Lessons in Avoiding Jury Duty

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Thankfully, the Chicago Tribune is providing "gavel-to-gavel" coverage of the R. Kelly trial in Cook County, and though this trial will probably teach us many important lessons, the first of them has to do with jury service.

Reporter Stacy St. Clair writes today (May 15) that she has already learned "12 ways to get kicked out of the jury pool."  Some of these we already know, but others are more intriguing, for example:

  • Suggesting (especially given the facts of the R. Kelly case) that the age of consent should be lowered to puberty, as "nature" intended;
  • Pausing for a sufficiently long period of time after being asked if you could give the defendant a fair trial;
  • Praising the defendant, such as by calling him a "musical genius."  (Asked to come up with something negative about R., this potential juror could only say, "Um, he and Jay-Z don't get along?")
  • Stating, in what was called a "perfectly worded response," that "I believe Mr. Kelly is guilty of the charges due to what I have read in the papers, and the fact that he was indicted by the grand jury further validates my beliefs."  Not coincidentally, this potential juror is a legal secretary.
  • Best: combining the suggestion that you would never convict with a reference to 9-11: "R. Kelly may have led the Taliban in attacking us on 9-11, but you can't prove it."  Well, I could if I had it on film, I think.

All of the above happened during just one day of voir dire, during which not a single potential juror was chosen for the panel.