WHAT’S IT LIKE TO SERVE ON A GRAND JURY?
I received an interesting letter/proposal today. In the mail was an offer to be part of a Grand Jury here in Las Vegas.
Note this is entirely *voluntary.” It’s not a jury summons. I’ve been picked for jury duty a few times and even served on a trial that lasted a full week (it was a jewelry robbery). I had very positive impressions after that experience. However, serving on a Grand Jury is a much bigger commitment.
The Grand Jury meets once a week usually for a full day. The appointment term is one year. So, that’s 52 weeks of service, usually at the local courthouse. See what I mean about a major commitment?
At first glance, this is an easy — no! I can’t write about any of the proceedings. Some cursory research indicates Grand Jurors can speak and write about their experiences in very general terms afterward, but that’s it. Oh, and the pay — it’s shit. Not that anyone joins a jury to get rich, but payment of $40 per day for about 10 hours of out-the-door-and-back-at-end-of-the-day work amounts to about $4 an hour (think the Omaha High-Low game at the Orleans), only hanging out with worse scumbags.
The other negative is the inevitable exposure one gains to very high-profile cases, and Las Vegas has (and will have) some whoppers. If I end up accepting the proposal and get selected, I won’t be able to talk about any of the happenings (which aren’t trials but rather deliberations on the question of an indictment — usually for the most serious crimes). I won’t even be able to announce I’m on a grand jury, either. So, this is likely the final public statement I’ll make about it.
The upside is threefold. First, how often do any of us have a chance to serve and assist in such an important civic function? Second, our criminal justice system is very flawed, and here is a rare chance to observe it more closely from the inside. Third, I’m sure some aspects of the experience would be very interesting, and as someone who is naturally curious, perhaps exposure to some things could even alter the way I see various issues.
What I’m seeking here are opinions, input, and perhaps most important — any thoughts from someone who has actually SERVED on a Grand Jury for an extended period of time. I take the opportunity and responsibility seriously, but I want to make sure I make a wise decision.
Thanks in advance to anyone who wishes to share their thoughts.
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