Reader Response: Jury Duty: Vol. 6, Issue 26

Etiquetteer was delighted to hear from a few readers aboutthe most recent column:

From a Webmistress: Jury duty is one of those topics that compels me to write. It always, always distresses me when people joke about trying to skip jury duty. I have been called for jury duty more than anyone I know, and have yet actually to be a juror. The closest I ever got was I got seated once, but was thrown off the case right after the young man in leather jacket and chains. The case was too close to my only experience with the legal system, I guess, for the lawyers to think I could be impartial. I got my first summons at the age of 18, for my college dorm address!

But I want to be a juror. I would be a good juror, and pay attention. I think our legal system - flawed though it may be - is an important part of what America the nation is. So each time I go, but now I bring a good thick book with me. And if anyone around me ever speaks of trying to get off, I lecture them with every ounce of indignation I feel. Just because I was born in this country (ancestors on the Mayflower even, as well as much more recent immigrants on my family tree) doesn't mean I take being American lightly. I want to be a juror. And I will, some day, I am sure.

Etiquetteer responds: As one who has served on one civil trial jury and two criminal trial juries (once as foreman), Etiquetteer has served about 40% of the times he’s been called since becoming eligible for jury duty in the early 1980s. Etiquetteer even remembers completing Christmas cards while waiting to be summoned for jury duty one December, and heartily endorses your advice to bring a good thick book with you for the waiting period.


From a medical professional: First, the last thing I would ever want (if I found myself in that situation) is a trial by jury. I mean, to be "judged" by a random collection of 12 (possibly angry men, angry because they are serving on the jury against their will) would never work for me. I don't have that level of faith in my fellow citizen to synthesize a correct conclusion based on complicated presentations of conflicting information. I just could not consider putting the outcome of my trial in their hands.

Secondly, being a self-employed person (as I am) does not exempt one from jury duty. Employees of large corporations have their salaries paid to them for their time out of the office. Unfortunately, there is no one paying me when I am out of the office for any reason, civic responsibilities not being an exception. And as a matter of fact, I have to hire someone to be there to see my patients, at a considerable expense. One or two days of this every few years is fine. But, to be "stuck" on a trial lasting weeks or months would create a great financial hardship. Again financial hardship is not a reason to be excused from your call to duty. Serving under duress would cloud objective thinking and consideration of an evidence stream.

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