Jury Duty is Lame (rant)

Civic duty, blah blah. For whatever reason-- let’s assume it really is random-- I’ve been summoned for jury duty 7 or 8 times in the last 20 years. My husband has been summoned 0 times during that same time period. I had to go in August and just got another summons. I called to get an excuse on the basis that I literally JUST had jury duty, and they said “Oh for Superior Court, it’s different than Federal District Court so your service doesn’t count.”
How on earth is this a viable system? I actually have quite a bit of flexibility at my job but having to serve twice within a few months of each other is a ridiculous burden.
FWIW the clerk was very pleasant and let me defer service til January of next year but still, I’m highly annoyed that the expectation is apparently that people are just sitting around with nothing else to do but serve on juries all the time.

And I would love to serve on a jury, but I can’t afford to pay my employees for time I do not work, and they are only needed when I’m there.

I’m excused anytime I’m called, due to this.

A lot of disputes in our society are resolved by juries. It’s right their in the 6th and 7th amendments. We (generally) do what we can to minimize the inconvenience that jurors face, but we need jurors. And it doesn’t work well just picking retired and unemployed people. I’d estimate most people get on a jury 0 to 3 times in their lifetimes. (we always ask about prior jury service during jury selection, so I have some pretty good data). To me, that doesn’t seem like too much of a burden. Especially since allowances are always made for true hardships (like Kayaker’s situation) or the OP’s (moving the date since she just served).

Someday, you may want a jury of your peers deciding if you go to jail or deserve compensation for an injury.

I see the value, really I do. The first time, the second time, the third and fourth time even. By the time you’re called for the 8th time, and then again in the same calendar year, it is … I don’t know what it is other than to say it’s really frustrating. I feel like I’ve been flagged as someone who actually shows up and so they keep calling me back.

I get it. I don’t think they flag you, but it does seem extreme.

I’d be interested in knowing how common jury duty is outside the US and Canada. It seems to be very common in the US. Here in Canada in my long life here the closest I’ve ever come is getting an official form with a few questions I had to answer (one of which was a formalized version of basically “are you insane?”) which I sent back as required. This was many years ago and I’ve never been called, and it’s the only contact I’ve ever had with the jury system. I don’t think I personally know anyone who’s served on a jury. But in the US it seems to be very commonplace.

When you say “summoned” 8 times in 20 years, do you mean having to physically show up 8 times, or does that include being on-call?
That seems to be the most common outcome I get. On-call where I have to call in daily (or check on-line for the last 5 years or so) for a week, but I never get called in. I get summoned every other year or so, but I’ve needed to physically go to a courthouse only 5 times in 37 years.
Made it onto a jury twice, and into deliberations only once.

The wheels of justice must grind slowly.

I don’t get called all that often (maybe once every five years?) but I have never even come close to an actual trial.

Once the judge spent 15 minutes telling us how he respects us and wouldn’t waste or time, knowing full well he was going to send us home (and hence wasted our time).

I actually got to voir dire, on a drunk driving case. The judge dismissed anyone who has a family member hurt by a drunk driver, then anyone who had been involved in a drunk driving case, then anyone who had been DUI, then anyone who drank, and then finally anyone who had heard of alcohol. (the last may be slightly exaggerated).

How can that happen? The case was delayed again (it wasn’t the first delay). You’ll have a hard time finding a jury with that level of exclusion.

I think I’d like to be on a jury. Wonder if I ever will.

I’m not an expert on Canadian law, but I do know that a lot of things that would be jury trials in the U.S. are judge trials in Canada.

I’ve been contacted twice in the past 25 years. Each time I explained that my employees would not be paid (by me) for time I wasn’t there, and I was excused.

Around here it’s show up in person for (at least) 1 day. 7 of those times, I did my day and that was it. I’ve been on a jury once.

The Federal summons is like you described, you’re basically on-call for 2 weeks (which I also think is strange, I’m not sure how to manage the situation where any appointments during that time might have to be canceled at a moment’s notice if I’m asked to show up?)

That’s probably one of the major reasons for the difference.

Perhaps another one is that Canada has no equivalent of a “grand jury” system for bringing initial indictments. In fact, looking it up just now, it seems that the US and Liberia are the only two countries in the world that do so.

I don’t want to jinx myself by talking about it but I’ve never been summoned. Maybe it’s because I live in a highly populated area, but I’m not sure. Luck of the draw? My youngest brother can say the same though he lives in a more rural county.

For years I’ve wanted to serve on juries and only been asked once, after I moved out of the state. Now, during a raging pandemic, I’ve been asked to serve - twice. I’ve truthfully identified conditions that would put me at risk of being in an enclosed area

Correct. For example, we don’t use juries in civil matters. Generally, juries in Canada only deal with criminal matters, and then only for major criminal matters. Small stuff (e.g. theft under $5000, or a first-time DUI, or similar) will be dealt with by a judge alone.

Interestingly, lawyers in Canada are specifically exempt from serving on a jury. I was called once, before I went to law school; and never since. Mistakes can happen in the bureaucracy though, and I understand that on the paperwork they send, there are opt-out boxes to tick if you are a lawyer, or other prohibited occupation.

I know a visiting Japanese college student, who’s been in the US for 17 months, who received a jury notice on Monday of this week. He doesn’t have a driver’s license or voter’s registration, so they picked up his info somewhere else. He’s here to learn English, so he would need a translator.

I’ve been eligible for jury duty for 40+ years, been called 3 times, served twice. I loved doing it. Fortunately it wasn’t a hardship.

I’m somewhat curious as to their selection methods. I was called once, back in 1982. Basically had to go to the courthouse and sit around all day; at one point I was in a pool of people who got called into a courtroom, but I think they got their 12 people before they got to me, so I was done.

Since then, I’ve gotten a “jury questionnaire” in the mail I think a total of 3 times - one, fairly recent, and supposedly to qualify me for juries for next year. The other times, I just had to phone in the night before and find out if I needed to show up, for two specific dates. The answer was “nope” both times (phew - as the second time, I forgot to call until hours after I’d have needed to be there).

My husband got called up, and actually served, twice in a couple of years - both when the kids were quite young. That was 20+ years ago.

I actually got a doctor’s note once, as due to some health issues, I felt it was highly likely I would have trouble staying awake during a trial. I now have meds to handle that, so I guess if I get called, I’ll be able to serve.

I’ve only been on two juries, but the second was a two-week long eminent domain case. If you like to look at charts and geological diagrams, you would be in heaven. Not so much for me, though.

To the OP: I suspect every jurisdiction is different. I have been called many times in the last 15 years. I even volunteered to be put in the pool for a while. I stopped volunteering a few years ago and now save the paperwork that says I was called on date X. I can now prove when I last was called. I’m not angry about it, but the selection criteria is erratic.

Procrustus “Someday, you may want a jury of your peers deciding if you go to jail or deserve compensation for an injury.”

I’ve been there and agree.

asahi For years I’ve wanted to serve on juries and only been asked once…

If you really want to do it, go to the jury office and ask to be placed on the list. I’ve done it many times because at the time I wanted to be a juror.

Jury service is a good civic thing. Do it.

I get a summons roughly every year, while my wife gets one about one every 5 - so I am a bit envious. That makes roughly 20-24 times I’ve gotten the dreaded letter, and of those, figure I had to show up about 10 times. Of those ten times, I was was released 8, released after questioning once, and seated once. And the one time I was seated we were dismissed to quarter repeatedly and released from duty first thing the second day as the prosecutor (who had taken over the case from another less than a month prior) really didn’t have the information to prosecute the case as the plaintiff refused to return to the state due to a bench warrant for their arrest. :roll_eyes:

So, figure in almost 25 years, I’ve wasted about 8x4 hours sitting around doing nothing, 1x6 hours of sitting around and then being questioned along with the other potential jurors, and 1x10 hours of waiting, hearing initial testimony and being sent away as the judge and lawyers bickered about allowable evidence. 48 hours in all.

Not too shabby, but I do wish my employer had been more understanding that after being there for 6 hours that one time, I didn’t want to come in and do a full 8 hour shift even though I was released before my shift start - I did get up 4 hours early to go but that was my problem, not theirs… (at the time I was working 2-10pm).