Monday, January 14, 2008

Librarians in the Jury Box by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

The January/February 2008 issue of American Libraries includes an article that I appreciated and enjoyed, for it really speaks to what has happened in my life and in my library. It is entitled "Librarians in the Jury Box: Why Do Information Professionals Make Such Desirable Jurors?" by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell. It can be found on pages 50 to 54.

It has not happened recently, but the staff at my library has often gotten jury notices. In Cook County, Illinois, the jury system has a one day or one trial call. If you do not get assigned to a jury the day of your call, you are released. If you do, you serve until the case is done. Most of the staff has gone for the one day, or even no days, when there is a phone number to call ahead to see if any juries will actually be selected that day.

I have twice been interviewed by attorneys in the jury selection process and was selected both times. So, I'm two for two. In both cases many prospective jurors were being rejected, and I was retained after only a few quick questions. Maybe Maxwell is correct in saying that attorneys readily accept librarians.

The first case I served on concerned assault and battery. The defense attorney tried to discredit the witnesses but failed. The case took three days, and we found the defendant guilty.

The second was a medical malpractice case. The doctor being sued was not on the scene when an infant was injured during emergency delivery. It was the doctor's weekend off. The claim was that he had not filled out a form completely at one of the mother's prior examinations. The jury decided the form was irrelevant in the emergency delivery. The case took five days, and we found the doctor innocent.

Both experiences were very education and satisfying, and I would readily serve again. It would be interesting to hear other librarians report on their experiences as jurors. Have many of us served on juries?


Caroline Hopkinson said...

I've been selected twice, 2 for 2, I think. I was at the end of the jury selection one other time, I'm not sure if they ran out of "excuses" or excused me.

I also found it interesting to be a juror and I certainly think the process is better than the alternatives. Both cases I served on were criminal; I felt that the prosecution felt a bit more accepting than the defense, but perhaps both felt they'd get a fair shot. I think they were right.

maggie moran said...

I'm picked everytime and I thought there was something to it because they never gave me a second look as an air traffic controller. Good stuff to ponder and I enjoyed Maxwell's article.

laura said...

I've been on trial, but I've never been on a jury or even been selected for one. In my experience, people with a lot of education tend to get kicked off juries, but perhaps librarians are the exception.