Over the years I have received numerous phone calls from family and friends who were required to report for jury duty. We all have busy lives and jury duty simply is inconvenient. I am often asked “What can I say or do to get out of serving?”

 

When I hear these questions, I simply can’t help myself from preaching a bit about what a great justice system we have. Yes, there are flaws. But the reason the system works is because good, common sense individuals, participate. So when I hear from a friend that is trying to figure out a way to get out jury duty, I get up on my soapbox and explain to them why they need to serve. Yes, I am probably too pushy, but I believe it is important.

 

A TRUE STORY

 

A friend (let’s call her Beth) calls and says she has been advised she will have to report for jury duty. I immediately tell Beth that she MUST serve on the jury, that it is her civic duty, and that it would be horrible if she did not. Beth gives in to my pressure and decides she will give up her efforts to get out of serving.

 

Beth calls a week later, she has been picked to serve on a federal jury. The defendant is charged with racketeering, murder, attempted murder and some other horrible things. The defendant is allegedly a member of a very violent gang. The jury members are required to exit the courtroom through the back door and are escorted to their cars. The trial lasts 2 weeks. When Beth goes out to lunch each day, all the jurors are required to stay together and are escorted to the restaurant by police. SAFETY IS A HUGE CONCERN.

 

I felt pretty darn guilty after that first phone call from her. BUT IT GETS WORSE! The jury convicts the defendant.   Beth, who lives by herself and is single, receives a letter from the defendant. The defendant tells Beth she needs to come forward and tell the attorneys she was mistaken. Beth gets a voicemail on her home phone that says, “I AM GOING TO GET YOU, I AM WATCHING YOU”

 

Now Beth is really scared. Sounds like something out of a movie. The FBI gets involved. They tell Beth to change her routines, make sure no one is following her, etc. Now I feel beyond guilty, I am downright scared that something might happen to Beth.

 

Beth endured many sleepless nights, and I made many phone calls to check on her. Eventually, everything settled down, and she never heard from anyone again.

 

Please don’t let this crazy, but true, story deter you. We need good common sense people to serve on our juries.

 

If you have an interesting story about serving on a jury, I would love to hear about it.