Having been in federal law enforcement for most of my adult life, I was involved in many court trials. As the investigator, I was aware of most of the facts on both sides of the case, not just the prosecutions. Watching jurors during trial I have always wondered what it would be like to sit on a jury; to see what a case looks like from their perspective because very often the facts, whether from witness testimony or the admission of physical evidence, can be incomplete, presented in a disjointed order or lacking context leaving jurors to rely on the attorneys’ closing argument to put the bits and pieces together. Even then, jurors must contend with, and reconcile, diametrically opposed explanations of what the same set of facts mean.
I have been summoned many times but have never been able to serve. Usually, I don’t even get in the pool of potential jurors sent into the courtroom for jury selection. And when I do, I don’t get selected to go into “the box” as a potential juror to face voir dire, the questioning of potential jurors by the judge and attorneys to determine their competency to sit in judgement of another.
The closest I ever got was a civil case in which the plaintiffs were suing another party and their insurance company over an accident wherein the plaintiff’s car was rearended by the defendants resulting in many cases of whiplash and related injuries. The trial became necessary because the insurance company suspected it was a fraudulently staged accident. I was sent to the courtroom and was in the first group to go into the box. I’d been here before but had always been “Thanked and excused” by the judge once I described my background. However, that day, there were no objections by the judge or either attorney. Then the defense attorney began his voir dire of individual potential jurors. When he asked me if I could be fair, and base my decision only on the evidence presented, I answered I could, but I added I supervised several people who investigated Medicare/Medical fraud cases.
The attorney apparently had not been paying attention during the judges’ interview because the smug look on his face changed to a questioning one as he asked me what I did for a living. When I said I was an FBI Agent, he, with a quick twist of his chair and a cartoon-like snap of his neck toward the judge, loudly demanded, “You, Honor. We have to get rid of him!”
The grinning judge agreed, saying “That didn’t take long”. I was then “Thanked and excused” – again!