Saturday, February 3, 2018

Dungeons, Dragons and the One Day Trial

As I mentioned on Thursday, I had jury duty this week. Thursday I got picked for a Civil Trial Jury, despite being a retired cop and listing under hobbies: write role-playing games. Go figure.

In any case, we were sworn in on Thursday for a trial that was to start (and possibly conclude) on Friday. Friday morning came and we got off to a late start. We reported at 930 and didn't get called into the courtroom until 1030. Then we couldn't start because the lawyers needed water. Then a bigger oops - both the complainant and the defendant were Bangladeshi and the court translator was late. For a summary trial, one that is supposed to be expedited, we were not off to a great start.

Opening statements. Complainant's initial doctor for the injuries from the accident is no longer licensed to practice medicine. The surgeon has his license suspended. And this is from the complainant's lawyer. Defense attorney's first name is Lord Chester. I kid you not. I was already thinking that I need to use that name in an adventure.

Both the complainant and the defendant make for horrible witnesses. Due to the language barrier, it was apparent that neither was prepped by their law firms for trial.

Who referred you to your doctor? A friend. What's your doctor' name? I don't know, its in the paperwork. Didn't you see the same doctor for two prior accidents? I don't know. Isn't your testimony different now than in 2015? My eyes are better now. I see better, clearer. My eyes are in my mind...

The defendant wasn't much better, only coming out of her shell to explain how she inched her car up at the intersection only 5 or 6 inches at a time.

I told my fellow jurors we had two bags of shit.

Before we knew it, it was shortly after 4 pm, we had two huge packets of evidence, and only 20 minutes to reach a verdict before being sent home for the weekend and returning Monday.

We returned to the Jury Room and start discussing. He's full of shit, she's full of shit. We have a packet of questions to answer and no ones taken a look at them. I grab them, as reading and understanding rules is the specialty of gamers.

"There's no way in hell I'm giving this guy a cent, he's full of shit!"

"How about we look at the questions given to us? Depending on how we answer the questions, we may not need to answer later ones."


"Questions are answered in order, and then we can see where we are at. Times a ticking, and I'd like to not be here on Monday, agreed?" Heads nod.

"Alright, question one. Do we find the defendant to have been negligent in her actions?"

"He hit her, he's at fault!"

"Not the question. She had the stop sign. The complainant didn't. As the law was explained to us by the judge, she had the responsibility to ensure she entered the intersection safely. We need to answer the questions as we were instructed to." I wanted to add "no houserules, we're going By The Book" but they wouldn't have understood the reference.

"Alright, listen, question 2 is: Was the defendant's negligence a significant contributing factor in the incident? I'd say no."

"What does that mean?"

"It means she was negligent but he was much more so. It means we answer no further questions. Nothing about awarding damages. I feel the plaintiff was lying throughout most of his testimony, so I will take the defendant's word on what happened. Besides, looking at the accident report, he never even attempted to avoid the collision."

"We're done?"

"So long as you all signed off on the 2 questions: Yes to the first one and No to the second one." And then we were.

In the end, game training kicked in. Read the rules. Follow the rules. Given a puzzle, take it step by step. Don't let the rules play you but make the rules work for you. Well, that and we apparently needed a caller, so I stepped in ;)

Six years before I'm called again...


  1. It's funny, I find myself doing the same thing when I'm auditing. Being trained for 40 years to read, understand, and follow rules is a very valuable skill set when performing SOX IT audits. :-)

  2. 6 years? I should move to your state. We get 2 years if empaneled and 1 if not... ;)
    So, you have retired twice??? And you get to do you hobby for Beer Money.

    1. Heh. Just once. I'll retire from gaming when they rip the dice out of my dead hands ;)

  3. Lol. I was waiting to see how this went for you and to hear that you finished.

    I'm not only a fan of the OSR, I'm a NYS Court Officer, though I don't work in the courthouse you went to (would have been cool to give you some kind of 'Hail Hydra' type sign as you left...).

    I've always wanted to be on a Jury but can't seem to get past Voit Dire (that part where they asked you biographical stuff and such):

    "What do you do for a living, Mister Fitz-Hume?"

    "I'm a Court Officer."


    Been called twice, happened both times. I'd LOVE to get on a Grand Jury. Those are very interesting. While most people really, really don't like Jury Duty, most that serve on a Grand Jury enjoy it quite a bit.

  4. A trial by jury for a car crash ? Only in America...

    1. In New York state the injured party is allowed to decide if they want their case decided by a jury (civil and malpractice fall into this catergory). In my experience when the case is full of shit they always go for the jury instead of arbitrator or judge because they hope people are idiots (which they are). Looking at the abridged conversation listed above its spot on that people still don't pay attention, follow rules or understand what they are doing.
      It works because as a juror you are instructed you can only make a decisions about the case off the facts that are presented so the real questions you want to know might never be asked. Also during questioning a witness can only answer yes, no or i don't know when being cross examined so you never get the full answer because they can just avoid the question. its really frustrating being a juror in a case where there is a bullshit case because common sense tells you what the answer should be but your not allowed to decide if the questions or facts were never brought up in court.

  5. Grand Jury was interesting, but you are there for a month. We went 2 days a week, and that is hard on the paycheck. But it was interesting seeing how the sausage was made. Pro tip, if you are female and accused make sure you cry when you are in front of the Grand Jury, almost a get out of jail free card.

  6. Reminds me of the question sheets kids get at the beginning of the year. The worksheet has 100 problems. Problem one is always read all the problems. The last one is always put your name on this paper and your are done it. Never fails that a majority of the kids are working through all the questions/problems because they didn't bother reading them all. Reading the directions and following them is so important.


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