I got stuck with jury duty for the last couple of days. Usually I go in on Monday, sit around all day without being sent to a courtroom, and then go home. This time I was sent to a courtroom, but (unsurprisingly) didn’t get past the jury
tampering selection process, where they stack the jury in favor of a conviction.
The defendant was charged with eight felonies, some of which were duplicates, that translated as “accused of having drugs that he intended to sell and a pistol in his car.” Unfortunately the LA court system is very thorough about ensuring that people who object to such laws can’t get on the jury without lying.
There were at least three prospective jurors (including myself) who were dismissed for being too principled to participate. The first guy started out a bit tentative, saying he had heard that jurors could use their intuition and make a decision one whether the law itself was just and asking if that was true. Interestingly, the judge seemed to be sympathetic, saying he wasn’t allowed to answer that and telling the juror what he was “supposed” to say. That guy was subjected to a fair amount of badgering by the prosecutor, during which he steadied up and gave answers that showed he had read at least a little bit about jury nullification.
A bit later, I got moved into one of the vacant seats. To the same question, I explained that the laws we were being asked to apply were immoral, unconstitutional, and un-American, and that the very idea of a man being on trial for being a capitalist who believed in the Second Amendment was utterly repugnant to me. The judge asked if I could put that aside and vote the way he told me, to which I replied that I was never much for “just following orders.”
Shortly after me, but before I was dismissed, another guy explained that because of his personal experiences he didn’t believe in the system, wanted no part of it, and refused to vote on the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
We left at the same time, so I got to talking to the third guy. He was a black man about ten years older than me, and his experiences with the legal system were pretty much what people who pay attention to the news would expect. For example, he described how a cop had tricked him into signing a piece of paper, and then wrote a false confession above the signature as he watched. He was in prison for five months before that was thrown out. I didn’t think to ask at the time, but (again based on having paid attention) I estimate the chance of that cop receiving any negative consequences for his actions at exactly nil.