The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Mayor Halloran answers the call for jury duty; not surprisingly, passed over as juror

In City Hall, Mayor Kay Halloran on May 7, 2008 at 3:06 am

Mayor Kay Halloran recalled her days as a practicing attorney this week and the times in which clients would call her asking for some advice on how to get out of jury duty.

Halloran said her answer was always the same: Do your duty. Her idea was something like this: Wouldn’t you want someone like you in the jury box if you were on trial?

So early Monday morning, there was the mayor, joining in a large pool of fellow Linn County citizen who had turned out at the Linn County Courthouse to perform jury duty.

Her number was called among a group of 16 potential jurors to hear one of the cases on the docket, a civil case involving a traffic accident of some sort. The civil jury needed just half of the 16, so attorneys on both sides of the case asked questions of the potential jurors and picked some and not others.

Halloran didn’t stand much of a chance to make it.

Mayors know people. They have entanglements.

For starters, Halloran knew attorneys on both sides of the civil case. Surely, police officers would be testifying. Police officers work for the city, the place the mayor leads.

Early on, one of the attorneys, Robert Wilson of Cedar Rapids, asked Halloran a question by calling her “Mayor Halloran.”

“The jig was up from the beginning,” Halloran said.

Wilson, of late, has represented the former city’s Veterans Memorial director, Gary Craig, as Craig worked out a resignation from his job. Halloran is an ex officio member of the Veterans Commission in her role of mayor. Even now, a state audit is underway looking at veterans’ issues in the city.

In the end, one of the attorneys asked her to explain the difference to other jurors between the criminal standard of evidence, which is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, and the civil standard, which is the preponderance of the evidence.

Then she was sent packing. She said she was just kidding when she said she felt rejected. But she sounded like she wouldn’t have minded sitting on the jury.

“I would have served cheerfully,” the mayor said. “But I can understand why I wasn’t anybody’s first choice.”

She was back at her duty station at City Hall by early afternoon.

 

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