Missing jury duty

About two years ago, I lost my summons. On the advise of a lawyer friend, I did not worry about it. The reason she said is that there is no way they could ever prove you got the summons unless it was delivered directly to you or was sent by certified mail.

I have been told that skipping jury duty can affect you getting a license renewal, as well as tags. It did not happen. The question is, other than sending jury summons by certified mail, what can they do about it? It really seems to be dependent on the honor system.

I think it might be acceptance of the fact that any reasonably intelligent person who wants to get out of jury duty can do so without too much trouble. Why go to great lengths to get you in there when it’s so easy to get back out? So in a sense it is an honor system.

I believe you can get a court summons which I assume arrives by certified mail. But I think this is only when you miss a few times.

I had a girlfriend who simply threw out every jury duty summons she ever got, apparently with no ill reprecussions. (Yes, she was an evil person deep down; I broke it off eventually.)

Once, due to a busy schedule, honest forgetfulness – and no doubt, a small touch of her evil influence – I simply ignored a jury duty summons myself. The sky did not fall on me either; I merely got a new notice about six months later, which I heeded. (All of this in NY City/State about 5 years ago.)

A summons for jury duty is a legal order like any other summons and defying it can land you in contempt of court trouble–at least in theory. They can arrest your butt and haul you in if they want to.

In practice this usually happens only when there is some kind of political push to dramatize the need for ordinary citizens to respond to jury duty notices. Multiple offenders, rather than one-time or occasional scofflaws, are usually targeted. As to license non-renewals, that’s very likely a matter of state law; I have no useful knowledge about that.

But may I suggest you get down there and serve? If you thought the OJ decision was wrong, it’s your moral duty to show up and improve the intellectual quality of the jury pool! If you have a real conflict, respectfully explain it to the court (often you can get excused by a court clerk). Unless you get really unlucky, they usually postpone service: they WANT you paying attention to the case, not worrying about what’s happening to the baby/the business/the elderly parent.

I respond to them without fail. I’ve never been selected, but I’ve sat through the screening manny times. And I know manny who systematically let them pass without showing up. I’ve never heard of anybody being prosecuted for ignoring one.

The courts rely upon a certain percentage of the citizenry responding to the call. And here in Texas they eventually began using drivers’ license records instead of the gold standard (voter registration) to boost the jury pool. In a way I see it as a situation comparable to that the IRS faces. They cannot possibly actually enforce compliance with every individual, but the threat of sanction combined with the surviving (as it is) sense of civic duty keeps the system functioning to this point.

And sure, it’s a pain in the a** to comply, and was most notably so to myself when I was operating a small business. Nevertheless, I do respond, because a day or two of my time devoted to keeping it all working is an accepted cost in my picture. An eight month long civil suit might make me one sourpuss juror, though.

But in the near future you can probably remain a scofflaw without repercussion outside of whatever failings that demands in your own sense of how things work.

What can they do about it? Well, as your lawyer friend pointed out, not much currently, unless they adopt the IRS standard that “if we think we told you, we told you.” Fortunately standards that might hold in Tax Court (?) don’t extend to normal civil and criminal legal arenas, I think. So, they probably won’t crank up the enforcement machinery until a biting shortage of jurors appears.

And when that crisis arrives, will the powers that be decide that more intrusive measures must be taken to insure participation by the public, or will they perhaps decide (supported by stats, charts and whatever; and opposed by the few who might bother to care) that it is far more efficient to just leave a demonstrably disinterested public out of the process and discontinue the jury system?

I forgot to show up when I was summoned the first time, and I got a notice in the mail the next week, telling me to call the jury coordinator (or whatever the hell the title is) and reschedule for another week or be held in contempt. (I’m in Washington State)

I served on a capital murder case back in October and during the selection process the judge issued an order each morning to the Sheriff to “go find 'em” for each potential juror that did not appear . I felt they were making a point - if you don’t feel like you need to show up because your life is so much more important than this then we will inconvenince you as much as possible by tracking you down and hauling you in to be excused/postponed.

I also learned that during the selection process if they run out of potential jurors the court has the right to send officers of the court out onto the street to round people up. One of the deputys told me they have had to do this in the past.

Keep in mind that this is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina - It could be different in the “real world”. :rolleyes:

beatle, you’re either brave or stupid to diss a moderator like this.

This is terribly geeky, I know, but I was called recently and I was happy to do it. Three reasons: First, i was due - I had made it to age 42 before being called. Second, since my employer pays for jury days, I figured it was less stress and more interesting than my REAL job. Third, I agree with the point above regarding “if you don’t serve, don’t complain about the OJ verdict.”

I recieved a jury summons in the mail addressed to the woman I bought my house from almost 2 years ago.

I threw it in the trash…

Hope she’s not in jail for that one!

I do always show up BTW. Occasionally there are some good looking women there, who are also as bored as you are.


My son got called once for jury duty. They were looking for jurors to sit for what seemed to be a frivilous lawsuit brought by a woman who allegedly suffered mental distress after being stuck in an elevator for an hour or so at a 2 story mall. The plaintiff’s attorney asked him “Have you yourself ever been stuck in an elevator at a mall?” he answered “Only when me and my friends jammed it.” Dismissed.

Since I moved to Baltimore City (MD), I’ve had jury duty 4 times in 5 years. I lived in Baltimore County for 12 years after I registered to vote, and never got called.

I was in a jury pool once when the judge decided there were not enough jurors. He had the court clerk retrieve a list of potential jurors who had not shown up that day, and proceeded to tell us that he was going to issue summonses to those people for contempt of court.

Okay, in about a year I got called 4 times. However, very often your group does not meet at the courthouse. So, if you throw it out & your group doesn’t meet, they won’t know.

When your group does meet & your don’t show up, then they know.

I’m in King County…Seattle. I accidentally showed up a day late for jury duty. The lady ripped up my summons, and told me that I’d get another one in the near future. Its been 3 years, and I haven’t heard a thing.

In NYC the system recently changed. You get one free “Oops-I-never-saw-my-summons,” and then they can start making your life difficult. I responded to the second summons, and discovered that the process is now a lot easier. In the bad old days, there were so many automatic exemptions that the few people left would have to show up every morning and sit around waiting – for two weeks. Now there are no exceptions, which I think is as it should be. I’m a lawyer, yes, but I don’t know much more about the criminal law than someone who watches Homicide. Under the new system, at most you have to show up for four days, usually it’s only three, and in my case (which I guess is pretty common) it was only two days, which just isn’t that big of a commitment for upholding the jury system.

Of course, the Chief Judge of New York and our mayor both made a point of showing up for their jury duties. Occasionally you hear of retired judges being empaneled!