Today we heard from an expert analyst at the company called Shotspotter. This company places microphones around a city above the roof lines of the houses, microphones which are always listening for what they call an ‘impulsive sound’ which is basically a gunshot sort of sound. Should the system hear an impulsive sound, it will record it (including the 4 seconds prior to the start of the event and 4 seconds after the event ends), use multiple sources around the event to triangulate the position of the shots, and notify the police automatically.
I’ve written a lot of specifics so far, but thought it might be worth describing a typical day of actually sitting on jury duty. There are 3 defendants, each represented by a public defender. One defendant has an extra, private sector lawyer who was called in on special circumstances…whatever that means. We (the 15 members of the jury [12 main jurors, 3 alternates]) need to be assembled in the jury room by 9:30 on days that we have court.
I’ve sat in court for about 14 days (Mon-Thur every week) now, and it’s been a learning experience. The first few witnesses were actual eyewitnesses who were robbed that night; their stories pretty much lined up with each other. We start with prosecution witnesses. Each witness takes the stand after being sworn in, and the DA questions them. After she is done questioning them, each defense attorney then gets a chance to question the witness, but only about things that the DA brought up; they can’t randomly ask “do you know if [VICTIM] ever stole a car?
The first day of the actual trial, we hear opening statements. The district attorney states a pretty impassioned case against the 3 defendants. Of course, that opening statement (and the statements of the defense) are not evidence* and are not to be considered such. The opening statement of the DA is pretty rough. She has accused Defendant 1 of many things, but mostly it boils down to: robbery, kidnapping, and the murder of 2 bystanders.
We reported for voir dire, which is apparently a different process from the summons. Here is how that works: From the pool of 100 of us, they call 12 names, apparently at random. The 12 people who are called on sit in the jury box and are asked questions one by one, first by the prosecution and then by the defense. Using the questionnaires that we filled out the previous day, each lawyer asked questions that are clearly tailored with some goal in mind.
A month ago I got a jury duty summons in the mail. I’ve never received a jury duty summons; 33 years I lived in Ohio, not a single jury duty summons in sight (though Michelle had one summons after six years there). 18 months in California, Michelle and I have both been summoned once. Anyway, I pretty much ignored it until the night before when I am supposed to check to see if I have to report.
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