A man charged with murder got an unexpected note in the mail -- a jury duty summons for his own trial in Schenectady County Court.
On Tuesday morning with his trial set to start, Visiting Schenectady County Judge Richard Giardino
wisecracked that the defendant, Derrick C. Smith
, told him he was more than willing to be part of the jury pool, and if selected could be fair and impartial.
Smith, who was seated in court with his defense attorney, Mark Gaylord
, when Giardino mentioned the matter, nodded and cracked a smile when the judge mentioned the matter. Gaylord confirmed his client had received the jury letter.
Commissioner of Jurors Hope Splittgerber said that in her 28 years on the job no defendant had ever receive a summons to be a juror at his own trial. Smith was Juror 171.
"I have never had this happen," said Splittgerber.
She said Smith had received the jury summons at his home in late August after he failed to respond to a juror questionnaire sent to him under a policy designed to save the court from the need to mail out multiple questionnaires.
"When people do not send (the questionnaire) back, we automatically qualify them," Spittlgerber said, "and when they come in, they have to tell us why they didn't send it back."
It was a moment of levity in an otherwise grim case of Smith and Charles Louviere
, who are accused of killing Michael Deveaux
Jr. after fight at a city bar in the early hours of June 27, 2010.
In the trial's opening arguments, the prosecutor told jurors that as Deveaux lay dying on a city street, Smith stood over him at and pumped two more shots into his chest.