LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Addressing Jury Service
Disappointingly I must address the community regarding jury duty. We have had a rash of low turnout to our jury calls of late, and last week I had to declare a mistrial due to a lack of qualified panelists from which to seat a jury. Not only was it ultimately a lost workday for the Court staff and all involved in putting on the trial, but also for the responsible panelists who did show up to do their duty.
Our judicial system is incredible, and the envy of the world, but it only works when citizens fulfill their role to appear and serve. Jury service is one of the few instances where ordinary citizens have a direct impact on their society…you set the standards of conduct and expectations for your community. Furthermore, I am sure you would agree that if it were you or your loved one facing a criminal charge, or a civil dispute decided by trial, you would prefer as large a group to pick a jury from as possible.
Though I’ve been reluctant to do so in the past, I’m left with no choice but to invoke the statutory penalty for failure to respond to a jury summons, being a finding of contempt and a fine of up to $500.
If you fail to meet one of the qualifications to serve or wish to exercise one of the exemptions from service found on the notice you receive, you must contact the clerk’s office and let them know. For those that fail to respond or show up for service, you will be hearing from the Court again, and next time you will need your checkbook.
Judge John W. Youngblood
20th District Court