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Wood County safe again
July 10, 2009 - Jim Smith
The people of Wood County again are safe ... today, I believe, is the last day for me to be subject to jury duty!
Since May 11, I have been ordered to circuit court three times.
The first time was before Judge Robert Waters when I was not selected for the jury that eventually found the defendant not guilty of a child molestation charge. Darn glad I didn't have to sit on that jury. I'm afraid I would have found it extremely difficult to find anyone so charged not guilty even if they were.
The second time I had to appear in Judge J.D. Beane's court. After two hours of waiting around, the case of felonious assault involving a cutting was plea bargained, Beane came into the jury room and told us. To me it seemed like a bar fight that got a out of hand, but not to the felony level ...but then again I wasn't the one cut. Of course I don't hang out in bars, either.
The third time I was called, along with enough people to fill the spectator section of the courtroom, it was to Judge Jeff Reed's court for an armed robbery case. After about 30 minutes of hanging out in the jury room, we all were called into court where Reed informed us the case was plea bargained and we could go home.
So over two months I was called three times and two of those were plea bargained, making me think a jury is an intimidation tool used by the attorneys to get a deal both sides can live with.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I didn't have to spend days sitting in a courtroom listening to testimony and the ramblings of attorneys and their jargon, but I also didn't like having my life disrupted for no bottom-line reason.
Yes, jury duty is a responsibility all citizens should take seriously, just like voting, but I wonder if the justice system takes the time of the jury pool seriously when cases are set and then plea bargained the morning trial is set to begin. Of course, if every defendant were put on trial before a jury, the court system would grind even slower ... if not to a complete stop. And, the court costs would be incredible.
I know I'm just glad it's over and I can't be called for another two years.
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