Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » January 2005 » Jury pool from Hell

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01/19/2005: Jury pool from Hell

Prominent Memphis attorney Leslie Ballin wasn't defending Jabez Stone, but he has encountered the jury pool from Hell.

Right after jury selection began last week, one man got up and left, announcing, "I'm on morphine and I'm higher than a kite."

When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted of a crime, a prospective juror said that he had been arrested and taken to a mental hospital after he almost shot his nephew. He said he was provoked because his nephew just would not come out from under the bed.

Another would-be juror said he had had alcohol problems and was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. "I should have known something was up," he said. "She had all her teeth."

Another prospect volunteered he probably should not be on the jury: "In my neighborhood, everyone knows that if you get Mr. Ballin (as your lawyer), you're probably guilty." He was not chosen.

Disclaimer: Dark Bilious Vapors does not agree with the last prospective juror. Mr. Ballin's clients, like all criminal defendants, are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Alex Knapp.)

Brock on 01.19.05 @ 08:12 PM CST


Replies: 4 comments

on Wednesday, January 19th, 2005 at 8:37 PM CST, Len Cleavelin said

Added Disclaimer: Having himself practiced criminal defense law during his late and extraordinarily unlamented legal career, the senior member of the crew here at DBV most certainly joins in the disclaimer.

on Thursday, January 20th, 2005 at 8:36 PM CST, roboto said

I disagree. A jury full of ex-cons would be the best possible jury from the defense perspective.

If they were all suburban housewives who were clutching onto their purses with white knuckles, then you'd cut a deal.

I clerked a summer at the Shelby DA, and I recall jury selection was a big deal on both sides.

on Friday, January 21st, 2005 at 7:09 AM CST, Len Cleavelin said

I'm not quite sure what you disagree with. The disclaimers are, of course, a ritual recital of the presumption of innocence. Realistically, IIRC, a majority of the venire in any given trial that I handled were probably of the opinion of that last juror (i.e., nothing says "guilty" like a high-priced, high profile criminal defense lawyer). In fact, I'd be willing to bet that for any given venire, a majority of the veniremen are of the opinion that nothing says "guilty" like being found sitting next to defense counsel at the defense table.

Jury selection is a pretty big deal on both sides; I'm pretty convinced that this emphasis is somewhat misplaced (i.e., yes, jury selection is important but not as much as everyone seems to think), but I've never quite figured out for myself how much. And now, of course, it's pretty much a moot issue for me.

on Friday, January 21st, 2005 at 12:05 PM CST, Roboto said

In my experience, it was all about race. Which was stupid and far too simplisitic. I thought all the DAs and the criminal defense attorneys were constantly searching for reasons to settle cases anyway.

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