Got Jury Duty?

Most law students realize that the U.S. justice system relies on citizens willing to serve on jury duty. To be eligible for jury service, you must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a resident of the county in which you are to serve as a juror, and you must be able to communicate in English. Here in Washington, RCW 2.36.170 provides, “A person summoned for jury service who intentionally fails to appear as directed shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

If you fail to appear or fulfill your obligation to serve, some judges do post warrants. Sadly, there is recent news of a woman, jailed for failure to appear for jury duty, dying in prison following a hunger strike. Other judges call the reluctant citizens to court.

Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. in Indiana ordered a 22-year-old to spend two days carrying a sign back and forth in front of the courthouse that reads “I failed to appear for jury duty,” reports Chicago’s Post-Tribune. The unemployed man admitted he “wasn’t paying attention” when the judge told a pool of potential jurors that they had to return to court after lunch. The judge told the man he is “the very person who should be on a jury. You’ve got nothing else to do.” It isn’t the first time the judge has used this remedy on recalcitrant citizens, as an ABAJournal.com post details.

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