How to Avoid Jury Duty, #8: Be Pals With a Serial Killer

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Here's how this one works:

Standard voir dire question: "Has anyone you know ever been convicted of a crime?"

Non-standard answer: "I had a close friend in high school who killed 17 people."

Resulting statement: "We would like to thank and dismiss Juror Number 8."

John Backderf of Cleveland, Ohio, was excused from jury duty last week after he truthfully responded that yes, he had indeed known someone who had been convicted of a crime. Seventeen crimes, in fact. And yes, the statement "I had a close friend who killed 17 people" did (after a stunned silence) prompt the follow-up question, "Who?"

Turns out that Backderf had attended high school with former Ohio resident and now-deceased serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. It appears that Dahmer did not actually take up serial killing until after graduation (although he didn't wait very long), but the mere fact of the past acquaintance may have been enough to get Backderf out of jury duty. It may also have been relevant that Backderf is a cartoonist and writer for local alternative papers who is about to publish a graphic novel called "My Friend Dahmer," but that was not clear from the report.

So if you grew up with anybody who went on to do something heinous, you might keep that in mind when jury duty rolls around.