Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Courts crack down on jury duty dodgers

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Court officials are cracking down on local residents who skip out on jury duty by launching a new program to systematically round up those who fail to show.
Superior Court Presiding Judge J. William McLafferty recently called on 19 county residents who ignored repeated calls to serve to explain their actions, a technique that court officials plan to use alongside penalties and fines to get folks to fulfill their duty.

“We want to make sure that those citizens who follow the rules and report when called understand that we are enforcing the rules against the others who willfully fail to appear,” Judge McLafferty said in a prepared statement.
Officials have been working behind the scenes since early this year to track down those who play hooky from jury duty, sending out a series of summons and warning letters before a deputy sheriff served a group of residents with an order to show cause.
About two-thirds of those who failed to respond had moved out of the area or didn’t receive the notices for other reasons. But the remaining homeowners had no excuse.
“It’s hard to say you’ve missed four pieces of mail,” Superior Court Executive Officer Gary Blair said.
All 19 residents called in recently admitted they had simply ignored or discarded their summons and warning letters. Judge McLafferty fined a majority of them between $200 and $350, while waiving penalties for others due to extenuating circumstances.
Failing to respond to jury duty summons is punishable by fines up to $1,000. All 19 residents have been ordered to report for jury selection within the next 30 days.
“It’s not fair to the vast majority that are good citizens fulfilling their civic obligations,” Blair said. “We really don’t want to go out and find everybody. We just want to increase compliance.”
Through the new program, those who don’t respond to the initial summons will receive a second summons, followed by a delinquency notice. If the courts still receive no response, an order to show cause will be issued, requiring residents to show up in court and explain themselves.
Should citizens fail to show for a court hearing, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
Those with valid reasons for postponing or excusing themselves from service are encouraged to fill out the appropriate spaces on their initial jury summons and send it back to the court.
More information on jury service is available at www.sbcourts.org or www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jury.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Presiding Judge flexing his muscles...

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe if they had a little more consideration for people's time, more people would be willing to show up. Hill is the worst. He often has 100 + people and goes through the selection process painfully slow. Even if you have a valid reason you can't serve on a particular jury, you have to wait two or three days before you can state it.

Anonymous said...

How about paying people a little bit to do Jury service? The compensation is a joke, and if it isn't obvious already, many people rent in Santa Barbara and even a few days of not being able to work means not making rent that month.



Let the property owners do jury service! Because I can't afford to!

Greg Knowles said...

Go get em!

Anonymous said...

I've spent many a week unable to make serious plans, not knowing when my panel would be called to report for jury duty. I've spent many a half-day watching the introduction to jury-dom and waiting, waiting, waiting. Because of my background, I'll never be allowed on a jury. Can't some of us get waivers?

Anonymous said...

Come and get me..... forcing people into a jury box isn't going to help justice one bit. Another fine example of how another bureaucrat is completely out of touch with reality. Once again, come and get me....

Anonymous said...

I have seen it take over two days to select a jury in Judge Anderle's court...

I object to $200+ fines for ignoring the summons. As Presiding Judge, McLafferty needs to understand that lots of people in Santa Barbara have to work and can't afford fines like this. I can't see where a $200+ fine is going to make someone into a very happy juror, either. OVERKILL.

Ain't Misbehavin' said...

I sat in a jury pool in Santa Barbara at the same time Va sat two juries, completed two trials and got convictions for the two freeway snipers and all the while, I sat in a jury pool in Santa Barbara....zzzzzzz

PT in Ojai said...

It appears that most commentors regarding jury duty truants are unaware that along with freedom and democracy comes responsibility. Jury duty is a small price to pay for all that we enjoy here in America. Stop whinning and serve.
PT in Ojai