You're told to appear for jury duty.
You've never done jury duty before.
You envision it will be glamorous.
You believe it will be just like on TV.
You can't wait for the drama.
You believe you'll make the perfect juror.
You want to be interviewed by the press after the trial is over.
You want to get on TV.
You'll be doing your civic duty.
You want to show up and help decide a case.
Doesn't matter what kind of case.
You're eager to help.
You arrive at the court house early.
You check in with the court clerk.
You politely ask what are the chances you'll get picked as a jury.
The clerk tells you "Pretty good. We have a lot of trials today."
You sit down waiting for your name to be called.
Within ten minutes, your name is called.
You're told to go into Room #1.
You walk in hoping you'll get picked right away.
You're not sure how the jury selection process works.
You don't care.
You just want to be on a jury.
You're in a room with 30 other strangers.
Most look like they'd rather be home sleeping.
None are bright-eyed and sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to begin.
"This is a competition,"you think to yourself.
You're going to 'win' this competition.
A few minutes later two attorneys walk in wearing dark suits and carrying leather briefcases.
One attorney introduces himself and without any preamble sticks his hand into a drum sitting on the table.
He pulls out a bunch of jury cards with our names on them.
He calls the first six names.
"Would you please come up and sit in the first six seats? My opponent and I would like to chat with the first six of you."
Somehow, your name is called in the first six.
You're so excited.
THIS IS IT!
"They're going to pick me," you think to yourself.
The attorney tells you this is a case involving claims of improper medical care.
It involves an injured patient who is suing her doctor.
He tells everyone in the room the names of the people involved in this lawsuit and asks if we know them.
Nobody raises their hand.
"Ok, this is interesting," you think.
The lawyer asks questions and we just answer them.
The next question is "Have any of the six of you ever been sued or brought a lawsuit before?"
Three of you raise your hand.
The lawyer asks the other two what were the circumstances surrounding the lawsuit you were involved in.
Then it's your turn.
You want to proudly stand up and in a voice loud and clear announce that you too sued your doctor for improper medical care.
You realize that would be awkward.
Instead, you do that from your seat.
"Yes, I sued my doctor," you say quickly.
"For medical malpractice. For causing me permanent harm," you answer.
The attorney politely nods his head.
"Did your case go to trial?" he asks.
"It did," you reply.
"Did the jury reach a verdict?" he asks.
"It did," you say.
"What was the result?" he continues asking.
"I lost. The jury told me that the doctor was not negligent!" you say.
"How did that make you feel?" the attorney inquires.
"Awful," you answer. "I know the doctor screwed up and the jury let him get away with it. It's outrageous I tell you!"
The attorney again nods his head without sharing what he's really thinking.
Before moving on to other jurors and other questions, the attorney asks you a few more follow-up questions...
"Before starting your lawsuit, did your attorney have your medical records reviewed by a medical expert?" he asks.
"Yes he did," you say.
"Did your medical expert confirm that you had a valid basis for a case?" he wants to know.
"Yes he did," you reply.
"Did you talk to the jury after the trial was over?" he asks.
"No, but my lawyer did," you answer.
"What injury did you have as a result of this improper medical care?" he asks you.
You're unsure whether to tell him in front of all these strangers. "What the heck," you think. "I had three corrective surgeries and that still hasn't fixed the problem," you answer.
The attorney nods and moves on to other topics.
He barely pays you any attention after that.
He asks you another one or two questions during the time given to him to question jurors.
Then the defense attorney gets up to ask questions.
He says he represents the doctor in this lawsuit.
He starts asking you questions.
"Mrs. Jones, do you think you can be fair to my client, Dr. Gold since you've already shown your feelings by suing your doctor?"
"Of course I can be fair," you say, somewhat upset that the attorney would question your motives.
"Do you think your feelings of unfairness following your own jury verdict would somehow affect your ability to judge this case?" he asks.
"Of course not," you exclaim.
"My case was different. The facts were different," you tell him in protest.
"What do you think of people who sue their doctor?" the defense lawyer asks.
"I think it's fine," you say defiantly.
"What do you think about the expert who evaluated your case who told you that you had a good case?" he asks.
"I think he's fine too," you respond.
"But the jury didn't think so, right?" he asks the obvious.
"Yes that's true, but..." you want to continue but the attorney cuts you off.
"Mrs. Jones, it appears to me that you are a jilted patient who wants to get revenge on other medical professionals. Maybe since you couldn't get justice in your case, you're desire to sit as a juror on this case may be just the remedy to soothe your hurt feelings," he proclaims.
That gets your goat!
"How dare you say that! You don't know me! You don't know my reasons for wanting to sit on this jury. I want to do my civic duty and help solve your issues. I want the chance to decide if your client was careless and whether his wrongdoing caused this patient injury," you say defensively.
"Ok, if you say so," the attorney says dismissively.
He doesn't ask you another question for the duration of his turn.
You still feel you'd be the perfect juror for this case.
You know something about medical malpractice.
You have a better understanding of what the injured patient went through.
These other jurors have never gone through this before.
They just don't know.
Someone with more personal experience should sit and decide this case.
The attorneys then excuse themselves for ten minutes.
When they return, they announce that they have excused four jurors.
You are one of them.
"Go back down to central jury and wait for your name to be called on another case," the first attorney announces.
When you are handed back your jury card, you refuse to leave.
You start pleading your case to both lawyers.
"Listen, don't excuse me from this case. I'm the right one for this case. I promise. I can be fair. I promise I can. I have more experience than the other jurors with this subject. Believe you me. I know what it means to get injured by a doctor. I know what it's like. I know how the lawsuit process works since I went through it already. Why don't you both reconsider and give me another chance, Ok?" you beg.
The attorneys look at each other.
One has a smile on his face.
The other couldn't crack a smile even if you pried his mouth open with pliers.
The smiling attorney represents the injured patient.
The unsmiling and unhappy attorney represents the doctor.
The defense lawyer is shaking his head 'no'.
You try again...
"Listen, ask me a few more questions. I know I'm the perfect juror for your case. I know I can look at this case without being biased or favoring one side. My jury verdict won't affect how I view this case. Yeah I was angry with the jury in my case, but I'm telling you, I can put that aside and focus just on the evidence and the facts of this case," you again plead.
The defense lawyer looks straight at you and says sternly "Mrs. Jones, thank you for coming in, but you are excused from serving as a juror on this case. Now please return back to central jury."
You still won't go without a fight.
"You don't understand...I'm here to do my civic duty. I want you to pick me so I can be party of this jury. I want to be entertained. I want to watch your cross examination. I want to hear the drama between you and the judge. I don't want to sit home and watch TV. I want to make a difference. This injured patient deserves to have jurors from all walks of life decide her case, just like in my case," you say.
The attorneys ask you to step outside into the hallway with them.
They don't want the other jurors listening to your speech.
The defense attorney says as politely as he can "We thank you for coming in, but you are not right for this particular case. You might be the perfect juror for another case but now we have to continue talking with the other jurors. Have a great day," he says.
You can't believe these attorneys refused to allow you to sit as a juror on this case.
You want to complain.
You want to let the chief judge know what just happened.
You let the court clerk know.
She looks at you like you're crazy.
"You want to serve as a juror?" she asks disbelievingly.
"Damn right," you say.
"Well good for you!" she replies.
"Just have a seat in the central jury room and wait for your name to be called again. I'm sure you'll get picked sometime today," she says encouragingly.