Crockett and I were hanging out with Dreux the other day and he told us all about his experience with jury duty here in Travis county. We were surprised that he was picked for the case at all, being a logical engineer and all, but he was. His reward was sitting and listening to 5 days of civil trial.
The lawsuit came from what is no doubt an upsetting tale, but in my opinion, was frivilous all the same. Essentially, an F-550 work truck was making a left turn at a stop light (crossing a highway in his turning lane). Mind you, he was actually the second car waiting for the green left arrow. As the arrow turned green (thus giving him the right of way), the car in front of him went through the intersection and he proceeded to so the same. Perpindicular to his car and coming from the left at about 55 MPH or so was another car. The driver ran the red light and the right side of her car smashed into the large grill bumper of the F-550 severely injuring her passenger and backseat daughter in a carseat. So much in fact, that life-flight was needed at the scene.
The woman's daughter suffered severe head trauma and will apparently never be the same again. To a lesser extent, this was apparently also true of the passenger. Oddly enough, the lawsuit actually came from the injured child's father, and from the mother of the passenger. They (the plaintiffs) were seeking a claim of negligence on behalf of the F-550 turning left claiming that he has a responsibility to ensure no cars are coming (even if he has the right of way). For that, they attempted to justify he was 20% at fault and were seeking to award $10,000,000 in damages (which results in $2,000,000 after factoring his negligent part).
Long story short, Dreux and the 11 other members of the jury found in favor of the defendant and therefore awarded no damages to the plaintiff. It seems that one of the largest points made was that by the time she ran the light, all lights had been red for two seconds, the defendant's light had been green for 8 seconds, and the woman driver's light had been red for 10 seconds! Not to mention, her light had been yellow for 6 seconds prior to it turning red.
How One is Selected for Jury Duty
There was some confusion amongst us trying to decide how one is selected for jury duty. It seems that some of us believe it comes from registering to vote, others believe it's merely having a license. It seems to vary from state to state and possibly county to county, but here are the rules for Travis County.
The jury wheel, which is the list of potential jurors, comes from three lists:
* all registered voters in Travis County
* all registered voters from neighboring counties that reside within Austin city limits
* all persons in Travis County with either a Texas driver's license or a Department of Public Safety identification card
Each year, the Voter lists and DPS lists are merged by matching the names as best as is possible to minimize duplications. The merged list is given to the Travis County district clerk. The district clerk, county clerk, and sheriff then meet to 'reconstitute' the jury wheel by replacing the old list with the new one. Jury summonses are sent from the jury wheel on a random basis.
About 120,000 to 150,000 summonses are sent each year.
To read more about this, visit http://www.co.travis.tx.us/district_clerk/jury/A1.asp.