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"Sitting downtown, in air-conditioning, judging people all day, with your lunches paid for? That's the life..."
Stanley Hudson, The Office

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 of Jury Duty include:

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.

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.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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 excluded from the jury selection process repeatedly 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.
    • This was an astoundingly egregious one due to all the procedural errors. Just for starters, Jordan was already acquainted with the prosecutor as a result of her job.
    • Sleuth as juror is an interesting subtrope. The titular characters of Quincy, M.E. and Matlock both served on juries. The procedural issues were lampshaded in both instances. Quincy forces a mistrial; the Matlock ep works pretty much how you might expect.
  • 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.
  • Liz Lemon of Thirty 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, she uses her detective skills to convince the rest of the jury 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 looses 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 John 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.
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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 acccused 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 acquital 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.

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.

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.

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."
  • 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.
  • Peter Griffin in the Family Guy episode "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 (at the all white jury) there's "Awful lot of Honkies in here."
  • 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 and 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 Fred Fredburger who was a juror in that episode.
  • Stan Smith in 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 persona who attempts to charm the entire courtroom and with no effect on Stan.
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