What’s jury duty like? Some firsthand experience from Georgetown Law’s Darius Ngo

Darius Ngo, Director of Operations for Georgetown Law Office of Graduate & International Programs

Darius Ngo is the Director of Operations for the Office of Graduate & International Programs at Georgetown Law. He is not a lawyer nor a law professor. But like every other American citizen, he is required to report for jury duty when called. And that’s exactly what happened two weeks ago.

Jury duty is an intriguing curiosity for many of our LLM students (both in the Two-Year and One-Year LLM programs at Georgetown Law.) Especially for students coming from a country that doesn’t have jury duty in its legal system. And based on the media portrayal, jury duty is an experience of high drama, full of action and plot twists. Or cases where a woman is awarded millions of dollars for spilling hot coffee on herself. Or even cases involving a former US president!

For that reason, we thought it might be both helpful and interesting to ask Darius to share his own personal experience with jury duty. Here are some of his thoughts:

I was summoned on Monday morning and selected that late afternoon. The trial was on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the jury deliberated and provided a verdict on the charge.

The case I was on was a criminal misdemeanor sexual assault case, and we found the defendant guilty of the charge.

I think the most fascinating parts of the process were 1) watching the prosecutors and defendants try to discredit the opposing witnesses during cross examination, 2) watching closing remarks and how each side addressed the jury and how each narrative was spun, and 3) the deliberations itself since each juror had different perspectives. We deliberated for the day because we were going back and forth on whether we believed it was beyond reasonable doubt that the charge occurred. But at the end of the day, the evidence presented was clear.

It was definitely a great experience seeing the process unfold. My experience of jury duty in the past has been standing in line, waiting in the juror lounge and being dismissed after a long day. But beyond that and getting chosen, I definitely felt like I did my civic duty and contributed.

I think the most arduous part of the process is the first day of sitting, waiting, answering the judge’s selection questions, and the anticipation of getting selected or dismissed. I think that’s the majority of people’s experience with jury duty since so few are selected. But once selected, I think being in court and contributing to the U.S. justice system was very fulfilling since I am just an ordinary person not trained in law.

For LLM students who want to learn and hear more about jury duty, we encourage you to stop by the Office of Graduate & International Programs (Hotung, 5th floor) and ask Darius about it the next time you see him!

FYI, Hotung is the building on the left, behind the clocktower.

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