District Judges Issue a Warning; Report for Jury Duty, Or Go to Jail - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/20/05

District Judges Issue a Warning; Report for Jury Duty, Or Go to Jail

As two major trials are taking place this week, it's up to citizens like you serving on jury duty to give them a fair trial. Hundreds of potential jurors summoned each week. However, the Lubbock District Clerk's Office reports in recent weeks, about 42% did not show up. Judges now issue a warning to all potential jurors: show up for jury duty or go to jail.

99th Judicial District Judge, Mackey Hancock says, "If we continue to have issues with people not responding to jury summons, it starts a causation of a breakdown of the system."

Hancock has now decided to exercise his legal right. You could be held in contempt of court if you don't show up to jury pool after you're summoned. Contempt calls for jail time in some situations,  and or a fine of up to $1,000.

Hancock said, "Serving on a jury is an obligation to citizenship, that's the way I look at it. And I think we have a right to expect them to honor the system."

District Clerk, Barbara Sucsi summoned 200 extra jurors for the jury pool that included Callie Long's trial. That week, 300 out of 900 did not show up. Because of that, courts didn't have enough jurors for the 99th District Court. Sucsi said, "This does become a problem and it's an inconsistent pattern that we can't estimate, how many district courts or how many county courts are going to need jurors."

Before you report for jury duty, you're sent one a questionairre, which lists qualifications for exempt status. However, you have to fill it out and still report for jury duty to with your reason on why you feel you are exempt. Sucsi said, "What judges are saying now is if you don't contact them, they're going to send somebody out to pick you up and you'll come wether you like it or not."

A number of things qualiify you as exempt, including if you're over 70-years-old, you have legal custody of a child under ten and jury duty would require you to leave the child without proper supervision, or you're a student in high school or college. Otherwise, the US justice system says it's your duty to help those who need a fair trial.

Also as a part of the new rule, if you move you must report your new address so the district clerk's office has record of it. All this is immediately in effect.

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