I was summoned for jury duty this week. I suspected that I’m the kind of person lawyers hate to have on a jury, and indeed, I was one of the first three jurors the prosecution gets to kick off the jury without explanation. (The defense gets three, too.) I don’t have to go back for at least another 12 months.
I was trying to be positive about serving on a jury. It would be interesting, I would learn new things, and it would only be 3 days (in this case). But when I got out of the courtroom, I high-fived another dismissed juror and we were all grinning from ear-to-ear. Escaping jury duty made me even more excited about what I’m working on right now (a new union-ish file system and an LWN article about existing union-ish file systems).
My main conclusion from the whole experience is that the jury selection process is completely broken (noting that I believe trial by a jury of your peers is still far preferable to judges deciding court cases). The kind of jury you get for a long case is substantively different than the one you get for a short case. For long cases, only people who are paid for jury duty (mostly state employees) and aren’t essential to their organization, or people who don’t work, or people who can afford not to work and don’t have to take care of anyone at home end up on the jury. All the rest go back and get concentrated in the juries for short cases. Thus juries for short cases are mainly professionals, juries for long cases are state employees and the idle rich, and homemakers with young children are almost completely unrepresented. The longer the trial, the more restricted the jurors have to be. Think about that the next time a high-profile 6 month trial concludes with a bizarre verdict.