Friday, June 22, 2012

Sandusky trial reminds us of the potential sacrifice of jury duty


The Sandusky trial – this whole episode appears to be an unbelievable breakdown of trust – does at least call to mind the responsibilities of jury duty and give me pause to ponder the idea that I or anyone could be called to a difficult trial and sequestered for a long time from media.

That could be a serious matter for me, as my freelance “business” depends on connectivity. A service provider might disable or remove an account if the owner could not be reached because of sequestration (or illness, for that matter, or death, a concern for an estate), and no one had been given the power to field questions or problems in absence. With different impact, the same concerns could exist for a "conventional" social networking account. It's relevant that sequestered jury duty is not a matter of choice, as is, say, military service (although stop-loss recall is not a choice, nor would a draft be chosen "sequestration" if ever reimposed by Congress). 
  
I have thought about ways I could make my web presence more resilient should this happen with me.  I could reduce the number of blogs and go back to a model of a flat site with an “inverted list” scheme that I discussed before (June 7, 2012).

I moved back to northern Virginia toward the end of 2003, and despite voting regularly, have never received a jury summons.  My mother received one about fifteen years ago and served for one week.
    
When I lived in Texas in the 1980s, I was summoned four times, because there was a “one day, one trial” policy.  I sat on one misdemeanor (six people) jury for about three days, and was on a civil case that settled without trial once a jury was picked.

There is also the possibility of federal trial service (at the district court in Alexandria) or grand jury.  But I’ve never known someone who got a summons for either.

The chances of serving on a long, controversial trial requiring sequestration are remote – but, knock on wood. 

Update:

Media reports indicate that Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 counts today.

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