Comments: 3rd Judicial District



To: Richard B. M.
Commisioner of Jurors

From Chester T.

Re: Jury Duty

I was recently summoned for jury duty on September 13th. Unfortunately, my number did not come up, and I did not have an opportunity to serve. However, I would like to compliment you and your staff on, what I consider, a very pleasant experience.

Initially, I was called for Grand Jury. Unable to attend because of travel plans, a short call and pleasant response from one of your staff got me reassigned to Trial at a more convient date.

The printed instructions I subsequently received were consise, informative and helpful.

The initial meeting of the jury pool on Monday morning was extremely well conducted. It was obvious at the outset that there were many who were less that happy at being called. However, your well delivered remarks were excellent and set the proper tone for a courtroom and the job at hand. It is difficult to deliver at set speech repeatedly (as you must do) with conviction and enthusiasm - yet you did this extremely well. The atmosphere following your remarks was markedly different - all of us were seriour and respectful of our duties as prospective jurors.

My congratulations to you and your staff ! You may well be proud of your performance as public servants in such extremely important positions.

 



Juried Rite Of Of Passage
Our Intrepid Intern Reporter Gets Pulled
Into The Trbe Depths Of Civil Duty ...
By Eric H

It hadn't been ten months since I registered to vote in Ulster County when I was pegged with a summons for jury duty. At age 19, I had frankly expected that my name would kick around the pool of eligible citizens for at least a few years before I was selected for this particular duty. Nonetheless, there was the summons; loudly exclaiming "'Wetcome to jury service in Ulster County! " as if the letter would inspire enthusiasm in its recipients.

Actually, in my case it did inspire some feelings. Like dread, and the desire to be unavailable for "the term of service." A term of service consists of "one trial or one week."

Regardless of, my reservations, I called in to find out when I had been called to appear and went to the Ulster County court house on the specified date to perform my honorable civil duty.

Some 200 potential jurors were seated in a courtroom, being processed in a classroom style roll call. To say that some of the juror group held disgruntled dispositions would be an understatment. Everyone had a generally displeased appearance, ranging from "resigned to hours of inescapable boedom" to "hostile and looking for an object of blame". I was almost certainly the youngest person in the group, and certainly the youngestin appearance. A few minutes late, I took a seat between a man who was clearly running on a short fuse, and an older woman who appeared prepared for a state of deep sleep just a few minutes into the process.

After the clerk had finished attendance, Commissioner of Jurors Richard M. addressed the group, explaining the process and fielding questions. After patiently answering a few combative, pointed questions from the more belligerent jurors, he split US up for the trials we could be potentially seated for.

It had barely been 20 minutes before we were informed that our trial had settled and that we were dismissed. We were thanked, and assured that it'was our presence that had caused the settlement. It was fairly painless, compared to what most people seemed to be gearing up for.

Still, even after appeanng once, each juror is, required to call in each night of the week they serve to find out if they are to appear the next day.

Of course, once wasnt enough. I was called back three days later, and three days later I was sitting among the same group, albeit a slightly angrier and more impatient group. This day, one tardy gentleman was asked for his juror number, which he confidehtlyproclaimed to be 210.

"We called up to 200. said the clerk. "I'm number 210... ohhhhhh. That's bad, " said the man, clearly embarrassed.

The discourse was met by a wave of laughter from the juror group, who seemed cruelly amused. After all, the next worse thing to showing up for jury duty when you have to is showing up for jury duty when you don 't have to.

To his relief, he was informed he could stay and would receive credit for his service.

Within ten minutes of roll call, we were informed that we were supposed to be seated for a criminal case. This plan was facing one minor roadblock: the plaintiff was on the run. Apparently, to the bewilderment of his attorney, and everyone else, the plaintiff had neglected to show up and now was presumably in hiding. The judge had issued a bench warrant for the, plaintiff, meaning the police were to search for him. This meant we were done for the day.

This time, we were done for good.

Now it will be another four years before I'm eligible for sevice again, without ever having been interviwed for a jury. Pretty easy this time around.

Getting called for jury duty is surely an inconvenience. People have jobs, and children to take care of, and their time is valuable to them. This time seems to creep by at a crawl even for short stints at the courthouse. The unhappiness at getting called for jury duty is tempered by the patience and understanding of people in charge of the jury process, who no doubt routinely face the rancor of belligerent unwilling participants.

I was truly impressed by the juror staff and Commissioner M. We were treated like the only jury pool to serve for the court, though clearly the same speech is recited to a new jury every week, and the same questions fielded. They consistently went to lengths to assure us the importance of our participation.

As Commissioner M. puts it on the letter accompanying the summons, "Your participation in the jury process is crucial as it helps to insure the individual rights of everyone in the community. "

 

After all, if I were wrongfully tried for a crime, I would want a jury of reasonable people to help acquit me. Wouldn't you?



Ms Eileen M.
Surrogate's Office
A lbany County Courthouse
Albany, NY 12207

Dear Eillen,

I do so appreciate your kindness when I visited your office last week. So often one is not treated well in public offices, so it is very refreshing when one is. I know, since I worked for the County of Montgomery for 23 years, and some of our clerks were unpleasent.

I found out that the wills that used to be housed in Queen's College in Flushing, Long Island, for the County of Albany, are now in the New York State Library. The ones I saw were similar to your will index and not any earlier. The other earlier wills for Albany County I was told are in the NEW YORK STATE ARCHIVES.. . the 3d floor, but the genealogist who told me this did not know what time period they covered. I will check this the next time I go there and get back to you.

I apologize for not being there for the record I had asked you to retrieve. and this is where ublic servants have every right to be annoyed with the public!! I just had to get back to Fonda for a birthday party for my grandson. So little time, it seems!! I will check that out if I can ever get there that time in the afternoon. Usually, my husband naps and he always comes with me. I shall see!!

Thank you so very much for all of your help. You are surely a great asset to your department.

Very sincerely,

Violet D., Montgomery County Historian


 

Richard B. M.
Commissioner of Jurors
287 Wall Street
Kingston, NY 12401-3817

Commissioner M.,

I would think sir if you were selling the service that you would have many satisfied repeat customers. That is I found that you and your staff did your job very well and Ulster Conty should be very proud of the way that you and your staff conduct business which is done in a very professional manner showing respect for the manypeople that are called to serve. I found the way that your personally deal with the ctizens who serve to be what the citizen should expect from public servants and that is just to be treated as fellow human beings. so again if this newspaper was rating the service performed with the other county againcies that I have dealt with on a five star basis being top you and your staff are now officially rated be The Ellenville Press as a five star Ulster County Agency and should be proud of what you do which I am sure is more often as not very frustrating but one of the most important services this county performs.

Justice in this county to some is as bad a joke as politics and the fortunate fact is they both are two of the most important aspects of this great country. Without a peaceful turn over of our leadership in this country to another elected officials by the people we would be no better of than most third world nations and without our justice system again we could be no better than those in the prior justice system of Afghanistan. Nothing in this great country is perfect the only saving grace is we keep trying to do what is right and you are part of the process as those who are called to serve.

This editorial was one of the longest that this paper ever published but we felt it was important to get what we felt out. I hope that I have represented your office and the job that is done by you folks correctly as possible. I wish you and all your staff a very happy holiday and healthy New Year. I will pray that your mission becomes easier as time moves on in that the citizens of this contry will take the responsibilities of citizenship and the duties such as voting and jury duty with a renewed fervor.

Respectfully,

Michael J
Publisher




Mr. Richard M.
Commissioner of Jurors
285 Wall Street
Kingston, NY 12401

Dear Mr. M.:

I was summoned for jury duty on Monday, November 26. I arrived at the courthouse with a bit of trepidation. I had never in my life been in a courtroom!

You introduced yourself to us and spoke about what would take place and gave us a little history on how we are selected for jury duty. I have never known anything about the system - you educated me that day. You introduced us to your staff and roll call was taken. They were very professional, patient had helpful.

Over the course of that Monday and Tuesday I was in the 'audience' for a civil case - my name was not called and then on to a criminal case - again my name was not called. During those two days and the "waiting periods" you and your staff always kept us informed. We always knew what was happening.

I was enthralled by the whole process. I am proud of our judicial system and am thankful that you and your staff are dedicated to the job you must do. Thank you!

I wish you and your staff a happy and healthy holiday season.

Sincerely your,

Kathleen J