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Author Topic: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.  (Read 2962 times)

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5x5

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Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« on: September 13, 2007, 01:13:20 PM »

Hi everyone.  I haven't posted here before but have been listening to the podcasts for several months now.  Love the discussions. 
I have an uplifting story that I wanted to share with you all regarding my husband's recent stint on jury duty and I apologize in advance for the length of it.  This story might change the minds of some of you (like me, in the past) who've dreaded the hell out of jury duty and tried to find every way imaginable to get out of it.  IT'S WORTH GOING.

It was only for a traffic ticket...speeding.  The lady had taken time off work and actually cared enough to NOT pay the ticket but to argue her case in front of her peers.
Some big guy volunteered to be foreman of this six person jury.  After hearing all the evidence and arguments from both sides, my husband and the rest of the jury filed into their room and sat down.  Everyone was clear in their head that, yes, the lady HAD in fact been driving faster than the government's sign said she could.  Now all they had to decide was how much to fine her.  The judge had informed them it could be from $1.00 to $150.00 depending on their judgment.  Most of the jury was in favor of $49 since the lady had been driving 49 miles an hour.  I know.  I know.  A ridiculous, life-threatening, child-endangering speed.  She should have gotten the chair.
But my husband, 6'3", long-haired, earring'ed, Libertarian that he is quietly said that his vote was for $1.00.  All the other jurors rolled their eyes and the youngest, a kid of about 22, said that didn't send a very good message about the dangers of driving too fast.  People should not be allowed to just drive any speed they wanted. 
My husband just explained to them that he had gotten speeding tickets before.  In fact, he broke the posted speeds nearly every day at some point.  He looked around at them and asked if any one of them could honestly say that they had NEVER driven faster than the government said they could.  Of course, they all had...and all admitted it.  They just hadn't had the misfortune of getting caught.
His question to them was....what right do we as her peers who, every day do just what we're judging HER for, have to take her money from her and give it to the state?  Should we not all go right out there and pay this fine, too?  What is the right thing to do here?  What is the COMMON SENSE thing to do?

The lady paid a $1.00 fine for going 4 mph over the posted speed.  They let my husband read the judgment when they reentered the courtroom and he said he looked the cop who wrote the ticket right in the eye as he read it.  Of course, the cop and his buddy who had tagged along looked at each other and rolled their eyes like the jury was a bunch of fruitcakes.

What is so GREAT to me about this story is that my husband has never been an activist of any kind.  He is quiet and unobtrusive always.  Before now, he would never have spoken up like this and tried to influence a roomful of people this way.  But he did speak up and he did influence them.   He was also able to get Ron Paul's name into the conversation since someone asked him what his political affiliation was. 

Jury duty is a way to meet people in a situation and propagate ideas, possibly make an impact in an important case (or even a speeding ticket case!  It still matters!), and satisfy yourself with doing something right.  I'll never look at jury duty the same way again since my husband made his small but meaningful stand.
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YixilTesiphon

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2007, 02:53:03 AM »

Awesome.
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And their kids were hippie chicks - all hypocrites.

Free_Marketeer

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2007, 05:51:48 AM »

What city, county?

Edit: Yeah, awesome.  +1.  :)
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SnowDog

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2007, 09:32:37 AM »

I was on jury duty here, in Houston, about 2 months ago. It was a family case. There was a young mother, 20 years old whose two children were taken away from her by the state after SHE called Child Protective Services in an effort to punish her ex boyfriend, by claiming he was a child molester, who was the father of the eldest child. This girl was a screw-up, but had a close family consisting of her mother, her grandmother, her brother, and the ex boyfriend who demonstrated that he was doing everything he could for his daughter. Well, the state had taken the children away from the young mother and had given both children to the mother's mother (the grandmother) about 18 months ago. They insisted that the young mother move out of the house of her mother so that her mother could raise the two kids. This was the condition upon which the grandmother could keep the children -- that the mother not be living with her, as well.

Well, there was one incident about 18 months prior where the mother went out shopping for a day. She left the two kids with her mother (the great-grandmother). Toward the end of the day, the young mother came over to the house while her mother was out shopping, and took one of the two kids. When the grandmother got home that Saturday evening, she called CPS, who came out early on Monday morning and then took both kids away from the grandmother because she failed to keep the young mother away from the kids. So, 18 months go by while the kids are in foster care.

It was our job to decide what to do with the kids. The family was a black family, and there were two black jurors, and then ten of us white jurors. Under Texas law, family court decides outcomes with only ten jurors in consensus. All the white jurors wanted to take the kids away from the family and leave them in foster care. The two black jurors were livid, and desperately wanted the kids to stay with the family. Then there was me; and I couldn't understand why we should take the kids away from a family when only one mistake was made by a grandmother who had them in her care. So I stood with the two black jurors, leaving nine white jurors wanting to take the kids away from the family. This left us deadlocked, and ultimately, we were able to come to a consensus whereby we gave one of the children to her natural father who was also the foster guardian at the time, and a close friend of the family -- and who made it quite clear that he really loved his kid and was doing everything he could to raise her well. We left the other child with the family while giving CPS an oversight role. I don't think any one of us knew what it meant to give the state an oversight role, by making them a co-guardian, but I think we all thought that they would check up on the family from time to time. It was the only thing we could do to keep from being hung, and it seemed like the best possibility of all possible scenarios. If we had hung, then another year would have gone by with the kid growing up in foster care, and then another jury would probably have made the decision if the family could afford another trial. 

So, you can make a difference, and this event left me with an observation on jury nullification: In a case where we would like to see jury nullification, it will be an almost impossible task. The lawyers will vet you out unless you just lie to them. Then there will probably be several other jurors who will tell the judge if you don't follow the written charge sent to the jury. Then you may be on the hook for perjury or contempt of court. It's too much pressure, and too much risk, it seems to me. The best thing is to just be honest and maybe you'll get through the vetting process.

Another observation that I want to make is that it's become clearer to me now, what the effect is to reduce the number of jurors required for consensus. Until a couple of years ago, family court here, in Texas, required 12 jurors to reach a consensus. If this requirement had been present in my case, then there was no chance that the state could have taken the kids from the family. With the requirement now being only 10 jurors, it's easy to see how the minority view can be ignored in cases like this.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2007, 10:11:35 AM by SnowDog »
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5x5

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2007, 09:57:27 AM »

I meant to post again right away but since I nimbly doused my laptop with an entire cup of hot java two mornings ago, I've spent the last two installing Linux on my husband's crappy desktop.  Argh.  Unneeded info, I know.

In reply to Free_Marketeer, it was in a little town just south of Fort Worth, city court.  I don't usually get specific about locations. 

To SnowDog, I would have been right with you on your jury stint.  The CPS or DFACS, as it's called in Georgia, is one of the WORST bureaucracies under the umbrella of the state.  And in regards to vetting, we talked this all out before he went for his stint and he had no problem saying 'no' when the question was asked if he thought a cop would ever lie in a court of law.  Whether he was being truthful or not, you can use your imagination. 8)  But what we decided in our conversation, right or wrong, was that if justice (as WE see it)  is ever going to be done or any kind of progress made in a small way towards Liberty, these are decisions that have to be pondered.  And of course, we talked about the fact that the state never, EVER lies to us citizens, does it?  The state never, ever uses falsified evidence or lies to convict anyone, does it?

Heh.
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alkanen

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2007, 10:15:19 AM »

I've spent the last two installing Linux on my husband's crappy desktop.

+1 for using Linux, and for the story.
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5x5

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2007, 05:28:34 PM »

Whatever.  It was only a couple hours on two mornings for PCLinuxOS.  XP for my husband took two full days with all his software, updating drivers, downloading security updates, etc.  PCLOS has one application where you can download, update and install EVERYTHING with a couple of clicks.  XP still doesn't have working sound....but it works in Linux.  On the same machine.  Hmm.  'Self abuse' (by its TRUE meaning) = linux is just about right, my friend.   :lol:
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bonerjoe

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2007, 06:41:46 PM »

Linux is free because it sucks doing just about everything.

Microsoft and Apple charge because they actually work. Most of the time.
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5x5

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2007, 07:55:46 PM »

MJ...right on about Ubuntu.  I didn't care for that one either.  If you ever get the itch again, try PCLinuxOS.  I was pretty amazed.  Before this year, I last tried Linux about six years ago with Mandrake and jeez, that was a huge turn-off.  It was just so much trouble in every respect.  This new one installed in fifteen minutes.  I was changing my icons in about twenty.  Lol.

About the last post...whatever dude.
Never mind about the THOUSANDS of huge webservers that run Apache on Linux and straight-up Unix machines.  Never mind that most of the largest corporations in the country run their backbone apps in a Unix environment because of its stability, ease of securing against hacking and viruses and the ability to customize to THEIR business and machines rather than vice versa.  I'm totally for Microsoft selling their shit to whomever will pay for it.  That's awesome.  If you can get someone to pay for something, more power to you.
But Linux has a community of developers that rank in the millions.  They aren't going to work each day and slugging along through their jobs.  They develop applications and differrent distributions because they actually love what they're doing.  They may eventually have an eye toward reaping some financial benefit (many high quality applications are already 'commercialized' ) and I do foresee that day, but for now...their concern is creating flawless products that have taken literally decades to perfect as opposed to Microsoft who quite literally copied the ideas of others to create the foundation of their system and then just cobbled shit together and stuck shit on and patched it up, hence the horrible experience that millions of people are experiencing with Vista.
I have no problems whatsoever with Apple.  The macs I've had were champs.
But if your argument is that everything that you have to pay for is quality and everything that is free is shit, I'm gonna have to disagree with you there. 
I.E.  Ron Paul's 'government' proposes to be as close to 'free' to us as it can get.  Our current system costs us blood, sweat and tears.  Which one of those comes out on top as far as quality goes? 
Hey, that's a pretty cool analogy when you think about it.
The Demo's and Repo's are pretty much LIKE Microsoft as far as a badly designed system that is so entrenched in society that people don't know how to let go of it and try something new.  I like that.  I'm gonna have to think about that awhile.
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bonerjoe

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Re: Greetings all. A nice jury story from Tex-ass.
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2007, 07:59:46 PM »

Servers, not fairly trouble free GUI's.

Don't get pissed because I'm right.
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