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Interesting morning in court
May 27, 2009 - Jim Smith
It was interesting to be called but not seated today as a juror in a criminal case in Wood County Circuit Court.
From 8:30 a.m. today until about 11:45 a.m. I was unusually quiet, seated and attempting to pay attention to the seemingly endless directions given by the bailiff and then the judge before the assistant county prosecutor and defense counsel started their questioning of potential jurors.
It was interesting to try and determine what the questioning was attempting to learn about each potential juror, especially since we all had filled out a relatively detailed card about ourselves.
Obviously, the attorneys and judge wanted to know if we could be impartial in hearing and deciding the case based on evidence presented, if we had any relatives or friends involved in the case, if we had previously had any dealings with any of the parties involved or had been the subject of legal action, if we expected the trial to be like "Law and Order," if we would hold it against the prosecutor if he were not as effective as the TV attorneys, if we had personal issues that would directly affect our hearing the case, if we had prior knowledge of the case and how specific was that knowledge, etc.
If I had been asked, I would have told the court that I had prior knowledge about the case, having followed it through the legal system as reporters wrote about it and having talked with reporters, as I often do, about information they had both on and off the record from public officials.
Part of my job as editor is to keep abreast of most of the information in the newspaper and the process by which it gets in the newspaper.
I have to admit, there did seem to be a lot of time spent in seating the jury, which I would presume was intentional in an attempt to get as impartial a group as possible.
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