Jury Duty

In May I received a summons for jury duty in the mail. It listed my term of service beginning June 30th and to run for two consecutive weeks. I followed the instructions which were to go online to the county court website, enter my juror number and fill out the questionnaire which would determine my eligibility to serve as a juror. When filling out the questionnaire I answered the question about disability and accommodations by explaining that I had left side deafness and would need to be seated so that my right ear was toward the person who was speaking. Also that any background noise might interfere with my ability to hear what was being said. I swore that I had answered all questions honestly and hit the submit button.

From there my instruction were to either go to the website or call the phone number given, after 5:00 PM on the evening before my first day of service, to see if I needed to report the following day for duty or to receive further instructions (when to call again).

It wasn’t until about two weeks ago that it occurred to me that I should have reported my having Parkinson’s Disease. I am not sure why I didn’t think of it at the time. It’s likely because I have not really let PD stop me from doing anything that I normally do, but perhaps it’s because PD is making me more forgetful. (LOL) I am not sure that the PD would effect my ability to serve as a juror but the tremors, that make me look like I am shaking my head, could be misinterpreted by others as some type of response rather than the involuntary movement that they are. The other thing that might become an issue while serving on a jury is that prolonged sitting causes my leg muscles to tighten up, so standing and walking become difficult after sitting for too long.

At this point I decided not to bother contacting them with the additional information, but just to wait to see how things played out. I imagined the worst thing that could happen was that I could be charged with perjury for lying on my questionnaire but I figured the PD might be an acceptable defense.

The other thing that had been on my mind since receiving the summons, of course, is the pandemic. Are the courts really holding jury trails and if so how are they practicing social distancing? I had hoped they would let me know ahead of time what would be expected of me. Last Wednesday they did – I received an email with the following message.

“Juror,

No jurors will be called for your entire jury term. Therfore, you are excused from jury service. Your jury service is complete, we thank you for your service.

Thank you,
St. Clair County Jury Clerk”

Although I’m not really sure if the courts in our county are holding jury trails at this time, I am thankful that I will not have appear and explain myself.

I have never served on a jury and have only been summoned one other time in my life. I do feel that, while I may have some difficulties that would prevent me from serving, if selected I would have been an impartial juror and been able to perform this civic duty well.

Have you ever served on a jury? Feel free to share your experience.

35 thoughts on “Jury Duty

  1. I was called once but got excused from the jury pool because my students were just starting to prepare for their international exams and the judge was cool with me needing to support them. I wouldn’t mind doing it once I’m retired:-)

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  2. The first and last time to date of Jury Service was back in 1982 – a real horrible case as well – two weeks and of the jury themselves all they wanted to do was get away from there and were not that bothered about the morals of the case itself. I found the service fine, the case terrible and the jury just awful!

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  3. I have been called twice in Michigan. I have a doctor’s note to excuse me because of my hearing. Randy has served and he did sit on a trial . I dont remember the details, but ask him about it sometime.

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  4. I always thought I’d be exempt as I am Canadian, or since I am a legal secretary, but because there are so many cases needing jury trials, I guess those are not valid exemptions anymore. Even attorneys now can get called to jury duty (they could not years ago). I got a jury questionnaire shortly after my mom was confined to bed and I said that as the only family member of my mom and she had recently been confined to bed due to dizziness, I had no one who could step in and be here and I got a “you are excused letter”. As I was reading your post, I was thinking they’d say you would not come back this year or anytime soon due to COVID-19.

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    1. I’m not too surprised that they would call you Linda because it seems that a lot of people will do whatever it takes to get excused from serving. I have always wondered what source they use as a pool of people. Is it the secretary of state (drivers license, state ID, voter registration)?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think they have less exclusions all the time Ruth. I can remember when we had temporary secretaries at our law firm, they were exempt as they would temp at so many different offices. Then they changed that as well. It must be info from driver’s license or state ID because I am a Canadian citizen do not on a voter registration list.

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  5. I have never been summoned for jury duty. Pete was though and he was chosen for a murder trial in Detroit. The story he tells about the case is like reading a John Grisham novel it even had a scummy defense attorney. LOL And a guilty verdict,

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      1. I can only base jury selection based off law and order, I think its slightly similar, we get called up, but unless you have a criminal record or some other things you are normally chosen to be jury, you don’t get asked about your bias as far as I know

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      2. The only thing I know about it here is that we have to fill out the questionnaire then be available to report if told too. The rest I have only seen on Law and Order as well. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Never done it. I think I was summoned once but it was back when I was in school abroad.

    I think back in May, they were hoping things would reopen in June and business would be as usual. Only things have gone downhill in some states…

    Glad you didn’t have to worry about explaining your PD.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A few years back my daughter was summoned but since she was a college student she did not have to serve.
      Things here have gotten better and most things are open with special procedures to follow. Perhaps the court has not come up with procedures yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I lived in my home state from birth to 35 & was never summoned. I lived in Texas for nine years & was summoned three times. I didn’t go as I was a student.

    I returned to my home state in 2011 and was finally summoned for the first time in 2016, shortly after my 50th b-day. Three weeks later, I guess charges were dropped or a plea deal was worked out. I never had to go.

    I would not want to be a juror in a high profile case of any sort. In today’s world, you could be a target.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first time I was summoned was just a few years ago. They say it is a random process so I guess it’s just the luck of the draw.
      If this had been a summons for federal court I probably would have went to the Doctor to get a note to be excused. One because the drive from my house to Detroit would have been an issue and two because the odds are better it would be a high profile case.

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      1. It’s only about an hours drive from us but this country girl work hate driving in that city traffic and would likely get lost trying to find the court house. Figuring out where to park would also be a nightmare.

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  8. I’ve never served but I’ve always been curious. I’ve seen it quote often in American TV and films with people getting called up, but in the UK I’ve only known one person personally who’s done it. I think they should have contacted you a little earlier than this as I imagine they knew for a while the courts wouldn’t have in-person jurors. I think many courts are doing only necessary individuals and no jurors but I’m not sure how that works! As for the PD, it was an honest mistake to not think to write it so I wouldn’t give it a second thought. I imagine if you get recalled you’ll probably have to fill everything out again anyway and then you can pop it on (if you remember 😉) xx

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    1. A lot of people I know have been summoned for jury duty but I am only aware of one person that I know that has actually served on a jury. I agree Caz, I would have thought they would have contacted me a little sooner knowing that they would not be holding trials but perhaps they are close to opening and just are wanting to have people ready when they get the ok to do so. Yes each time they send a summons it is required that you fill out the questionnaire.

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  9. I wonder why they even bothered with the summons, as I was under the impression most jury trials were not sitting at the moment due to COVID, and things are proceeding slowly via video etc. We have a slightly different system here in Canada. I was only called in once, but had to attend at the courtroom, along with 200 other selected people. The judge asked anyone who felt they could not serve to stand up and then he went up and down the rows one by one asking each person what their excuse was. I was sitting way at the back so I heard them all, health issues, caregiver issues, doctors appointments, no babysitter, unable to take time off work. I remember several people had hearing loss. There might have been 50 people left at the end, and they were then questioned by each of the lawyers for final selection. I had a letter from my boss that I could not miss work due to inability to replace me, due to staff shortages. I found the whole procedure very nerve-wracking, as the judge would stop and stare at each person and pause…..and then say, you’re excused. I guess he was trying to create suspense. It’s more lenient here in Canada than in the US, I’ve been told, but I think your PD would be a perfectly acceptable excuse. The case involved was a sexual harassment case involving a minor, and it took over 15 minutes to read the charges, after each charge the defendant pleaded not guilty in a loud and clear voice. I never saw his face, just his back. Later, one of my customers who was chosen, told me the end verdict was NOT GUILTY, but she found the two week trial very long and emotionally draining. The judge did ask at the beginning as the charge was a sexual assault if anyone felt they could not handle it they would be excused and probably 20 or so people left then. He also asked if anyone knew any of the people involved or the judge or lawyers and one person left, who played hockey with the judge! It was my first time in a court room and I found the whole experience interesting but stressful.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this Joni. I think the process used to be similar to that here but starting with the questionnaire seems like it would be more efficient. I have been told by others if you want to be excused because of some type of disability then you need to have documentation from a doctor. I didn’t feel like going to a doctor and having a hearing test done so I would have been willing to serve if they could accommodate my hearing loss. My right side hearing is very good so it’s really a matter of not having other noise except the person who is speaking. The PD probably would have been a bigger issue only because I have had people think that I was shaking my head “NO” or that I was shivering. I do think it could be distracting or misinterpreted.
      The summons came about six weeks before the term was to start so I think it was probably to be ready just in case they were able to hold trials again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have been called four times in my life. I’ve never been called since 2011 and my application for disability status though. I was selected once, and we waited all day, and then the case was thrown out because a piece of paper had been filed incorrectly with the court. The other times I wasn’t selected. To me? It’s good to do your civic duty and take your proper turn, BUT it’s boring as heck. I’d recommend taking a really good book, or some puzzle games (pencil or pen and paper ones), but these days with all the technology, maybe just having a tablet or phone would suffice.

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    1. Disability status shouldn’t necessary rule you out as a potential juror because they should be able to make reasonable accommodations for some. In other cases I can see where it wouldn’t be possible. I probably could have been excused because of my hearing loss if I had gotten a doctors note but if they could make those accommodations I would have been willing to serve. It would have to be a book for me since I don’t have a tablet or use my phone for internet. It does seem like it could be a long and boring process.

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