troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Jury Duty
"Sitting downtown, in air-conditioning, judging people all day, with your lunches paid for? That's the life..."
Stanley Hudson, The Office (US)

Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A given episode or story arc that involves one of the characters facing jury duty.

He may either look for ways to wriggle out of it, or do the civic thing and attend the trial. Or both, of course. If, in the course of the deliberation, he actually goes against consensus opinion on what the verdict should be, he may become a Rogue Juror. If played for comedy, the character may learn about jury sequestration and try to milk as much out of it by prolonging the jury deliberations. (In reality, jurors are rarely sequestered in hotels and when they are, they're usually the cheapest around. Government money and all that.)

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Comics 
  • One of the American Splendor stories is about Harvey getting called in to jury duty. He gets out by just explaining his views about the criminal justice system, and how it would make him a terrible juror.
  • One time Bruce Wayne tried to get out of jury duty by claiming he was Batman. The judge didn't buy it for a second.
  • One story in The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist sees the Escapist (or rather his civilian identity Tom Mayflower) happily go in for jury duty because he sees it as another aspect of "crime fighting." He had a conflict of interest (having discovered the crime scene and turned the defendant into the police), but couldn't raise a complaint to that effect without giving his identity away. He tried to give the worst possible answers during the selection process only to be approved anyway. He ended up uncovering a conspiracy, perpetrated by the evil Iron Chain organization, to get the actually-innocent defendant put away.

    Film 
  • The Pauly Shore film Jury Duty - the foreman wanted it to go on as long as possible because he made a deal with the hotel staff to get a luxurious room, while the other jurors had to deal with lower-quality rooms, and in the meantime found the defendant was really innocent.
  • Nicely subverted in Runaway Jury. The protagonist uses Obfuscating Stupidity and gives the judge all these trivial excuses not to serve as part of a Batman Gambit to make sure he is selected.
    "It was like poetry. The judge threatened to hang me."
  • Subverted in Ernest Goes To Jail: Ernest is happy to find he's been called in for jury duty. Unfortunately for him, the defendant happens to be a henchman for imprisoned crime lord Felix Nash — who Ernest is a dead ringer for — and helps his boss hatch a plot to switch places with Ernest.
  • The most obvious example, 12 Angry Men, about the deliberations of a jury given a murder case.
  • The jury duty is never actually shown, but in The Grinch the eponymous character is shown stuffing the PO boxes of various residents of Whoville with traditionally unwanted bits of mail, including junk mail, jury duty notices, chain letters, and eviction notices.

    Jokes 
  • An old one in the US: "In America you have the right to be tried by twelve people who couldn't get out of jury duty."

    Literature 
  • The children's book Trial by Journal. Thanks to a new state law, the twelve-year-old protagonist ends up serving on a jury for a murder trial. It turns out that the supposed murder victim isn't dead, the defendant was framed, and one of the jurors is colluding with the real villain.

    Live Action TV 
  • A flashback episode of The Odd Couple featured future roommates Oscar and Felix meeting as fellow jurors in a parody of 12 Angry Men with Felix in the Fonda role. Interestingly Jack Klugman (Oscar) played one of Fonda's fellow "Angry Men" in the original movie (Jack Lemmon, who played Felix in the 1967 film version, went on to play the rogue in the 1997 12 Angry Men remake, in a further weird bit of synchronicity).
  • An episode of The Burns And Allen Show features neighbor Blanche being called, with her husband Harry overjoyed at the free time he'll be getting while she's gone.
  • Happened to Edith in All in the Family.
  • Happens in an episode of Early Edition. Complicated by the fact that Gary kept trying to sneak out to prevent the tragedies in tomorrow's paper.
  • The Monk episode "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty."
  • Was used as social commentary on Becker. Becker mentions to his assistant Linda that he always gets out of jury duty by explaining that he's a doctor and needs to be on call 24/7. Linda then complains to the government that her boss always manages to weasel out of jury duty, in a letter written on Becker's stationary. So both of them end up in jury duty. While the ditzy Linda manages to end up on several juries, Becker is repeatedly excluded because he's openly intelligent. His constant rejection leads to him getting so angry that he goes into a rant about how crap the criminal justice system is in America.
  • In an episode of Murder, She Wrote, Jessica gets on a jury... and pulls a Perry Mason (freeing the accused by finding the real killer... who is also in the courtroom!)
  • On one episode of Crossing Jordan, Jordan ends up in jury duty. She is the only juror who believes that the accused is innocent (due to her forensic experience) and ends up convincing the rest of the jury.
  • Leverage: Parker (or rather, one of Parker's cover identities) gets called to jury duty and stumbles upon a plot by another group to mess with the proceedings.
  • Newhart had Dick on jury duty, trying to get out in time to go to a basketball game.
  • Ben was called up for this on one episode of My Family. It somehow manages to be worse than his naturally cynical outlook led him to predict it would be, due to a Lawful Stupid fellow juror named Joanna Elton Johns.
  • Mac gets called up for jury duty on a murder case in the MacGyver episode "Rush to Judgement" and, naturally, can't resist investigating the case on his own - which is illegal.
  • Liz Lemon of 30 Rock gets called for jury duty in Chicago and has to fly back to participate (she wanted to keep voting in a swing state, instead of New York). But she has an ironclad method of getting excused: An old Princess Leia costume.
    Liz: I don't think it's fair for me to be on a jury, since I can read minds.
    • She tries this same trick in New York, and it fails spectacularly. It's not nearly weird enough.
  • Veronica Mars is pretty upset that she has jury duty during her Christmas break. Once she's there though, a Rogue Juror votes guilty while Veronica and the rest want to acquit (inverting the usual formula. Veronica and the rest then sides with the rogue, thanks to Veronica's detective skills revealing the defendant's guilt in the episode "One Angry Veronica".
  • Donna Moss was once tapped for Jury Duty in an episode of The West Wing. She spent most of the episode looking for ways to weasel out of it. At the end, Josh tells her that if she does weasel out of it, she loses all rights to complain about the O.J. verdict.
  • Arthur gets called up for jury duty on an episode of Minder and ends up trying to emulate Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men with mixed results.
  • Lois does jury duty in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle and ends up driving her fellow jurors nuts. She also projects the behavior of Francis onto the defendant and only realizes she's been botching deliberations at the end. Hal assumes she's involved in a recent murder case, and starts arguing the facts of the case with Abe, which leads to them physically acting out a hypothetical "murder".
  • The Dead Zone has an episode where Johnny Smith is on a jury and uses his powers to figure out the truth behind the crime. He then has to convince the others in the jury of this. He also must use the evidence and not his powers to do this.
    • Worth noting that his initial vote for not guilty is not because his powers reveal the truth to him (they do later, once he examines the evidence). Rather, it's because he has a vision of the accused being murdered in prison, and he wants to be sure there's no reasonable doubt.
  • Rob has do do this in The Dick Van Dyke Show.
  • Designing Women Julia Sugarbaker's extended, sequestered jury duty causes her to miss dining with Jimmy Carter.
  • On Charmed, Phoebe served on a jury and had a premonition telling her that the defendant was innocent. The episode consists of her trying to keep the jury from convicting while her sisters hunted down the real killer (the fact that she could keep deliberations going indefinitely by just refusing to vote to convict apparently doesn't occur to her). However the jury were on the verge of declaring a hung jury when Phoebe indicated she wouldn't vote to convict, then when she starts talking about magic the other jurors threatened to simply tell the judge she was insane so they could call in an alternate juror rather than declare a hung jury.
  • On The Office, Toby mentions having served on the jury for the Scranton Strangler (later admitting that they may have convicted the wrong guy), and in a later episode Jim returns from a two-week jury duty break (which he later admits to milking for a break from work after being sent home on the first day).
  • Subverted on That Girl, Marlo Thomas is on a jury and turns everyone around and gets the defendant acquited. Her proof was the guy was right handed, but accused of hitting his wife on the right side of her face. A right handed man, she said, would hit someone on the left side of her face. After the acquittal the defendent and his wife get into a screaming match and he picks up an ashtray and hits her backhanded to the right side of her face, showing he really did do it.
  • JAG:
    • Bud Roberts in "Odd Man Out" (season 7), despite being friends and coworkers with both Government lawyer Mac and Defense Consul Rabb. He ends up pointing out the reasonable doubt to the other jurors. Turns out the guy was actually guilty. Even Harm wanted him put away.
    • Jennifer Coates in "The Sixth Juror" (season 10) because they had exhausted all other possible people for said duty at the small base where the trial was held. She ends up showing that one other juror was actually having an improper relationship with a witness in the case.
  • Jez of Peep Show is called to jury service and gets to chatting to the defendant in the court canteen. They start having an affair, and he learns that while she didn't do what she's accused of this time, she has done it several times before. He convinces the other jurors to convict her partly for this, and partly because she scares him and he doesn't want to have to dump her. (It's something of an inversion of 12 Angry Men, since before he met her he was convinced she was innocent not from any evidence, but just his general contrariness and anti-establishment sentiment.)
  • A sequestered juror on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation dropped dead during the deliberation phase of a trial, and all the other jurors became suspects because he'd been the only holdout preventing them from reaching a guilty verdict and getting back to their own lives.
  • An episode of The Nanny had Fran sitting on the Jury of a case that mirrors her Will They or Won't They? relationship with Mr. Sheffield (a man who said he loved a woman then took it back), and she gets inappropriately emotionally invested.
  • Hancock's Half Hour did an episode based on 12 Angry Men, with Hancock and James both on the same jury and each holding up proceedings for different reasons - Hancock because he can't decide on his verdict, and James because the jury are getting put up in a nice hotel for free and he wants to milk it for as long as possible.
  • Fonzie and Mr. Cunningham served on a jury on Happy Days where a black gentleman who rode a motorcycle was accused of stealing a woman's purse and riding off, holding the purse up in his left hand. The rest of the jury (including Mr. C) was convinced of the man's guilt until Fonzie read the court documents that he had been riding a motorcycle made in England. He tells the other jurors that the man couldn't have stolen the purse, since that particular bike's accelerator is on the left handlebar. One of the other jurors clearly didn't want to acquit him until Fonzie pointed out that the man can't be convicted for Riding while Black.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry gets jury duty and is perfectly happy pretending to be a racist in front of a room full of people in order to get challenged.
    "I don't know if I could be impartial, Mr. Conden, given that the defendant is a Negro." [cue Death Glares]
  • In an episode of Bones Brennan serves on a jury and convinces her fellow jurors to acquit the defendant. Meanwhile the gang at the lab investigate a separate murder which essentially proves that the defendant is guilty, but can't tell Brennan because rules of jurisprudence forbid anyone from talking about the trial with her until after it's over.
  • Cheers: Diane serves on a jury and is desperate to talk about the case with the folks at the bar even though it's not allowed.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dilbert had a brief arc with him on Jury Duty, the more memorable strip has a man excused because his religion forbids judging other people.
    Other guy: Oh, I think I'm that religion too!
    Religious person: [Thinking] What an idiot!
    • Dilbert's creator, Scott Adams, once wrote about his own experience on a jury. He was the only juror who thought there was even a chance (though a very small one) that the guy was innocent of the many crimes he was accused of, but decided not to speak up because he was hungry and didn't want to drag the deliberation out. He ends the segment by apologizing to the defendant: "I'm sorry I basically sent you to jail for the rest of your life so I could get a Snickers."
    • Another Dilbert strip had a co-worker asking him what excuse he was planning to use to get out of jury duty. When he says that he intends to serve, the co-worker says, "Insanity. That's a good one."
  • In The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Fat Freddy gets called for jury duty and eagerly anticipates the easy money, but his roommates warn him that potential jurors are sometimes dismissed based on their looks - so he slicks down his hair and puts on a suit to look super-straight...and the freak defense attorney dismisses him over his looks.
  • Clive gets jury duty in an arc in the Alex strip and ends up teaching his fellow juror how to fiddle their expense claims.

    Radio 
  • The Ellery Queen radio show had an episode where Ellery and his secretary Nikki both ended up on the same jury, and Ellery ended up solving the case and revealing the true killer who was also in the courtroom (similar to the Murder, She Wrote example but predating it by decades).
    • Ironically enough, the people who made Murder She Wrote, worked on the Ellery Queen TV show.
  • An Adventures in Odyssey episode has Eugene and Bernard get called up for this. The episode involves Eugene being very thorough asking for a transcript of the trial and going through the details meticulously, much to the annoyance of the other jurors. Since everyone else is all set to give a guilty verdict, this turns him into a Rogue Juror by default.
    • The twist of the episode is that, naturally, Eugene is right, the defendant isn't guilty. Through examination of the evidence and testimony, he manages to also convince 10 of the other 11 jurors of this fact, and the jury is disqualified when the last advocate of a guilty verdict is discovered to have a pre-existing grudge against the defendant.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer in "The Boy Who Knew Too Much." He stalls the verdict in order to keep staying in the hotel where the jurors are sequestered, unknowingly giving Bart time to agonize over whether or not he should admit he skipped school and saw the alleged "crime".
    Lisa: I'm sure he'll be found innocent by an impartial jury.
    [cut]
    Homer: Jury duty? I'll see that Quimby kid hanged for this!
    Lisa: I knew it was a mistake to watch him open the mail.
    • When Apu becomes an American citizen, one thing in his mail is a jury duty summons. He says that now he is truly an American, and tosses it in the trash (ironically, he was on the jury with Homer in the earlier episode).
    • Homer gave tips to Bart on how to avoid jury duty. "Just say you're prejudiced against all races."
    • Fat Tony (the one who used to be Fit Tony) was once a juror and had an accountant head his "legitimate business" for him.
  • An episode of Harvey Birdman has him get selected for the jury of a trial he is also the defense lawyer for. Judge Mentok solves this dilemma by using Elliott the Deadly Duplicator's ray to make a copy of Birdman, so one can sit on the jury. He learns that the other jurors don't think very much of his defense style.
    • This is clearly a case of the Rule of Funny, because in a real court of law, being a lawyer already involved in a court case is a perfectly valid excuse to get out of jury duty.
    • There's also the issue of Birdman's duplicate still technically being him, in a sense, and can't really be called an impartial juror. But again, Rule of Funny.
  • Family Guy:
    • Peter in "April in Quahog" during the first plot. He was excited at being selected for the first time thinking he was special before realizing that everyone does jury duty at some point. He attempts to get kicked out of jury.
    • In a season 4 episode, Peter had jury duty in a cutaway gag pretending to be racist by stating (to the all white jury) "Awful lot of Honkies in here."
    • "12 and a Half Angry Men" is a straightforward 12 Angry Men parody, with Brian taking the Henry Fonda role and making the jury reenact an orgy.
  • Pepper Ann had one where the mom had jury duty, and it quickly became a parody of 12 Angry Men.
  • The Keeper of the Reaper episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy was about a trial to decide who got to keep Grim due to Billy's family moving, but a lot of time was given to one of the jurors, an eccentric demon named Fred Fredburger.
  • Stan Smith in the American Dad! episode "The People vs. Martin Sugar". He is always eager to attend jury duty every year as he sees it as one of the duties of a true American, even renting out a hotel room during the trial to make sure he stays impartial. It turns out the defendant is one of Roger's personas who attempts to charm the entire courtroom, with no effect on Stan.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "Norm Unleashed", Doofenshmirtz was called to be a juror. He expected to be let out of it by admitting he's an Evil Scientist ("Evil", not "Mad") but the judge decided having one as a juror would be useful as the defendant was another one. Dr. Diminutive was to be put on trial for the damages he caused by using the Schmaltz-inator he "borrowed" (read: stole) from Doofenshmirtz. Doof, despite wanting out of jury duty, denied being acquainted to Diminutive. Both of them started arguing and ended up in prison.
    • In that same episode, another juror, when asked to state his occupation, claimed to be "between jobs". Doof thought he said that to get out of jury duty and that it wouldn't work. He did get out of it but he ironically wanted to be a juror so he could add that to his resume.
    • In another episode, Major Monogram got jury duty. When he was about to state the verdict, he was hit by an inator that makes people say double negatives, causing the defendant to be declared "not not guilty" instead of "not guilty".
  • Batman Beyond: When Mad Stan blew up the City Hall (in a virtual reality simulator owned by Spellbinder) one of the things he expected from this was "no more jury duty".

    Real Life 
  • In his latest Evening With DVD, Kevin Smith tells a hilarious story about serving jury duty while suffering from a rather painful anal lesion.
  • Jeremy Clarkson relates an anecdote about serving on a jury where he remembers two notable characters: The first was a snobbish Stepford Suburbia type who said "He's clearly guilty - he has a beard and everything." The second was a black woman who said she couldn't find a fellow black person guilty of anything (she was the only one to vote "not guilty"). These instances have given him a notable hatred of the jury system, saying that if he ever commits a crime, he doesn't want to be judged by "a bunch of idiots from McDonald's and Kwik-Fit."
  • In Virginia, a seldom noticed part of the law makes it trivially easy to get out of jury duty. 8.01-339 of the Code of Virginia says "No person shall be eligible to serve on any jury when he, or any person for him, solicits or requests a jury commissioner to place his name in a jury box or in any way designate such person as a juror." So all it takes in the Commonwealth of Virginia to get removed from the jury pool is to write a letter to your county's Jury Commissioner requesting to be put on the list, which then means, by law, they would have to strike your name and remove it from consideration.

Hanging JudgeThe Courtroom IndexJury and Witness Tampering

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
40289
4