OT: Legal proceedings

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I've never been involved in litigation. Nor ever empaneled on a jury. So, have never *observed* the proceedings in a Court.
Typically, I get "served" to report for jury selection in January/February (no idea if this is by design or just coincidence). Expecting NOT to be selected -- but, having made the trip downtown to the courthouse -- I'd like to take advantage of that time to actually *observe* something (other than the jury pool milling about waiting to be called).
OTOH, I'm not keen on spending days/weeks repeating the trip just to see an entire case tried.
So, suggestions as to what sort of case I should go looking for? A half/full day and done?
And, how do I determine the nature of each case being tried? The courtrooms have signs outside but those don't describe (in lay terms) the case(s) being heard within... Presumably, there will be a clerk somewhere in the facility that can tell me what each one involves?
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I am sure it depends on the area you are in. For just the local court around here you are usually obligated for a week. They may select the jury one day and try a case the next day. Some cases will only take a short time and some may take several days or longer. In that case you may be on for more than a week if the trial lasts more than a week. Here they give a phone number to call after 5 in the evening and you may or may not have to show up the next day.
As to the case, it will be whatever kind they have.
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On 1/12/2016 1:09 PM, Ralph Mowery wrote:

Yes, it's varied, for me, in the past. Sometimes I can check a website a day or two before and know if my "group" has been summarily excused. Other times I have to drive downtown and report, in person. Then, get shuffled from one courtroom to another -- until they decided they've got enough "bodies" for the cases at hand.
[I think there are different pools on a weekly basis?]
There are also differences between Civil Court, Criminal Court, Federal Court and Grand Juries.

Yes, but I suspect I wouldn't want to tune in on a case that will be litigated for days/weeks (murder trial?). I imagine most *civil* proceedings are relatively short (except, perhaps, trip-and-fall where you may need testimony from "experts", etc.)
Grand Juries, I think, are empaneled for a fixed amount of time and "hear" multiple (potential) cases (?)
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On 1/12/2016 1:51 PM, Don Y wrote:

Most courts will have you just sitting in a jury room waiting for a call from the court to bring in another 12 or 20 jurors for voir dire. Bring a book, an iPad/Pod and be prepared to stay in the room other than for bathroom breaks or a meal. They don't want you wandering around while awaiting your turn.

Pray then, that you are not selected for Grand Jury duty. Depending on the jurisdiction you could wind up spending one day a week, a couple days a month, etc. for anywhere from one month to twelve months.
When you report in to the Jury Commission, check and see if you can "volunteer" for a coroner's jury (if your county uses that system). I showed up, they asked for volunteers and I said I'd be more than happy to serve on one. At the time coroner's jury was a one shot deal. I showed up and the coroner needed 6 jurors and 8 were "drafted" for the day. She asked if anyone had anything they'd rather be doing and she allowed two folks to leave (I stayed) and they did and were credited with having served.

You don't get a choice in the type of case you sit on. You go where they send you.

Again, no choice but if through some quirk of fate or procedure you can just wander around the easy way to determine if a case is civil or criminal is Criminal = People of the State of Illinois, etc. vs. John Doe and Civil = John Doe vs. James Smith and Target Corporation.
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Usually mentioning "jury nullification" during the selection process is sufficient to get you bounced off if you don't want to sit on a case.
http://www.fija.org
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Actually I do the opposite, just tell them what they want to hear in the hopes of sitting on a jury in a victimless crime type of case where I can use jury nullification to kick the persecutor in the balls. (Even if the other jurors can't be convinced, one holdout is enough to have a mistrial declared.) Hasn't happened yet though. All I've ever gotten on have been boring fender-bender type civil cases.
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On Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 3:42:41 PM UTC-5, Unquestionably Confused wrote:

I was called for jury duty last year and sat in a room with a whole bunch of people (100+?). There was an insurance case about to be heard and a list of names were called to come to the commissioner's desk and pick up a questionnaire.
They were told that they were to fill out the questionnaire, which would be reviewed by the attorneys for both parties. This would be Phase 1 of the voir dire process. You would either be dismissed as having served or you would be called for Phase 2 which would be a face-to-face voir dire. After that you would either be dismissed as having served or you would end up on the jury.
My name wasn't called, but I was curious as to what might be in the questionnaire, so I strolled up with those that had been called and grabbed a copy. I honestly thought that they just had a stack of questionnaires and that they would not miss one. Really!
As I'm reading through the questions (Have you have ever dealt with an insurance company because of an auto accident? Has anyone you know died in an auto accident? etc.) the commissioner picked up the mic and said:
"We seem to be short one questionnaire. Did anyone whose name I did not call pick up a questionnaire?"
I stood up with the questionnaire, got a dirty look from the commissioner and returned it to the desk. He asked me for my name, but I did not see him write it down or anything.
About a 1/2 hour later he picked up the mic and announced "We have more potential jurors than we need for this week's case load. If I call your name, you are dismissed as having served."
My name was the first one called and all other names were read off in alphabetical order. My last name does not put me anywhere near the top of an alphabetical list. I got a couple of knowing smiles from the crowd as I got up to leave.
It wasn't my plan to be "asked" to leave, but I guess they didn't want me hanging around. Perhaps they thought that I would be trouble.
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On Tue, 12 Jan 2016 13:50:15 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03

ROTFLOL

It sounds that way.
I lived in Brooklyn NY for 12 years where behaviour like yours would be seen as normal. Of course there was a stack and lots of people want to see what's on the form.
I was called 3 times iirc in my 12 years there, and in those days it was a week or two, maybe getting out one day early at the end, hours each day in a big room with 100 other people spent reading, but I only got on one jury**, where the plaintiff was a terrible witness for herself, just wouldn't say what her attorney wanted her to say, what she had probably told the attorney before, even though it was t he crux of the case. The case was settled before the end of the trial and the attorney found me still in the courtroom and asked how i was leaning. I said I'd tell her if she told me how the case got settled. And she did and iirc the woman got something but only 1/n of the amount she might have gotten if she'd said what I thought she was going to say.
**I was voir dired for another, but I thought one of the attorneys was stupid compared to my roommate and friend who had just graduated law schoool and couldn't get as good a job as the stupid lawyer had, so I resented him. I told the judge I should be excused, and the judge asked why. I didnt' want to say, Because the prosecutor is stupid, so I said I didn't want to say, and the judge said okay.
In suburban Baltimore, I got one jury duty letter than I forgot about and never showed up, and I feel bad about that, and I've been waiting for another one to come, but it's been 20 years and it hasn't. I vote in every election. When I'm not busy enough, I may call them and volunteer.
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On Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 4:38:47 AM UTC-5, Micky wrote:

This incident did not occur in a Kings or Queens County court, but I grew in Flushing so maybe that's where I got the "behavior" from. ;-)
...Snip...
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On 1/12/2016 1:42 PM, Unquestionably Confused wrote:

Yes, I'm familiar with the process of reporting for jury duty. My question was concerning: I'm in the courthouse and I can now go home (dismissed from serving). But, as I'm already *there*, why not sit in on an ongoing case to see what's involved (as a spectator, not as a juror). Obviously, I wouldn't want to pick a case that is going to drag on for days and days -- I'll not see it to its conclusion (I have no desire to make the trip into town on OTHER days, but, if I'm there ALREADY...)

Friends/colleagues suggest that if I was ever at a point where I *might* be seated, my "juror questionaire" would probably prompt either or both parties to have me dismissed as a peremptory challenge. ("We don't want people who are logical thinkers sitting on the jury as they'll confuse things by focusing on FACTS")

Again, I'm dealing with the situation where I'm *not* serving on a jury. I.e., as if I happened to walk into the courthouse TODAY as a "concerned citizen" and wanted to see how The Legal System works.

Ah, good point! Though I'd still not know anything of the substance of the case.
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On 1/12/16 2:51 PM, Don Y wrote:

According to a growing number of press reports, Hillary Clinton's upcoming federal felony indictments and trial will probably be pretty interesting.
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On 1/12/2016 2:51 PM, Don Y wrote:

Depends on your area, possibly even different parts of the state and it could change with time.
Here they call in a big pool of potential jurors, pick who they want and dismiss the rest. Some places, you might get jury duty for a month and have to show up every day and only be dismissed after you get called. A grand jury may be part time but last for months.
I've been called a total of 5 times but only served once. It was a medical malpractice case. Very enlightening experience that I think everyone should have. I learned a lot from the trial, not just the case itself, which was interesting but on how a jury deliberates.
I've also given a couple of depositions, filed a suit in magistrates court and one in superior court both of which were settled in my favor out of court, worked with patent and environmental lawyers, and have 2 lawyer sons.
There are a lot of misconceptions about our legal system and getting involved can make you understand it better.
I've also done some technical consulting for lawyers. Got screwed by one not paying on a drug case and overpaid by another on an accident case.
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On Tue, 12 Jan 2016 12:51:50 -0700, Don Y

They have any description? Not just the names of the parties?

No, I woudn't assume that. There is no one there with that job. There is a docket, which is posted. You can fit maybe 25 cases on one page, so there isn't any detail. And these days, and certainly in Baltimore and Baltimore County, the docket is online, so you can look the night before, but that wouldnt' include the details of the case either, and I don't think the details are ever published to the public until the case has been heard and decided, and if it's appealed and that case is heard, it's reported in a reporter, and will be online too probably.
A few cases will have a back story that has made the newspapers, so googling the names may find it, but otoh, those might well not be the one-day cases you want.
35 years ago I was at NYU for an errand and after I finished that, I took a walk and ended up downtown at the Federal Courthouse, the one you see on a lot of crime shows, especially Law & Order, with the wide, high steps, and when I went in, I asked the guard what they had going. And it's not his job either, but he told me about one he said would be interesting. I'm sure he wasn't just guessing. So I went, and it was mail fraud (since this was federal court) but it had so much more. The secretary was having an affair with the boss, and she was either a witness or a co-defendant, I forget, and there was more to it than that, maybe some violence. It would have made a great TV show or movie. But the end of the day came and, like you say, they weren't done. I was comparitively free the next day, but still didn't want to come back. I didn't think it was big enough to make the papers so I didn't even write the parties' names down. Nowadays somewhat smaller cases will make it to the web, I think, although I've never found a place where verdicts are reported. Havent' looked either.
A few years ago, there was one case I was really interested in but the two times I went downtown, it was postponed. There was a docket on the wall that listed it and said that. So after the first time, I called first. (I got stuck the second time maybe because it was postponed that morning, when I was on my way, and I'd only callled the previous day.) But finally the woman on the phone volunteered that there was a website with the docket. Maybe if I'd asked, the earlier women I talked to would have told me that. A third time I was downtown already in my car playing the radio when the news said it was postpone or settled, so I turned around.
I'd suggest you ask the guard, or anyone else, but be prepared for them not to know.
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On Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 4:02:42 AM UTC-5, Micky wrote:
...snip...

...snip...
About 10 years ago I was in Manhattan for a business trip. I was strolling around Times Square when I saw a crowd around an area that had been taped off with yellow police tape. There was a coroner's van and a few police cars on scene. As we all know "coroner's van" = "dead body" so I went over to see what was going on.
As I approached I recognized a number of the people within the taped off area and realized that they were filming an episode of Law and Order. Off to the right I noticed about 10 people, dressed in business/business casual clothes, just like me. There was a guy facing the group and I heard him say "When I give you the signal, I want you to walk right down this way and keep going until you are past the van."
I slowly walked over and when the producer(?) was looking the other way, I stood behind the group, trying to blend in as much as possible. I was thinking to myself "I am about to be on Law and Order!"
The guy eventually turned back to the group, looked it over and then pointed directly at me. "You don't belong here. Please move away."
Damn...So close!
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On 1/13/2016 9:16 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

That would have been fun. The only time I was on TV, were two very brief clips during the 6 o'clock news.
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Full-face and profile, holding a number?
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On 1/13/2016 12:12 PM, Neill Massello wrote:

You're a comic!
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Hey, I can only _wish_ that my mug shot looked as good as Nick Nolte's.
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On Wed, 13 Jan 2016 06:16:43 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03

Except NYC has a Medical Examiner and not a coroner. I'm not saying I would have thought of that in your shoes. But I know this well because I once took a course taught by the Acting? Chief Medical Examiner of NY.
And I once went to an autopsy at the Medical Examiner's office on 1st Avenue. NYC is big enough that it has its own building (plus several other locations). Though when I saw him and especially that he was my age, I decided I'd seen one autopsy and that was enough. That autopsy was of a 60 or70 year old woman. Even then, I asked someone, Where should I go if I have to throw up? He ignored me.
And come to think, I don't know if I ever saw one of their vehicles -- I can't remember ever being where someone had died, other than once seeing a hearse driving out of the funeral home on Columbus Ave. -- but I'm sure I never saw one labeled that way, even in traffic. I suspect they are in "plain clothes" except maybe the license plate and a card in the window, on the dashboard, or in the rear window.

Yes, you learned your behaviour in Flushing. When I said I lived in Brooklyn, I was including all of NYC. New Yorkers aren't the "sit down and shut up" kind, they're not pansies. They're not rude despite the media stereotype, but they have get-up-and-go. Every subgroup of New Yorkers has it.
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On Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 3:04:47 PM UTC-5, Micky wrote:

...snip...

OK, so sue me. ;-) It was 10 years ago. I should have said:
Medical Examiner's Van = Dead Body
http://gdb.voanews.com/465E3138-4805-429A-8AB5-E0020F851C31_cx0_cy8_cw0_mw1024_s_n_r1.jpg

...snip...
When I was a teenager, we used to hang out at the Kissena Velodrome in Queens. The track is still there, definitely upgraded from 4 plus decades ago, as per this picture. Note the woods surrounding the track.
http://www.nycgovparks.org/photo_gallery/full_size/10037.jpg
We not only hung out at the track, but also in the woods around the track where there were trails and other places to do the things that teenagers do in the woods.
One time we came across a dead body. It looked like a homeless guy and there was a gun lying next to the body. It was more than a few days old, based on the smell and the bugs. We were fun loving kids, not a group known to shy away from a little trouble, but dead bodies and guns were not something we wanted to mess with. This was way before cell phones so we jumped on our bikes, rode into a nearby neighborhood, called the police and then led them back to the body.
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