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May 21, 2008

Real-life liar paradox may lead to criminal charges in Massachusetts

A Cape Cod man may face criminal charges for proclaiming himself to be a liar in an alleged bid to avoid jury duty:

On a questionnaire that all potential jurors fill out, Ellis wrote that he didn’t like homosexuals and blacks. He then echoed those sentiments in an interview with Nickerson.

You say on your form that you’re not a fan of homosexuals,” Nickerson said.

"That I’m a racist,” Ellis interrupted.

“I’m frequently found to be a liar, too. I can’t really help it,” Ellis added.

“I’m sorry?” Nickerson said.

“I said I’m frequently found to be a liar,” Ellis replied.

“So, are you lying to me now?” Nickerson asked.

“Well, I don’t know. I might be,” was the response.

"Ellis then admitted he really didn’t want to serve on a jury.

“I have the distinct impression that you’re intentionally trying to avoid jury service,” Nickerson said.

“That’s true,” Ellis answered.

Nickerson ordered Ellis taken into custody. He was released later Monday morning.

Ellis could face perjury and other charges.[MSNBC]

I don't see how they could make a perjury charge stick. Maybe he was lying about lying, which would make him a liar but not a perjurer. Or he was telling the truth about being a liar and therefore didn't perjure himself. I'd be worried about the prejudices of anyone who would label themselves as a bigot just to get out of jury duty. If the prospect of pretending to be a bigot doesn't mortify you, maybe you really are one.

My verdict: Hey, you, outta the jury pool!


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I can understand why the judge was angry. This sort of behavior undermines the jury system.

Fortunately, Greece uses a civil law system of some sort, so they evade any problems of this sort on Crete.

I've found that all you have to do to get out of jury duty is admit that you might vote to acquit in defiance of the law as written. The prosecutor will challenge you for cause, no matter how implausible the hypothetical scenario in which you might do so.

I also heard he couldn't distinguish between a drawing of a duck and of a rabbit. Unacceptable!

If I was the defendant I wouldn't want this loon on my jury.

The Republican Party should approach him about a possible political campaign. He sounds like a perfect candidate for them.

I'd bet you could also get out of jury duty by vigorously and strenuously claiming that you REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT TO BE ON THE JURY.

'Cause, you know, that means you get to "do stuff" to people, and ruin their lives! Without consequences! Sweet!

Could someone please try this and let me know how it works out? Thx!

I don't know about Massachusetts, but in Texas all members of the jury pool take an oath to honestly answer all questions put to them during jury selection. So an untruthful answer to the judge could support a perjury charge.

If the prospect of pretending to be a bigot doesn't mortify you, maybe you really are one.

This reminds me of everyone's favorite Sarah Silverman quote:

"I got jury duty … and I didn't want to go, so my friend said, "You should write something really really racist on the form when you return it. Like, you should put 'I hate chinks'." And I said, "I'm not going to put that on there just to get out of jury duty. I don't want people to think that about me." So instead I wrote, "I love chinks." And who doesn't?"

Maybe Monty Python should sue him for plagiarism.

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