I have been empaneled twice. In the first case it was a personal injury case involving someone who had slipped in a supermarket. During the voir dire we were asked about knowledge of law, or family members with knowledge of law. I raised my hand. I explained that my grandfather was a lawyer, his brother was a judge in NY State, my mother was Assistant Attorney General of NY State for Workman's Compensation, two aunts had married lawyers, my cousin was a lawyer, and my sister was a lawyer.
The lawyer - for the defendant, then asked if any of these worked with personal injury cases. I stared at him in disbelief, then looked at the judge, who at the time was Presiding Judge for that Circuit in Virginia (Arlington and Falls Church). He said, "Mr. Attorney, workman's compensation IS personal injury). For more than five minutes the lawyer threw questions at me trying to find a reason to get the judge to disqualify me. Finally the judge intervened saying "Mr. Attorney, we have established that the juror has not prejudged the cases, is not prejudiced either for or against your client. Don't you think it is time you stopped badgering the juror?" I knew that lawyer would strike me.
The other was a murder cases. Actually I had forgotten that I had a personal relationship with someone in a very similar case, one that should have led me to be struck by the defense. That's not what happened. This was my first panel. The judge began to swear us in and I interrupted and informed the judge that I wished to affirm rather than swear. The prosecutor's head snapped around. Checking with the representative of the Clerk of the Court at that case, I was told off the record that I was struck by the prosecutor and that word had been passed around the office of the Commonwealth's Attorney (Title of DA in Virginia) that I would affirm an oath.
In Virginia each side must strike jurors, because extra jurors are empaneled. If one is struck for cause s/he is replaced in the jury box. At the end of voir dire, each side strikes - back and forth - until the appropriate size jury (with alternates if believed necessary, as was the case in the murder trial) is achieved.
There is the family legal background.
There is my being a teacher, which means I have some powers of persuasion/instruction.
There is the fact that what I teach is government, which means I am teaching about the law, and about Court cases and legal procedure.
There is the fact that I affirm an oath.
In any proper voir dire, I will in Virginia get struck.
I will never be on a jury.
Even if I am not predisposed on a particular case.
I wonder, is that the sign of the strength of our jury system, or of its dysfunction?