A month before my wedding I was summoned for jury duty. The date? September 23, during my honeymoon. How romantic. I asked to be excused and thus my request was granted and rescheduled for today.
So here I sit, in a courthouse cafeteria in Pinellas County, Florida, having just fielded 400 questions from a state attorney and defense attorney regarding a dude who drank too much, DROVE, got pulled over, refused a breathalyzer test, failed a field sobriety test and was charged with a DUI. I tried to be impartial, but apparently something I said rubbed the defense attorney the wrong way.
Now you tell me if you think this question is LOADED and DUMB.
The defense attorney: “Ms. Kurpiela, let’s say at the end of the day you find my client not guilty, but in your heart of hearts you thought he was guilty. How would you feel about that?”
Me: “Can you please repeat the question?”
The defense attorney: “OK. In your heart of hearts you think my client is guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol, but because the state attorney’s office was unable to prove its case you must find him not guilty. How do you feel about that?”
Me: “How do I feel about that? Honestly the question is rigged. If in my heart of hearts I think your client is guilty then the state attorney’s office has done its job and I’ll find him guilty. If I feel in my heart of hearts that your client is not guilty, then I’ll find him NOT GUILTY. I’m a blank slate right now, but at the end of the day I won’t be conflicted. If we don’t make decisions based on what our heart of HEARTS is telling us, then how else do we decide?”
My fellow juror candidates started mumbling. The two state attorneys smirked. The defense attorney, clearly flummoxed, turned to face the judge, who offered nothing but a shrug. His client? The guy on trial? His face turned red.
The defense attorney: “Thank you, Ms. Kurpiela.”
And then we broke for a 15-minute recess and when we returned to the courtroom I was dismissed.