Daniel Galuhn, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Fall 2015 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: On his way to his Media Law class this afternoon, A went to check his campus mailbox and found an unpleasant surprise: a jury duty notice. While sulking and grumbling to his friend B about how he’s too busy to attend, B suggested that being on a jury would give him a better perspective on everything he’s learning in class and that he might even be put on an interesting case. A considered B’s advice and changed his mind; he is now looking forward to jury selection and is determined to make it on a jury. How should A go about preparing for jury selection to increase his chances of being on the jury?
While having your name drawn to be summoned for jury duty is done randomly by a computer, there are a few basic factors that are considered when jury duty happens. In the case of student A, as someone who would like to serve on a jury, he should know that being respectful of the court procedure and remaining unbiased will provide the best chance possible for that student to serve jury duty.
It is human nature to have our own opinions about people or issues that might appear in a case and it would be irrational to have zero emotional response regarding facts of a criminal case. However, appearing as someone who has no character biases toward a person’s identity, such as race, religion or sexuality, is crucial for serving on a jury. Student A must also be willing to set aside any emotional opinion he has toward a case and show that he is willing to analyze the facts as they are presented to reach a fair verdict. Finally, it is good to show that you are willing to conduct your actions and thoughts in a manner consistent with jury regulations, such as reserving judgment on any information given until it is proven.
The way you present yourself physical is just as important in this situation as well. Dressing appropriately and acceptable hygiene indicate in a judge’s mind that you are responsible, mature and ready for this responsibility. Answering questions in a calm and conducted way also suggests that you are someone who isn’t overeager or anxious to dodge jury duty. Because student A actively wants to serve on a jury, it is especially important that he controls that emotion because seeming too willing to serve jury duty can potentially seem suspicious.
Going in to the jury selection process knowing what judges are looking for can make sure you aren’t disqualified for something basic. Displaying an acceptabl moral outlook, as well as remaining aware of your attitude and mannerisms is crucial in making a good impression that is likely to get student A selected to serve. Ultimately however, since jury duty tampering is highly illegal and begging to be put on a jury will only send you out the door, it comes down to doing and saying the right things and just hoping you set yourself in the mind of the judge as one of twelve people who would provide a fair and accurate verdict.
Daniel is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Public Relations/Sustainability.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.