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Jury Duty, day 2

Thursday, May 29, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named justice.gifI have another day of jury duty. I haven't been selected, but the voir dire is going into a second day because we started so late yesterday. I am not allowed to talk about the specifics of the case as long as I might potentially be a juror, however I can say that I think it's not likely that I will be selected. And I can say is that it is, again, an inspiring process. A few comments follow. Permalink to this paragraph

Until I moved to the East Bay in 2006, I had never ridden on BART. It doesn't go down the peninsula to where I used to live, but it's a fixture of life on this side of the bay and in San Francisco. I like riding BART not only because it's usually faster than driving, but also because I get to see my fellow citizens without their cars. It's fascinating to see who my neighbors are. In NY and Boston, where public transit is much more a part of daily life, you get that experience all the time. Not so much on the west coast. Permalink to this paragraph

Well, jury duty is like riding BART, only more so. It's as if you were riding on BART, but each passenger, in turn, tells you what they do for a living, who they live with, where they came from, in some cases why they can't serve (always dramatic). What the judge says about jury duty is true, it's what makes America work. There are no professional jurors, just BART people. You just have to be registered to vote or have a driver's license for them to find you. Permalink to this paragraph

Which leads to a curious inexplicable fact. First, judging from the jury, the Bay Area is a remarkably diverse place. But if you went by the jury alone, you'd conclude that there are no blacks in Alameda County. The only black person of the 100 or so potential jurors was an African immigrant. However, if you go outside the courthouse in downtown Oakland, or ride BART, you'd see that there are lots of blacks. What happened? Maybe they don't vote or drive? I honestly don't know. It seems very improbable that a random drawing would be so skewed. Permalink to this paragraph

I was riveted listening to the stories people told. It was fascinating. I also had opinions of the lawyers, and the parties. But I can't talk about that yet. What I can say and will is that I was struck by the nobility of my fellow citizens. When asked to serve, they all rise to the occasion. People who doubt that there is cause for hope should sign up for jury duty and go through the process. It is something to behold. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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