The Truth And Consequences
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California September 24, 2002
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The Truth,And ConsequencesMeet a juror forced to tell the truth, and gets punished for doing so, as an alternative to telling a lie and getting punished for telling a lie.
Truth hurts for potential juror
Friday, September 20, 2002By Doug Guthrie
The Grand Rapids Press
Lori Blumke thought she was doing her civic duty last week when she told a judge her recent hard feelings toward police officers might taint her ability to serve as an impartial juror.She was stunned when David Buter, chief judge of Grand Rapids District Court, declined to excuse her from jury duty. Instead, he ordered her to perform 24 hours of community service. ....."I feel like I got punished for being honest about my opinion," said Blumke, who manages Bridge Street Superwash Laundromat on Grand Rapids' West Side. ".....I'm being treated like a criminal because I told the truth."Buter insists he did not punish Blumke but offered her a choice between community service or changing her mind about police......
Michigan court rules allow a judge to hold a potential juror in contempt for answering falsely on questionnaires.
In this case, area judges said they respect Buter but sided with Blumke.
"You can't punish someone for an answer unless you can prove it is a deliberate attempt to get out of jury duty," Rockford District Judge Steven Servaas said. "You'd need statements from others who said they heard him, saying he was going to deceive the court. Otherwise, you have to just excuse them and get them out of there as quickly as you can."
Another judge said he fears Buter's sanctions sent the wrong message to the other jurors.
"The whole purpose of questioning jurors is we are trying to find someone who is going to be fair and impartial," Kentwood District Judge William Kelly said. "I fear the message to the rest of the jurors is, 'I'd better lie or face punishment.' Then, you have people who weren't truthful about their prejudices going back to the jury room and they raise cane over their hidden issues."
Holland District Judge Susan Jonas said she has never imposed a sentence on a juror, although she did fine a juror $150 for twice failing to appear for trials. ....
Chief Kent County Circuit Judge George Buth said judges in the higher court also have struggled with what to do about jurors who have "thumbed their noses" at the process.
But, he said, "I cannot recall any juror being given community service, and I cannot ever recall a juror being sanctioned at the time of jury selection." .....
© 2002 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permissionAbove sent by Frank Turney,Alaska JIC, fturney@...
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