Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jury Duty: Wouldn't My Jury Service Be Challenged?

I have made the argument elsewhere that I am unable to serve on a jury: that my disqualification results from the action of the District of Columbia Government in affirming as genuine and credible the sworn allegation of my former employer that I was terminated from my job as a paralegal in late October 1991 in part because a psychiatrist identified my belief that I was a victim of job harassment as the product of a psychiatric "disorder."  See Freedman v. D.C. Department of Human Rights, D.C.C.A. no. 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1, 1998).

I suppose there will be people who will see my contention as frivolous -- ridiculous, even.  I was terminated from my job effective October 29, 1991, nearly 20 years ago.  Can a mental status determination from 20 years ago affect my ability to serve on a jury today?  Most people would say no.

I'm not so sure about that.  In truth, I have never served on a jury, and although I am licensed to practice law, I have no trial experience.  I have no real life experience with jury selection.  All I know about jury selection comes from a Wikipedia article, if I might be permitted to admit that.

This is what Wikipedia has to say.

Jury selection are many methods used to choose the people who will serve on a trial jury. The jury pool is first selected from among the community using a reasonably random method. The prospective jurors are then questioned in court by the judge and/or attorneys. Depending on the jurisdiction, attorneys may have an opportunity to mount a challenge for cause argument or use one of a limited number of peremptory challenges.  In some jurisdictions that have capital punishment, the jury must be death-qualified to remove those who are opposed to the death penalty. Attorneys sometimes use expert assistance in systematically choosing the jury, although other uses of jury research are becoming more common. The jury selected is said to have been "impaneled."

So let me state what I believe.  I am sitting in a court room.  I say to an examining attorney: "I was terminated from my job in 1991 because my employer talked to a psychiatrist who said I had severe mental illness.  The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed that my employer's sworn declaration that it spoke with a psychiatrist was genuine and credible."  The attorney is likely to say, "That was in 1991.  That's a long time ago.  What does your job termination have to do with your competence to serve on a jury now."  I would respond: "I believe that my employer broke into my apartment in January 1990.  The D.C. Office of Corporation Counsel cited that belief as pertinent to my mental fitness to work."  The attorney will say: "That was 1990.  This is 2011."  I will respond: "I still believe that my employer broke into my apartment.  The D.C. Office of Corporation Counsel placed in controversy with the D.C. Court of Appeals that I believed my employer was involved in a criminal conspiracy against me."  The attorney will say: "A criminal conspiracy?"  I will say: "Yes, a criminal conspiracy.  The employer was working in collusion with my treating psychiatrists and psychologists in 1990 and 1991 to violate the D.C. Mental Health Information Act by disclosing to the employer confidential information that I disclosed to my doctors."  The attorney will say: "You are describing events that occurred in 1990 and 1991, 20 years ago."  I will respond: "But I still believe that my employer was involved in a criminal conspiracy, and the D.C. Government through the Corporation Counsel cited that belief as evidence of my inability to perform useful work.  According to the criteria set by the D.C. Government, I am still delusional.  I still believe I was a victim of job harassment. The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed as genuine and credible my employer's allegation that my belief was delusional.  I still believe that my employer was involved in a criminal conspiracy.  I suppose my employer would say that was delusional too.  So according to the criteria set by the D.C. Government I think I still qualify as a delusional person."

Do you get the picture by now?  Do I need to go on?

Do you really believe that any attorney, not to mention the presiding judge who is listening to this colloquy, would find me competent to serve on a jury?  I think not.  I believe that the facts about my beliefs and mental status placed in controversy by the D.C. Office of Corporation Counsel, both before the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals, will for all practical purposes render me permanently disabled to serve on a jury in the District of Columbia.  I believe that my inability to serve on a jury resulting from the actions of the D.C. Office of Corporation Counsel constitutes a federal civil rights violation.  The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a citizen has a constitutionally-protected right to serve on a jury.

But, hey, I have asymptomatic paranoid schizophrenia.  So what do I know?

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Don't think for a minute that I am not itching to say all this in open court before a judge!!

I won't bother with the juror office -- with a note from a doctor. I'll show up in open court with my story. And what a story I will have to tell!!