While perusing the paper yesterday I happened upon this this headline: Courts struggle to find jurors who will serve. I couldn't think of any reason why off the top of my head, after all it's not like the adult population has suddenly dipped in number, so I continued on figuring it would be an interesting read.
Interesting, but somewhat maddening actually.
You see, the reason that courts across the country are having trouble finding enough jurors to serve is because PEOPLE JUST AREN'T SHOWING UP!!!
That's right. According to one study, "fewer than half of all Americans summoned report for duty." LESS THAN HALF!!!
When I shared this information with my husband, he was surprised (as was I) pointing out that he thought there were all kinds of penalties for not showing up. While I believe this is true, I also believe that many people are playing the odds that the courts won't prosecute them because they have bigger things to worry about. Apparently they're right.
Which is why I find this so despicable. Look, no one likes having to report to jury duty. It sucks getting up early, finding a parking space within reasonable walking distance of the courthouse (at least around the courthouses I've had to serve in), no one likes being locked up in what reminds me of a high school classroom with 30 or so other strangers (all as happy as you and I are about their present situation) and waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting . . . Hoping not to be called so that you don't end up with some case that brings you back to this place for several days, but hoping that they fill all the panels (without you) in a reasonable amount of time so you don't have to sit in a very uncomfortable chair all day.
Like I said, I don't like it either.
But it's necessary. It's one of those things that comes with the territory. I know we're all really busy with our own lives and all, but if we expect police officers to protect us then we have to back them up with a system that holds criminals accountable. (I will at this point agree that there are definitely problems with the criminal court system, of which I'm not about to get into here, but I'm pretty sure that there are very few, if any, who skip out on their jury service for that reason.)
So, according to the article, some counties are coming up with non-traditional ways of getting people to serve. For example, in Sanford, North Carolina court officials stand outside of grocery stores and hand out random jury summons - for that same day!! Now how inconvenient is that?! And if you mention not showing up because you have other plans, the court official will politely remind you that you will be held in contempt of court.
In New York state it is no longer possible to get a jury service waiver if you are a doctor, lawyer, police officer, firefighter or judge. In D.C. judges will issue a summons for those who skip out on their jury service and if they no-show again they can face up to seven days in jail and a $300 fine. In Tulane County, California officials have gone one step further and will personally deliver the summons to appear in court to the no-shows' home.
I don't personally know of anyone who enjoys juror duty, but you know what? Sometimes, as adults, we have to do things we don't want to do. We don't have to like it, we just have to do it. So next time you get one of those official looking envelopes in the mail, groan, let out a big sigh, complain about it constantly for the weeks leading up to it - but just show up, OK?
I'd also like to thank Em over at Notes from my Corner for giving out this award to me:
Now I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first - having never thought of myself as a schmoozer - but as Em pointed out, schmoozing can refer to simply conversing in a casual manner or to "talk intimately and cozily." Now that doesn't sound so bad, does it?
He has also sent some nice readers my way and I'm always glad to "meet" new people and hear their thoughts on things. I hope you all continue to visit and be sure to let me know what you're thinking!
So thanks again, Em! (Great post about the award itself, btw. I LOVED the last paragraph ;)
One more thing . . . This article was written by a truly talented reporter and while I have admired his work for years now, I must say that this particular piece has been one of his best so far. Really. So if you're interested, go on over and check it out . . . Oh yeah. In the spirit of full disclosure, the writer is my husband. It's still REALLY good though :)
Labels: awards, blogging, husband, news, WTF