Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Law and Disorder

Daniel Ellis is a racist, homophobic liar. Says so himself. Ellis was one of a pool of 60 potential jurors called to serve on the Massachusetts grand jury. He completed his jury questionnaire noting he didn’t like gays or black people and, during a courtroom interview, stated, "I'm frequently found to be a liar, too. I can't really help it." The judge in the case briefly detained Ellis, who could now face "perjury and other charges".

I’ve been summoned each year for the past two. The first time I was excused, second time I wasn't called and happy as a clam about it. I was miffed and passive aggressive at the prospect of serving. I thought, "If I get selected and the defendant is some dumb ass who steals or writes bad checks or beat a kid or poisoned a dog, he's going doooowwwnnnn. He (or she) is too lazy to work for success, has no good judgment and compassion or just plain broke the law and doesn't deserve my time as a law abiding citizen." Crazy, circular, elitist thinking, I know.

Point is, if you are a racist or just don’t care, like to stir things up, lie or toy with stupid people, why would admitting that result in a tongue-lashing from the judge and possible charges? Yes, it's a civic duty, but also one that deserves the authentic self, especially when lives, livelihood and basic freedoms may be at stake. I often wonder about the makeup of a jury, specifically in high profile, lengthy cases with a good deal of evidence and testimony and expert witnesses. If I were on trial, would my “jury of peers” include only those who are my age, college educated, middle class, straight white women, single, no children? Does a jury made up of mostly women favor or disfavor certain cases? Men? Straight? Gay? Are some questions off limits?

The first time I was excused from jury duty was due to personal experiences and a vocal belief in the failure of the justice system, one that protects criminals at the expense of the victim. I was told, however, I would be called again, regardless. A friend who recently graduated Law School told me I could be a dream juror, depending on the case and the lawyer. I can’t say 100% I wouldn't have preconceived notions. We bring who we are, what we believe and our experiences, good or bad, to the court room.


Miz UV said...

It appears Ellis was only trying to get out of serving, and I think they're right to press charges. Citizens have a duty to serve. This isn't the same thing as being faced with a particular case and coming to a thoughtful conclusion that you wouldn't be able to be fair here and responsibly admitting that.

Jeff said...

Was he telling the truth about being a liar, or was he lying?

Jodie K said...

Exactly, Kos. Was he lying about being a liar or telling the truth about himself? Truth is, no he didn't want to serve. But is the rest true also? And if so, if he is, in fact, a racist, homophobic liar does that exclude him from serving his “civic duty”?

Webmiztris said...

I've always said I'd say just about anything to get out of jury duty.

But when it came down to it, I didn't have the guts to lie and say I don't like certain minorities or whatever just to get out of it...LOL

Fortunately, the case got dropped anyway. :)

I don't see how they can hold him for perjury. How do they know he's not telling the truth?

Joe the Troll said...

I'm doing my time in a grand jury right now. I'm showing this to my neighbor who just got called and wants to get out.

I think it's pretty obvious that he just wanted to get out of it. People who are racists don't identify themselves with the word "racist." They think it's just a case of not being a bleeding heart liberal. People who hate gays don't call themselves "homophobes", they call themselves "moral." And liars rarely admit to themselves, much less anyone else, that they lie.

Aries327 said...

I was called to jury duty once, but lived in a different city because I was in college. It was a sweet that I didn't have to do it, but I felt a little bad.

It was weird to be summoned. Deep down I think people should feel lucky to live in a country where we have the right to serve, not just as a duty but as a privilege of a free society, and hopefully, a just legal system.

I'm what's known as an idealist.

Don said...

I served last year and am glad I did. Would do it again. But even without that, I can't see lying to get out of it. Lying's just, um, wrong. Anyway, bottom line, the guy was obviously a terrible liar.

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