Monday, October 5, 2009

Thinking inside the box

The Globe has a story today about the state cracking down on people who skip out on jury duty. Massachusetts apparently follows through on issuing summonses for people who don't show and then warrants for those who ignore a summons. The state seems to have a relatively low rate or juror delinquency: 6.4%.

As opposed to most of the people I've ever spoken with, I like jury duty. I've been called three times and served twice. The first was a handgun possession case; the second, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. It may surprise some to know that I voted "guilty" in both of those cases (and both defendants were found guilty).

The third time I was called I just missed getting on a jury because I knew both the victim and the defendant. They were from East Boston, and one can connect the dots if I reveal that the case involved a girl I knew from the Boys & Girls Club, where I worked for many years, and her stepfather.

I find jury duty interesting, and I've also felt reassured to see how serious everyone who served with me approached the task at hand. I hope to be called again soon.


N.starluna said...

I have been called to jury duty 4 times in my adult life. Once when I was a pre-med student and was able to get a waiver because it would interrupt my studies. That was CA and they don't do that anymore. Two other times I received a summons right as I was moving out of state.

The last time I was summoned, I was called up to be interviewed by the attorneys and the judge. I was asked what I did and told them that I teach political sociology and socio-legal studies. That particular semester I was teaching a seminar on social justice and crime. The case was a murder involving two black defendants. The ADA did not want me but the defense did. Eventually they filled the panel without me.

I would like to serve but I suspect that I will never be called to be on jury for criminal cases because of my work.

Anonymous said...

just curious,but why did you drop out of med school to teach sociology? thats kind of a 180 degree turn.

N.starluna said...

I decided to go into public health rather than medicine because I was more interested in population health and policy. I ended up in sociology largely because my professional experience and degree in legal and social policy makes me attractive to sociology departments who want people can bring an applied view to students.

Anonymous said...

So something happened in between then? You switched from medicine to law,then to sociology? Did you apply to a law school?I am not asking to be annoying really,I always find it interesting how one so often changes a major in college for example. They get to a certain age, or gain experience somewhere, and then decide to change course.Any regrets?

N.starluna said...

I have absolutely no regrets over my life choices. I live a fabulous life. You're right though about the role that age and life experience played. I had to work to put myself through college, which meant that it was slow going in the beginning. When you work and have a family, you can only take so many classes. Biology departments have a tendency to schedule their classes in the morning, which made it difficult given my job as administrator in a health facility. Halfway through my pre-med program I realized that I would be in my 30s when I started my residency. Because I was an administrator in a public health care facility and worked with the residents who did their community rotations in our clinic, I knew that I would be working 80-100 hour weeks. I didn't like medicine enough to want to do that. Also, because I was an administrator in a clinic, I saw the importance of policy and programming on how healthy (or not) a community could be. I did not go to law school because I didn't want to be a lawyer. I wanted to study and work in policy. So my doctoral work is in legal and social policy. I personally see myself as a cross-disciplinary social scientist. But my academic network has tended towards sociology. I have also taught in political science departments. But the sociologists have offered me more work, at least as of late.

Anonymous said...

To N. Starluna, I can't imagine you teaching my children. I would pull them from your classes. In my opinion who seem to push your own idealogies unto others and I would protect my children from that.
I know that your a social liberal because you have made mention of that for over a year now and you seem to get really upset when someone calls you out. Good luck to you and God forbid if your still a teacher

N.starluna said...

Anonymous (10/11 @ 10:19) - I think you reveal more about your own teaching philosophy in that statement than I've ever discussed on this blog.

Any adult whose parents dictate the college courses they take is probably not going to do well in my courses regardless of their political orientation. But let me reassure that I have passed and failed students who hold a variety of political and moral perspectives. The development of a more complex and nuanced political worldview is a well known by-product of a college education; even the conservatives come out seeing the world in shades of gray.

But, if you were actually curious, I'd be happy to teach any of my courses to members of the East Boston community if you could pull together a class of 8-10 students. You'd be surprise how much you might learn when you turn off the TV and read something besides the Herald or the Globe.

Mary said...

Sign me up for that course, Jim.

Anonymous said...

I read this blog often,and dont agree with Nstarluna on many issues,but I dont belive her opinions on civic matters reflect her ability to teach.
The diversity of opinion is what attracts me to this blog,and she has weighed in on some important issues.We can agree to disagree but lets all try and keep it devoid of hateful remarks.BTW--did you guys at the Times catch that last sentence??