Monday, June 2, 2008

Tour of Duty . . .

and the Hamilton County Courthouse

Part I - Jury Duty

So earlier this month, I served on Jury Duty for Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. Having never served on Jury Duty I was actually kind of excited. Both for the experience and to actually see the place on the inside. I had actually only peeked my head in once years ago. I just do not have reason to go in. The only downside in all this was work has been busy so I still needed to go to work both before and after my service each day. This explains in part the lack of posts for the month of May.

Unfortunately, the Hamilton County Courthouse interiors are actually fairly uninteresting. The main public space is the two story, barrel vaulted lobby that runs the length of Main Street. Other than that, it is a series of corridors with offices or courtrooms on either side. I was in only two courtrooms and neither one was all that fancy. (And the benches were very uncomfortable!) I understand the Law Library but never saw it and I am not even sure it is open to the public.
In my two weeks of service, I never actually deliberated on a trial.

The first week I was an alternate juror for visiting Judge Niehaus on a criminal case. Twenty-four persons were called and twelve people chosen to sit on the jury, along with one alternate who would hear the case but not deliberate and be dismissed provided all the jurors could serve. The first twelve sit in the jury box and through a process called voir dire, potential jurors are questioned both by the judge then the lawyers for both the defense and plaintiff. Potential jurors can then be removed through two types of challenges. So when all was said and done, I was the only alternate for this case which ended up being a criminal case of theft. Hearing the case I thought it was fascinating (i.e.: Suspect police work, defendant doesn't take the stand) but since I was the alternate, odds were that I would not have to deliberate. And I didn’t. After the trial was over I was dismissed and the bailiff gave me instruction on how to find out the verdict (Guilty as charged).

The second week I was as a potential juror for Judge Dennis Helmick on a case with two counts of felonious assault. Twenty-fours persons again were called and after eight people were dismissed, I was one of two final people left sitting in the jury pool. So I was dismissed. A couple of days later I checked the County's website to see what the outcome of the trial was. I believe the young man (and he was barely legal) was found guilty on one count, not guilty on another.

All-in-all, I thought it was very interesting but I was exhausted for two weeks as I served my hard time.

Next: Part II - Hamilton County Courthouse

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