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A Funny Thing Happened on Jury Duty

The first trial was for a man accused of selling crack - second offense -
and carrying a gun.
During that jury selection the Judge asked if anyone believed drug
enforcement laws were too harsh or not harsh enough. I raised my hand
and explained that I felt it is wrong that we have our prisons 75% full of
drug addicts when there are so many corporate criminals who are given a
slap on the wrist after stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. The judge
said "Alright Mr. Burbeck, you are excused".

I later found out that this was his second trial on the offense. He was a
member of a gang, and the first trial was thrown out due to jury tampering.
I also found out that he was later found guilty.

The second trial was for an ex-con accused of carrying a gun.

Again, questions were asked of the prospective jury members. "Have any
of you been on a jury before?" I raised my hand and told of the trial in
LA where a man was accused of his third offense of car theft and we
convicted him and sent him away for life (the "three strikes" law). I
explained to the judge that we didn't want to send a man to prison for
life for stealing cars and that I felt the three strikes law should apply to
violent crimes only. "It was a very unpleasant experience, your Honor."
I also mentioned that "white collar" crime
penalties should be updated to reflect the magnitude of corporate
thieves who steal hundreds of millions of dollars. The judge said
"Alright Mr. Burbeck, you are excused".

The third trial was again for a crack cocain dealer. Again there were many
questions to the prospective jurors, one again was do you feel that the
punishments for drug offenses are too harsh or not harsh enough? I
again explained that I feel that the judicial system needs reform when
Michael Milken was fined $200 million dollars after stealing and cheating
the American public out of BILLIONS of dollars. He spent 18 months in
a minimum security prison and was released to spend his loot. "Milken's
punishment for costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars is
comically trivial" - a quote from Benjamin Stein who wrote a book
(License to Steal) on Milken's carreer in crime.

The judge asked "But you can remain impartial and perform you service
as a jury member, couldn't you?" I said "No, I can't say that your Honor."
She said "Alright Mr. Burbeck, you are excused".

At each of these instances I felt a little like I was shirking my responsibility
as a citizen, and then I remembered the trial in LA where we had no choice
but to send a man away for life, when we didn't feel it was appropriate. At
that trial, when we got to the deliberation room and it was clear that
the verdict was going to be guilty, I stopped the proceedings and filed
the form to ask the judge a question. She dragged everyone back into the court
room and read my question - "Can the jury recommend psychological evaluation
of the defendant?" The Judge turned to the jury and rather rudely told us that
our only task was to determine guilt or innocence.

It really was a very horrible experience and I truely believe that the judicial system
needs major reform, so the shirking of responsibility feeling lasted only till I
remembered how I was forced to perpetuate what I feel is a judicial injustice.
In my opinion, they got more than they deserved out of me.

(The quotes are from the best of my recollection and may not be exact. I did
not take notes and recording devices are forbidden).
 
 


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Comments

Re: A Funny Thing Happened on Jury Duty

Nice to hear that you stood your ground and remained honest.

After my first hand experinces with the 'justice system' and seeing what a crock it really is, i became sick to my stomach. I was not moved to become a judge or attorney to 'change the system from within.'

>"It really was a very horrible experience and I >truely believe that the judicial system
>needs major reform...."

Is reform really an option? I don't think so.
 

Re: A Funny Thing Happened on Jury Duty

My advice: next time, lie about having a strong opinion one way or another. Keep your seat on the jury.

That we are forced in America to participate in a jury, being held hostage effectively while our jobs suffer and our freedom is denied us, is sick. So we all seek to get dismissed and regain our freedom and dignity and get back to our lives.

But consider that if you make the sacrifice and stay on the jury, you may have a wonderful opportunity to fight the system by rendering a Not Guilty verdict for some poor citizen who is being persecuted by unconstitutional victimless-crime laws and an abusive, out-of-control government.

Even if the jury deadlocks and they eventually re-try, this costs the bastards time and money. It discourages the DA from even bringing such cases to trial, the most costly and difficult they become.

It'll cost you some time, yes. And money, in the time you lose from work. Maybe you can't afford that. Which is fine, it's your right. It's your money, your time, and your life.

But maybe you can afford it? Maybe you can afford to fight the system and make a real difference. Freedom isn't free. We have to fight for it.

Sam
 

Re: A Funny Thing Happened on Jury Duty

I was called for jury duty and once they saw me and heard my 'lower class' voice telling them I needed to go to work I was excused immediately.

Meanwhile every university student and university professor was excused without question.

One woman who was not excused was a single mother who had no child care. She was forced to commit to community service in lieu of jury duty.
 

Please Stay on Juries to Fight Back Against Drug Prohibition

This is particularly important in "Drug War" cases. As Sam Addams points out, if you can afford it, you are serving both the individual unfairly arrested under medieval "forbidden drug" laws and the community--which has real prospect of changing this brutal system other than thru juries (the 4th branch of government).

For more information on jury nullification, check out: www.fija.org/
 

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