Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What I've learned

Today marks the end of the first month of grand jury, completing one-third of my commitment. I'm not at all sorry I agreed to do it and I've learned a lot, including:
  • how to find the courthouse downtown and how to park without getting tickets
  • all the acronyms and abbreviations used by the criminal legal system--I guess every profession has its own code
  • how pervasive the old myths are surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault
  • what happens to someone when they get shot at very, very close range
  • how incredibly intricate good police work is and how impressive the people are who do it
  • how much of police work is attributable to good luck
  • how easy it is to subtly influence peoples' opinions based on the words you use to describe the crime or the defendant
  • the reason that a defendant's prior arrests and convictions are excluded from most trials
  • the enormous power that a grand jury has to indict under almost any circumstances, even absent a request from the district attorney (although I'm sure it's almost never used)
  • how incredibly stupid people can be and how dearly they can pay for it
  • how pervasive the scourge of illegal drugs is and the high, high toll they take from our society
  • how complex group dynamics are and how simplistic they appear
  • why every psychology student taking a social psychology course should serve on the grand jury instead
  • how hard it is for me to make a quick decision

1 comment:

Electric Monk said...

This must feel like an enormous burden, but I can't think of anyone I'd want to be on a grand jury more than you! You're probably more logical and reasonable than 99.9% of the people they could have!