began with asking about the reasonable doubt, presumption of innocence and juror background concerns.

Then it was the defense's turn. The man's defense consisted of two men (one actually had a faux hawk- he seemed a little old for that). His questions were mostly about presumption of innocence and what is the juror's beliefs on self defense are.

What really seemed to throw some people for a loop was that Colorado law states that an individual, as long as the person claiming self defense is not the initial agressor, that person ‘has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.’

That surprised me. My assumption was that if there was an option of fleeing, a person was required to do that before applying deadly force. I really thought about that, and I belive that I could have applied the law as written and put aside my own feelings.

After the defense attorney's questions, it was nearing 5 pm. We were told by the judge that, if we continued with the juror dismissal, we would end around 5:30.

Unfortunately, daycare is not that forgiving, so I had to speak up and let them know that I would be charged $1 per minute after 6pm if I wasn't able to pick him my son up on time.

Some people were upset, but my needs are just as important as anyone elses, so we were let go for the day just after 5pm and told to return at 9am. (By the way, I was able to pick Sam up before I was charged any fees.)

Not having to report to the courthouse until 9am let me have an extra hour of time with Sam before dropping him off. We had fun playing on the floor in the family room. He kept trying to get the wrappers from my breakfast bars, but I (of course) wouldn't let him have them. On a different note, I decided to see if he could survive daycare without his binky. He was absolutely awesome. They said that he didn't have any problems. He found other things to chew on during his teething.

But I digress.

I arrived at the courthouse around 8:40 on Tuesday and read. Just after 9am, everyone but one person had arrived, so we were taken upstairs to the courtroom.

There were a few empty seats that were full the afternoon before, so we were informed by the judge that a few people were excused after speaking with the judge after we were excused for the evening on Monday. Alternate jurors filled those seats.

Since the prosecutor and the defense attorneys had not spoken with these individuals, questions were presented to them as they had been to the rest of us.

After those questions were presented we were given a break for lunch. After lunch, the attorneys took turns with their preemptory challenges (they are allowed to reject a certain number of potential jurors who appear to have an unfavorable bias without having to give any reason). As it turns out, I was one of those preemptory challenges for the prosecution. I was the 3rd person the assistant district attorney challenged (the 5th person excused overall).

I think that may have been dismissed because I'm generally a chatty person.

Now that I'm not on the jury, here is the case that is being heard.

People vs. Corey Ray Albat

I'll have to find out the determination of the jury next week.


  1. Hey Ang.

    As to the self-defense thing, even if you have the ability to flee, the attacker can still chase you and harm you, or if s/he doesn't chase you, if s/he has a weapon that can be thrown or fired, you're pretty screwed.

    When it has to do with preserving your own life, the law tends to cover using a reasonable amount of force from preventing your lift from being taken or your body injured. If someone goes to punch you in the face, you are allowed to twist his arm or punch them in a way to stop them. Shooting him in the face would be too much force. Therefore, if someone is trying to kill you, using deadly force would be a reasonable amount of force.

  2. The questions is- How would you know (absolutely sure) that someone would want to kill you versus just inflicting serious bodily injury? What if you killed the person and they were only planning on kicking your ass? Of course, there is a standard of "would a reasonable person think that the force was deadly?" There are 1,000 questions that could be asked and even more ways to answer them. I just hope that I never have to be put into that situation.

    I tried to look up the verdict in the paper, but it hasn't been published. I'll post when it does.


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