All California residents over 18 with U.S. citizenship are eligible for jury duty.

People who receive a summons for jury duty sometimes ignore it. Or, people may change their address – who are poor, homeless, or have big problems of their own and not receive a jury summons. Sometimes, a jury summons is the least of their worries, such as being a single parent and holding down a job.

But as disrupting as it may seem to our daily lives, it is a crucial part of the court process. Unfortunately, the frustration that people feel could translate into a bias against one side or the other.

Another issue that can happen is that those citizens who do respond to their summons and ultimately end up on a jury are not always “in touch” with the problems of the people who end up on trial.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is known for – and proud of – its reputation for being very aggressive in criminal prosecutions. After all, people do not want to live in a world full of crime. Most jurors view the DA prosecuting the case as the guardian of their safety. Those same jurors tend to think of the defense attorney as a necessary evil at best. After all, it would be a bad member of society who thinks that people who steal, rape, and rob people are just fine and ought to go unpunished.

When placed in the setting of a jury trial, the average citizen tends to look to the prosecutor as the protector of their rights. This usually translates into a pro-prosecution bias, and makes it hard for someone who is falsely accused to get a fair trial.

Next time, we’ll look at the importance of jury selection for someone that has been falsely accused of a crime in Santa Clara County.

If you or someone you know is accused of a crime, arrested, or contacted by police, contact San Jose criminal defense attorney Maureen Baldwin at (408) 279-4450 to learn your options today!