Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Want to Get Out of Jury Duty? Mention Jeffrey Dahmer Friendship

Oh the joys of jury duty. The civic responsibility most citizens wish they weren't responsible for. Excuses range from personal prejudices, to physical handicaps, to Jeffrey Dahmer.

Yes, mentioning a friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer can now join the list of viable excuses for getting out of jury duty. For those of you who don't know, Jeffrey Dahmer was a notorious mass murderer convicted of killing and dismembering several boys and men mainly in the Milwaukee area.

In all fairness, the dropping of Dahmer's name came during a routine jury pool inquiry. When a judge was conducting the initial jury screening, he asked the same set of questions he always asks, including "has anyone you know ever been convicted of a crime." It was prospective juror John Backdef's response that caught the courtroom off guard.

John Backdef, a popular cartoonist, honestly responded to judge's question by saying, "I had a close friend in high school that killed 17 people." Backdef casually went on to explain his relationship with Dahmer as well as his new graphic novel set to be released "My Friend Dahmer," according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Needless to say the judge, attorneys, and jury box were stunned by the response and Backdef was ultimately dismissed from jury duty. The purpose behind the line of questioning is to ensure that a fair and impartial jury is selected to sit on a given case. A friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer is not a per se bar from jury duty but it may cause concern on both sides of the case.

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