Monday, February 04, 2008

The long influence of New York baseball 

Do sports loyalties correlate with attitudes in other areas?

I watched the Super Bowl and generally talked sports last night with a bunch of New Yorkers who happen to be lawyers, and was reminded of a letter to the editor of the New York Times that I had read back when I was in college. Back in the day, lawyers examining potential jurors believed that the baseball team a person rooted for predicted his proclivities toward defendants:

To the Editor:

A close if overlooked relationship exists between Ira Glasser's apologia for the Brooklyn Dodgers (Op-Ed May 3) and the current dispute over permitting lawyers to continue to conduct the voir dire of juries in criminal cases.

Before 1957, New York lawyers chose juries inexpensively and expeditiously by asking just one question: What baseball team do you root for?

If the juror answered, ''Yankees,'' the defense exercised a peremptory challenge. If the juror said, ''Dodgers,'' the prosecution exercised the challenge. But Giants fans were eminently acceptable to both sides, under a tacit understanding that they were the only reasonable people in town.

BURT NEUBORNE, Legal Director, A.C.L.U., New York, May 17, 1983

Thinking about it, I remember that my grandfather, a Giants fan, had more stories about jury duty than most people.

And, yes, it is freaky and weird that I remembered having read this letter almost twenty-five years ago, and cool that the NYT's search engine coughed it up.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 04, 03:28:00 PM:

And people criticize our jury system! Ha!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 09, 10:46:00 PM:


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