Jury Duty summons question

I was over at my friends house (we live in Los Angeles county), and saw him throw away a Jury duty summons. I asked him if that was ok and if he was going to get in trouble for it. He replied that as long as the gov, doesn’t send it certified or delivered by a sheriff, there is no need to go to the jury duty.

Now I am guessing that what he did is probably illegal, but… is there anyway that he can get in trouble for throwing away the jury summons?


From the website of the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County.

“Failure to report for service on the day instructed on the summons may subject the prospective juror to a sanction of $1,500.”

But lets say it goes to court… Couldn’t the friend claim that he never recieved the summons? Would that defense get him anywhere?

Yup, that’s what I wonder too… my friends says that the $1500 thing is just to scare everyone into going, and that unless they send the jury duty summons certified or delivered by a sheriff there is noway that the government can prove that they sent you the summons in the first place.


In South Carolina, where I have served on municipal and federal juries, the judge issues a bench warrant for anyone not there when the roll is called. Municpal warrants were served, I believe, by sheriff’s deputies; federal by U.S. marshalls.

I would imagine that the warrant allows the serving officer to place the negligent juror under arrest long enough to be brought before the judge and give an explanation as to his or her absence. At that point, you would be there whether you want to be or not.

As easy as jury duty is to get out of, I find it incredibly amazing that anybody would want to put him or herself through all of this.

So in South Carolina… you can get arrested if the post office were to accidentally lose your mail?


I recently received a jury duty summons (at least I assume that’s what it was, from the appearance of the envelope) that had nothing inside. After several hours of fruitless search (I’m in New York) I concluded that there was no number I could call where I’d reach a real person to ask about this. So I put an explanatory note in the envelope and returned it. I haven’t heard anything since, but I wonder, are they going to come arrest me?

Whatever you do, don’t be a wise guy.

I’m in California. I was told a convincing story of a person in my city who ignored the jury summons, was later pulled over by the police, handcuffed, and arrested.

Great story, Fear Itself!

In Los Angeles County it has become very difficult to get out of jury duty. Thery are now on the one day/one trial system (you show up for one day, and if you don’t get put on a trial, you are free for at least a year). Because of that, they need to keep a large number of folks rotating through the jury room, and have made it next to impossible to get off. When I went to jury duty last month, the judge said to the group that unless you literally will lose your home if you serve, you can’t get off. Prior to serving, you can request an extension – putting off the duty to a later date – but can’t get out of it.

I don’t know the ins and outs of the law on jury service, but it might be possible that the notice and delivery standards for jury summonses are not as strict as for other kinds of summonses and warrants.

Here in Virginia (Federal court for the eastern district of VA - that’s my recent experience) they do this:

A) Mail you a notice that you may be chosen. You’re asked to return the notice with some info (work phone, etc)

B) After you’ve returned it you may or may not be called. When you’re called you receive a phone call letting you know when and where.

C) You better damn sure show up.

I got off because they’re about 2 hours from my house and I have a baby in day care. They don’t shut down until six and my calculations placed that (for a 3 day trial) at about $800 worth of late fees. Ouch!

What if you don’t mail this back?

They mail it to you again and again and they also try to call. They’re quite persistent.

Anecdotal answer, last time I was at just the girl on the bus next to me on the way there was a college kid-- she and her roommates all got summons about the same time and as a group decided to ignore them. So more summons came. After the third or so they got more official-looking summons and phone calls and-- I can’t remember if they were actually fined (she was pretty abashed about it all) or just sternly warned about an upcoming fine.

Does anyone know how exactly the courts decide who to summon in for jury duty? I’m kinda curious why I’ve never gotten a call.

I’ve never gotten summoned either…does this have to do with your voter registration? I’m a registered voter, but I’ve moved a lot…does this mean I won’t be summoned until I update my mailing address?

Just kind of curious.

Audrey and Kaio,

I believe the process varies from state to state and court to court.

From the link below for San Diego.


I served jury duty in a municipal court in a small town south of Houston. Most of us summoned showed up. The judge read the roll and made note of those not present. She then instructed a city police officer to go get them. Being a small town, he knew where to find them, and he hauled them in. I think they got fined. The funny thing is, the trial was for a speeding ticket. The prosecutor and the defendent agreed to simply choose the first six people on the front row. Everyone else got to go home. I got chosen as a juror even though the judge was also my personal attorney and working on a family-law case for me. She was also the wife of a co-worker. Like I said, it was a small town. The only one we all didn’t know was the defendent – he was from out -of-town.

The trial, now that’s another funny story…