Monday, August 21, 2006

They call it Jury DUTY for a reason

I take my civic responsibilities seriously, so when I was summoned for jury duty the thought of avoiding it never crossed my mind. I understand there are circumstances why one might need to defer jury duty; it even happened to me, once before. But when called, U.S. citizens have an obligation to respond, and it surprised me to learn that a sizeable number of people summoned simply don't appear.

If you want the benefits that come from being a U.S. citizen, then you should be willing to satisfy the obligations of one. And it isn't like the obligations are strenuous: remember, the draft doesn't exist in the U.S. any longer (for now). Where's the pain in voting? Yes, it takes time from our busy lives, but with the extra steps our various federal, state, and local governments have taken to make voting convenient (such as absentee and early voting), is there really an excuse not to register and vote?

This is usually when some moron says something about registering to vote just gets him on the list for jury duty. I call him a moron since he's another of those abusive citizens who want to take, take, take, without giving any more than his tax dollars. Like all you need to do to be a U.S. citizen is buy an annual membership!

Well, just for that moron's information, many localities no longer use the voter roles as the pool for potential jurors. In Manatee County, Florida, potential jurors are selected from driver's license registrations. If you're so afraid to be called for jury duty, give up your driving privileges!

Jury Duty in my community

Jury duty is handled differently for different locales. Manatee County calls all of the week's potential jurors together on Mondays, and each judge collects his or her pool of potential jurors from that larger pool. Those selected are told when to report for service, and those not selected are returned to the big pool. If you aren't chosen by the end of Monday, you're dismissed from duty for another year.

I was selected from my first pool, and found myself on a jury for a criminal case. I'll talk a little more on this next time.

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