Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Should Professionals Be Excused From Jury Duty?

Nationwide there is a problem of getting summoned jurors to show up at court for day one of a jury trial.  One of my colleagues recently had 10 jurors fail to appear for day one a civil trial.  We judges also receive many requests to be excused from jury duty.  Many jurors can have their jury duty deferred to a more-convenient time, such as winter for construction workers and summers for teachers.  But I am frankly angered by the letter requests which basically say this, reading between the lines:

Dear Judge: 
Please excuse me from jury duty.  I have a professional job (business, etc) with many (clients, patients, students, etc.) which require my attention and they will not understand that I am unavailable due to jury duty.  This makes me more important than the average citizen, so please excuse me.  Perhaps some unemployed people or retired folks can serve in my place.
Very Important Citizen

Jury duty is just that, the DUTY of every citizen in our democratic republic.  Millions have died to protect our freedoms, including the right to have a jury trial AND to sit as a juror if called to serve.  Tens of thousands have served in Afghanistan, have died or suffered great emotional and physical harm to protect these freedoms.  It is an honor to serve on a jury, not an inconvenience.

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