Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

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Latest post Fri, May 19 2006 4:08 PM by LynnM. 10 replies.
  • Wed, May 17 2006 10:46 PM

    Question [=?] Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

    I am just curious why I have never been called for jury duty. I am 53 years old, citizen born in the USA, work, pay taxes, never been convicted of anything, drive a car, own a home, have a phone, vote, etc.

    Actually, thats not quite true. I did receive a jury duty notice once about 30 years ago, but they automatically excused me even tho I didn't want to be excused because I had young children at the time.

    Thats the only time I've ever received a jury duty notice.

    I'm just curious how people get called for that.

    I feel like its one of those civic duties that I've never had the opportunity to perform.
  • Thu, May 18 2006 9:02 AM In reply to

    re: Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

    And I've been called twice in the last few years but haven't been selected to sit on one.

    It's completely random.

    Don't lose any sleep over it.
    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Thu, May 18 2006 9:55 AM In reply to

    Question [=?] re: Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

    Well, it does kind of make me feel invisible, but I won't take it personally.

    I guess mostly, I'd like to learn more about how courts really work. I've never been inside of a court. The only thing I know about court is what I've seen on TV, and I know thats never a true picture of reality.

    I don't want to get arrested or divorced, and I've never had to testify about anything.

    Is that normal? I'm just curious, what is the average number of times that average Americans have been in court, for any reason, over a lifetime?

    It seems like most people by my age have been in court for something, at least a divorce or adoption or to testify for somebody else, or for jury duty, or they sued somebody (or got sued) or something, some of them many times for lots of different reasons, even if they're not criminals.

    Maybe I just have a boring life, but I feel ignorant, like I'm a citizen of this country and its a part of being an American (the court system) that I don't know anything about.
  • Thu, May 18 2006 10:27 AM In reply to

    re: Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

    "I am just curious why I have never been called for jury duty."

    I assume you don't seriously expect people on an Internet message board to know to know why an anonymous person in an unidentified state hasn't been called for jury duty.

    "I'm just curious how people get called for that."

    The means by which localities call people for jury duty vary from state to state, and you didn't identify your state as is requested in the posting instructions.

    Most people are happy not to be called for jury service. I suppose you could call the jury service office at your local courthouse and ask about this and volunteer.
  • Thu, May 18 2006 10:32 AM In reply to

    re: Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

    "I'd like to learn more about how courts really work. I've never been inside of a court."

    Most court hearings and trials are open to the public, so you can go down to the local courthouse and sit in on some hearings/trials.

    "Is that normal? I'm just curious, what is the average number of times that average Americans have been in court, for any reason, over a lifetime?"

    I doubt anyone has such statistics. I'm in my early 40s, and I've probably been summoned to serve 10-12 times, and I actually was put on a jury for the first time last year.

    "It seems like most people by my age have been in court for something"

    I have a handful of friends who've been through divorces. I only know one person (other than clients and colleagues obviously) who have been involved in a civil case, and only two friends who have been involved in criminal matters (as juveniles). I suppose most people I know have had a traffic ticket, but beyond that and jury duty, I think most people manage to stay out of court.

    "I feel ignorant, like I'm a citizen of this country and its a part of being an American (the court system) that I don't know anything about."

    Maybe you could take a class at a local junior/community college.
  • Thu, May 18 2006 10:35 AM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

    Every area has a different method of picking juries. You need to find out what method your area uses to get an idea of the process and what the qualifications are for jury duty. That may give you an idea of why you have not been selected. A lot also depends on the size of the population in your area, how transient the population is, and how many jury trials are actually conducted in your city/county. If you live an area where there is a decent size population but few jury trials, there is a good chance that you can go years (even 30 years) without ever getting a jury summons. You can ask the official in your area who is reponsible for sending out jury summonses how the process works in your area.

    If you simply want to know what happens in an actual trial, you do not have to be on a jury for that. Most trials (criminal and civil) in the U.S. are open to the public. You can go to your local courthouse on any day when trials are being held and watch. For that matter, most court hearings are also open to the public, and you can observe those as well. If you attend a few trials, you will see that reality is quite different than the trials portrayed on TV or in movies. It is well worth doing just to get a better appreciation of our legal system.
  • Thu, May 18 2006 1:20 PM In reply to

    Ok [+0+] re: Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

    Go down to your county courthouse and sit in. Even people who have been in court often don't really understand the system or think they do and couldn't be more wrong...I have no idea if there is an average of how many times a person usually ends up going to court. I'm there nearly every Monday through Friday at least part of the day and sometimes feel amazed that taxpayers whose hard-earned dollars pay for the courthouse and staff don't take the time to go visit at least once and see where their tax dollars are going. That goes along with voted for county judges when they know nothing about them and couldn't ID them in a crowd of one....go visit.
  • Thu, May 18 2006 9:39 PM In reply to

    Question [=?] Since you mentioned it

    I am one of those people who couldn't ID any of our elected judges in a crowd of one.

    I never vote in judge elections because I have no clue how to tell who to vote for.

    That would be interesting to go watch them at work, at least the ones that are running for re-election.

    But how do you tell whether a judge is doing a good job or not? Whether you agree with them? Whether they seem nice? Whether they get things done fast?

    I mean - suppose a citizen did want to go watch a judge at work. I get performance reviews at my job. I get rated on certain skills, etc. How would a citizen (non-lawyer) do a performance review for a judge? What kinds of skills would a person who is not a lawyer look for, to even tell if they are a good judge or not?

    I hate it when people just vote in local elections for whoever plants the most yard signs.
  • Thu, May 18 2006 10:01 PM In reply to

    More [=+=] re: Since you mentioned it

    Use common sense and your gut instinct the same as you do when you meet people you don't know. Observe and listen. Does he treat the attorneys in his courtroom with respect? Does he show favoritism to one side or another. Is he rude to criminal defendants or pro per parties? Does he listen or is he more enamoured with the sound of his own voice? If you watch a trial from beginning to end, you will hear all that a jury hears and probably some arguments that the jury is excluded from hearing. I'm of the belief that if you spend the time really watching and listening, you'll figure it out. You don't have to understand all the jargon to get the gist of what's going on. If you did, we'd have done away with the jury system a long time ago. You can also talk to the attorneys that are there. I can't speak to where you are but if someone who was watching in court asked me what had just happened, I'd gladly explain it to them. The only dumb question is the one you didn't ask. We frequently have high or middle school students come in to observe and those are days I really enjoy. They ask very intuitive questions. Go and enjoy.
  • Fri, May 19 2006 4:08 PM In reply to

    • LynnM
      Lawyer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 3 2000
    • CA
    • Posts 28,248

    re: Since you mentioned it

    If you want to watch a judge at work, go to the courthouse and sit in a courtroom. You will be able to evaluate if they seem to have control of the proceedings, if they are courteous to the particpants. You won;t know if they know the law.
  • Mon, May 22 2006 4:43 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
      Consumer
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Jan 1 2005
    • CA
    • Posts 6,190

    Feedback [*=*] re: Why haven't I ever been called for jury duty?

    The way potential jurors are selected does vary from state to state.

    I think it helps if you have lived at the same address for a time. I never got a jury duty summons in college or for the first few years after graduating. It may be that by the time the county mailed a notice to me, I had moved from that particular address and the Post Office returned the notice to the county for that reason. Now, that I have been at my current address for some 20+ years, I seem to get these notices more often, although I have only served once.

    The last time I reported, the jury room clerk suggested that the way our name appeared on the voter registration rolls should be the same as it appeared on our driver's license. In CA, voter registration records and DMV records are the databases that they use to call you. They do run a computer match to eliminate duplications, but if your middle initial appears on your voter registration card, but not on your driver's license, the computer thinks you are two different people. I did go down to the registrar of voters office and changed my voter registration name to mirror my driver's license name. It does seem to have helped. I have gotten a couple of notices since, but I called the number the night before and did not actually have to go down.
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