Rules only they understand

A Little Perspective column by Pat Kelly, July 14 Boundary Creek Times.

I got a letter from the county—I had been called for jury duty.

When I originally got the summons I hoped that I might get to decide the fate of someone who really deserves to be called to account for what they have done. Someone like Henry Kissinger, or maybe I’d really get lucky and they would bring George W., Cheney and Rumsfeld into the courtroom in shackles to account for all of the death and suffering they have caused in this world.

Paperwork was the first order of business when I reported to the Jury Assembly Room at 8:15 on Monday morning. General questions about who I was, so that the lawyers could get a quick idea of whether they wanted to challenge me or not.

After an orientation, 12 jurors were to be chosen to hear a civil case where a fellow whose car was stolen was suing the insurance company after his claim was denied. I didn’t make the first cut as one of the selected 12 but by the time the judge and lawyers had gotten done with challenges and such, I wound up sitting in the jury box.

The complainant was representing himself. The insurance company had a lawyer to argue the case and a witness who is employed by the company as a special investigator. They also had another lawyer and a private investigator in the courtroom ready to be called as witnesses.

We next went through opening arguments where each side outlined the evidence they would present. The case: a high performance Mustang Cobra had been stolen a couple of years ago and later found stripped of its engine and transmission, but the owner hadn’t been paid by the company. The company claimed that, suspecting fraud, they had investigated and found the complainant could not back up his story to their satisfaction and denied the claim outright.

During his opening, the company lawyer brought up stuff that, in my humble opinion, was unrelated—trying to use credit history and an unrelated felony conviction in the man’s past to show him of poor character. There was also some question about whether the car was registered to the man himself or to a company he was partner in.

The poor complainant was outgunned from the get-go. Representing himself, he was in over his head. When asked to present his evidence, after a poor attempt (with the judge trying twice to help guide him) the poor chap appeared flustered and said his case was simple: his car had been stolen and his claim denied. He then closed his presentation of evidence.

The lawyer for the insurance company asked to make a motion; the jury was hustled out of the room for 10 minutes and when we returned, the judge said he had dismissed the case for insufficient evidence.

The whole experience has left a sour taste in my mouth. I guess the lesson to be learned is to hire a lawyer up front—because you are going to have to play by rules only they understand.

For myself, the next time I get a jury summons and they ask if anyone has a predisposition that would preclude them from reaching an unbiased decision in the case I will tell them that justice seems to be a heck of a good idea and they ought to give it a try sometime. But I see this system as rigged and would rather not be implicated any further.

Take care of someone who loves you ….

 

Just Posted

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Interior Health study offers take-home drug testing kits to spot fentanyl

Interior Health to evaluate safety of at home drug testing kits aimed at reducing fentanyl overdoses

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Most Read