Indefinite jury duty. Three words that leave the average American quaking in their business attire and the new fate of Juror No. 799, a New York City woman with a severely bad attitude toward the world. A list of racist comments on her juror questionnaire and some rude comments about the New York police angered Judge Nicholas Garaufis so badly, he's told her she'll come back for jury duty for as long as he feels like calling her.
Surely Virgil Dante would have written about her if he could have seen 2011 as he wrote Inferno. She's been sentenced to her own circle of hell. And the idiot judge who put her there should be ashamed of himself.
According to reports, the women was allegedly asked to list the three people she dislikes the most. Instead, she put down "African-Americans, Hispanics, and Haitians." She later claimed that she was related to a member of a Chinese gang who is serving prison time for murder. Seen as "inappropriate" comments likely made in an attempt to get her out of serving on a jury, the prosecutors in the Vinny Gorgeous mob case asked that she be disqualified from the case.
This woman may be a baaad citizen, but she's pretty darn set on doing her darndest to screw the legal system. End up in the defendant's seat, and that's the last person I want on my jury: especially if I'm innocent! So what is this judge thinking? That he can guilt her into performing her civic duty to the best of her abilities by making her show up? Sorry. That thinking doesn't work on toddlers, and it doesn't work on jurors.
It's an imperfect part of our legal system. We depend on juries of our peers in order to give people a fair trial, but most of the time, our peers have something more pressing to take care of. Is it any wonder people go to extremes to get OUT of jury duty when they're being forced?
A year ago, a call to federal jury duty that would have required two hours of driving, each way, left me frantic until I realized I could be excused by virtue of being the primary caregiver to a child not yet in school. It wasn't that I didn't want to serve; I'm fascinated by the legal system. But to do so would have created extreme hardship for my family. Make me drive four hours a day to a job, force me to find an emergency caregiver for my kid, and then pay me bupkis for the experience? You better believe I would be a crappy juror whose mind wasn't on the business at hand.
That's not the juror you want when you're in a pickle, is it? Someone who is just counting the hours until they can run out the door and fix the disaster that awaits them at home? You'd fire them at any other job for not being prepared for the process, but in a courtroom, you're going to put someone else's life in their hands. That's what this judge is doing. He's putting the legal system in the hands of someone hell-bent on screwing it up. He may think it's a big joke, but the ramifications aren't funny.
It's hard to defend Juror No. 799 for acting like such a racist jerk, but whether she believes that stuff or not, she's proven she's a bad juror. Now a judge is unleashing her on defendants and prosecutors for an eternity to screw up the legal system.
Who is really being punished here?
Image via steakpinball/Flickr