Asked extremely personal questions about sexual assault at jury duty.
March 25, 2011 2:25 PM Subscribe
Blindsided by having to disclose very personal information at jury duty. Is this typical? Is this information recorded anywhere? And can I avoid this happening again?
posted by anonymous to law & government (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was called into a courtroom with a pool of 50 or 60 other potential jurors for a murder trial. After preliminary screening, an initial round of us was called into the jury box for more intensive questioning. The judge asked whether any of us had ever been a victim of any crime, large or small. I was sexually assaulted over 15 years ago, so I raised my hand along with a few others...and the I realized that each person was being asked to recount the details of the crime, in front of an audience of 50 plus people. When it was my turn, I asked if I could approach the judge (even though this was never presented as an option.) I stood in front of the judge, surrounded by the three attorneys, the court officer, and the court clerk (all male.) Although only the people nearby could hear what I said, I think the whole courtroom could hear what the judge was saying in response, such as when he clarified "it was a rape?" The judge asked me several questions about the crime (which I answered, near tears, in about the tiniest voice imaginable.) Finally he asked whether any of this would affect my judgment. I said yes, mostly so that I wouldn't have to be in the same room with any of these people again. I was dismissed and left the courtroom.
This was the most uncomfortable I have felt in a long time. Before approaching the judge I had been asked to state and and spell my name and where I worked, in front of the full courtroom. Although it rarely factors into my day-to-day life anymore, there was a lot of secrecy around my attack (which was never reported) so "telling" has always been fraught. The judge was writing down everything that I said on a grid with each juror's name. For those of you who have been involved in court proceedings, do you know what happens with this information? Does it become part of the case record? I don't think the stenographer was taking down what I said, but I was too dumbfounded to really notice.
I really really regret raising my hand, but for whatever reason I felt compelled to answer truthfully. Is this normal jury selection procedure? Now that I know that this is a standard question in jury selection, is there a way to avoid this if I am called again for criminal court?
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