Runaway jury. . .

Of 78,639 jurors summoned in the past  year, 46 percent failed to obey summons

From Nov. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014, the Third Judicial Circuit Court has called in and expected 78,639 jurors to report for jury service; 46 percent did not obey the summons and failed to appear for jury service.

Jury service may not be as attractive as portrayed in John Grisham's 'Runaway Jury,' but it is a civic duty. Failing to answer and return the Jury Service Questionnaire and failing to appear when summoned as a juror without being excused are punishable acts of contempt.

On Oct. 1, jurors who fail to appear may find a court order from the Third Judicial Circuit Court in their mailboxes. This order, the Order to Show Cause, directs the juror to appear on Oct. 31 at an appointed time before Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo, Jr.

"Jury service is to protect the rights of a defendant in a criminal case and the parties in a civil case from an unfair prosecutor or lawyer and/or possible prejudice of a judge," explained Colombo in a press release. "It is the purest form of government because jurors are not subject to political considerations or contributions, but rather decide the case based upon the evidence. Jurors represent the thinking of the community. It is a service that should command the pride and pleasure of every citizen and should not be avoided."

Colombo reminded jurors, "The court asks jurors to serve one day or one trial while our servicemen and women sacrifice every day and serve in some of the most dangerous places in the world."

Those jurors who run and fail to appear for the Oct. 30 hearing face the risk of a bench warrant being issued for their arrest, fines, and penalties allowed under the law.

Published: Mon, Sep 22, 2014