It was a DWI case (without any wrecks, injuries or deaths involved) where Travis County was prosecuting the defendant for driving while intoxicated (ed. note: they didn't say anything about not talking about this in blogs, so I figure it's okay until someone develops a blogger law).
The total pool of jurors added up to 18 people. The count was weighted heavily on the male side. I counted only five women, including myself. I was of course seated next to a strange Irishman who looked like Mr. Burns, but with a heavy accent that made him sound like Seamus Heaney. He also had a giant umbrella that was as long as my leg which kept falling over and hitting me in the knee cap.
They started questioning us regarding our knowledge of DWIs. I was unaware that in Texas, the law has two parts. You can get a DWI for:
- Having a BAC higher than .08 (which everyone knows)
OR (emphasis on the "or")
- Appearing to the police officer to not have your physical or mental faculties.
This seems incredibly subjective at first but when you consider the fact that you are allowed to decline the breathalyzer (or as the defense attorney called it, repeatedly, and with no objection from the prosecution, the "intoxilyzer"), it makes sense that the officer has to have some sort of recourse for detaining you if you choose not to take the field sobriety tests and breath/blood test.
What was really the most staggering was the statistics that our little focus group created. Out of the eighteen people there, five people raised their hands when asked if they'd ever been pulled over for driving while intoxicated. All five had been arrested and most of them had gone to jail. One was a repeat offender.
Even more disturbing, and what probably lost me a seat on the jury, was when they asked if anyone had ever had a friend or family member directly affected by a drunk driver in an accident, resulting in injury or death. Hands flew up, including mine. I tried to count the hands and I got to about 8 people when the defense had us put our hands down. He had each of us state what the accident had been. Almost all of the cases were immediate family members who died as a result of drinking and driving. I briefly recapped the story of DD getting hit by the drunk driver and knew my chances of getting on the jury were gone.
To say the least, there are a lot of drunks out there. But I was unaware there was such an overwhelming amount of drunks who decide to also operate a motor vehicle and then smash it into a wall, or into a person as it were.
If anyone ever needs Shah's number, you know how to get a hold of me. Everyone knows I'm no mathematician but it seems the $25 I spend having Shah cart me around is a heck of a lot less than what the snowy-haired criminal defense lawyer charges by the hour.