Should Deaf Citizens Serve on Juries?

As a hearing-impaired geezer (and “geezer” is relevant to this topic),  I am somewhat sensitive about those who become impatient and/or get perturbed when I do not immediately respond to, or respond inappropriately, to a question or a remark.  (Like most folks,  I tend to cover up some of my inadequacies in the company of others.  I am staying away from push-up bras.)

Are you aware that the North Carolina legislature is considering a bill that would allow  the “deaf and hard of hearing”) as Gene Smith terms it in his July 18 column to serve on juries?  Gene, whom I know pretty well, is quite hard of hearing (more than I, I believe), and he has been excused from jury duty on appeal at least twice in recent times.

In this column Gene presents strong opposition and valid reasons as to why the bill being considered (State Representative Rick Glazier of Fayetteville is the manager of the bill, Gene points out) should be killed.  I totally agree with Gene:  amplification, sign language,  and improved hearing aids still would be inadequate to help people like Gene and me to the degree that we could function as well as those with “normal” hearing.

I too have in the past year or so now twice asked the Clerk of Court to be permanently excused from jury duty as I am now over age 72 and likely will continue to be.  (My primary caveat, truly though, is not my age but my hearing disability.)

The only “out” that might work would be for the court system to videotape proceedings and do an “instant replay”  with “Closed Captioning.” Another assist here for our many Hispanic residents could be offering Spanish captioning.  (I don’t know if facility in the English language is now a requirement, but I expect for now the prosecution and the defense both would move to dismiss such potential jurors until they have used up their given number of DQs.)  I have not heard of any legislation pending that would permit Hispanic people who know little of no English to serve on juries.

Food for thought?  Do you have any observations?   RJR


11 Responses to “Should Deaf Citizens Serve on Juries?”

  1. Tom Says:

    I think us “deef” old geezers miss a lot of what is going on in a crowd.
    I think it would be a miscarriage of justice to have them (us) sitting on juries.

  2. Frank B Maness,Jr. Says:

    Did you guys say something? I may have missed part of that last comment by Tom? Dr. Rundus I got a pass on being called on juries because of having had prostate cancer. Makes sense to me?? Have fun in court!!! Might be a bathroom thing?

  3. Tom Says:

    Frank, interruptions in court proceedings are a no-no.
    Diuretics are a good reason for being excused from jury duty also.

  4. Forest Crump Says:

    Well, if the defendant is hearing impaired and one has a constitutional right to a jury of one’s peers…

  5. GimmeABreak Says:


  6. Lolly Says:

    Gene had a blog about this weeks ago, and the point was raised that if his hearing is good enough for a driver’s license, it’s good enough for jury duty.

  7. Kelly Henry Says:

    Lolly, I followed that blog pretty closely. Just because the point was raised doesn’t mean that the point was valide. In fact, Gene responded to that point with the below statement:

    “My ability to hear a train whistle or fire-truck siren has nothing whatsoever to do with my inability to hear people whose backs are turned, and to make out words spoken in various pitches from different parts of a large room, or with using sign or text, both of which distract from the business at hand. And, as stated earlier, I have nothing against jury duty for those who are able to perform it, and have never tried to get out of it for any reason other than the hearing impairment.”

    I also posted on that blog – I have a child who is hearing impaired and relies on a hearing aid to understand what is being said around him. Even with assisted hearing, there is still a great deal that he can/does miss. He relies on other visual cues such as reading lips, observing others in the environment, etc., just as I’m sure others with impaired hearing do. And while he can hear a siren when we’re in the car, he doesn’t always understand classroom instruction. If he doesn’t understand a teacher’s instruction because of impaired hearing, there may be a consequence in a lowered grade. If he were to serve on a jury, and didn’t understand testimony or instruction to the jury, the consequence could be much more severe.

  8. Kelly Henry Says:

    Sorry – meant to write “valid” not “valide!”

  9. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Thoughtful and useful (well, I am not so sure about Forest Crump’s “jury of one’s peers”) replies to the issue.
    I’ve not heard anything further (since Gene Smith’s column more than a month ago) about the pending legislation. Or maybe it was never actually “pending”?


  10. Jose I Cardona Says:

    What’s this kids in a jury?.
    Or did you say kid’s on jury duty?. People out there in the city of Fayetteville there are many people out there that have many problems and they get taken or excuse from jury duty. When the person reports to jury duty at that time he or she should bring the subject up of can he be dismiss from this Honor of a duty. The pay is not very good but you get to make a lot of friends while you are in that little room with another 12 or 15 people. Are you going to stop a person who is hard of hearing from being part of such an honor duty? of course not. There is a saying in this community that a person that can’t see or is blind he can’t drive but to the to the wonder of all it has been proven that yes he can drive but he might hit a couple of things along the way. If we continue to make excuses for our handicapped then they will be handicapped all of their lives. So to the hearing impaired I say show up for duty then explain to the clerk your problem and if the clerks say that you are staying, make sure you bring your hearing aid. “Starve a soldier,Feed the Asom”.

  11. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Huh? I can’t hear you. 8)

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