Saturday, August 6, 2011

The benefits of jury duty

Experiencing true grass roots democracy.

Seeing firsthand just how our court system works (or doesn't).

Being charged with contempt of court, taken to the holdover and shackled to a bench.

Betcha didn't see that third one coming. But that's exactly what 19-year old Christian Daniels experienced in Harris County the other day. It seems that Mr. Daniels reported to the new Jury Assembly Room as requested. He was then selected for a panel to hear a misdemeanor case in County Criminal Court at Law No. 14, the Hon. Michael Fields presiding.


He was taken, along with the other 19 panelists, from the Jury Assembly Room to the 11th Floor of the Criminal (In)justice Center. Somewhere along the way the group was separated and Mr. Daniels got lost or confused, or both. He went back to the Jury Assembly Room - and was sent back to Judge Fields' court. When he finally found his way back the defense attorney was already conducting his voir dire.

Judge Fields found Mr. Daniels in contempt for his failure to appear for jury duty and ordered him to the holdover where he was shackled to a bench.

The case against Mr. Daniels was later dismissed thanks to HCCLA member Stephen Touchstone.

According to KHOU-TV, Mr. Daniels learned "the importance of paying attention when called to serve." Either that or he learned just how capricious our criminal (in)justice system can be.

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