Tag Archives: jury duty

Hoping to get the call for jury duty

I am not a weirdo. Really. I’m not. I do, though, want to fulfill a civic duty that always seems to escape me.

I want to serve on a trial jury.

My wife and I moved from Randall County to Collin County in Texas a little more than a year ago. We registered to vote almost immediately. We have renewed our motor vehicle tags in Collin County. The folks at the county clerk’s office know we’re residents of this county; so do those at the district clerk’s office as well as the tax collector-assessor’s office.

It’s just that whenever I have gotten the call during all those years — 23 of them, in fact — that we lived in Randall County, I always was told “don’t bother to report.” I’d get my summons. I would call the preceding day after 5 p.m., per the instruction on the summons. Then I would get told that the cases all had settled and that “all jurors” were excused.

Damn, man!

I once served on a grand jury in Randall County. The district attorney, James Farren, told us that service on the grand jury likely would disqualify us from any trial jury, given that grand juries serve under the direction of the state. The grand jury receives criminal complaints from the DA’s office and then decides whether to indict someone for the crime listed on the complaint. That was a marvelous experience.

Still, now that I’ve moved away I am hopeful that the court system in Collin County — whether it’s a district court, a county court at law or a justice of the peace — would see fit to summon me to report for jury duty.

I’ve always wanted to sit on a trial jury. Does my grand jury experience taint me forever as a “pro-cop” kinda guy? No. It does not.

Hey, I’m retired now. I’ve got nothing but time on my hands. I don’t work for a living, although we have plenty to do around our house. It can wait, though, while I would serve on a trial jury.

Too many people look for ways to evade/avoid/skip jury duty. Not me. I want to serve. Come and get me. I’m all yours.

Still hoping to serve on a trial jury

I am mildly envious of Jennifer Emily, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News.

Why? Not because she’s working and I am not. I enjoy my retired life and I trust she enjoys her gig at the DMN covering crime and the courts.

My envy is the result of Emily being selected to serve on a trial jury. She sat on a trial involving a murder case. Wow! That’s fascinating in the extreme, given that — as she wrote in today’s newspaper — she has covered more criminal trials than she can remember.

But she got the call anyway. She earned $6 for her first day in the jury box and $40 for every successive day.

Why the envy? I’ve never served on a trial jury. I want to do so in the worst way. Every time I get a summons, I call the office the day before I’m supposed to “report,” but then I’m told all jurors have been dismissed.

Damn! I have lived in five counties in two states since becoming an adult: Multnomah and Clackamas counties in Oregon; Jefferson, Randall and Collin counties in Texas. None of those jurisdictions has seen fit to seat me on a trial jury.

Emily’s story today notes that she believes her job excluded her from serving on a jury. She knows too much about the court system, she noted. I long believed I had the same cloud following me around during my years as a journalist in Oregon and Texas.

I know that my exclusion is mostly just blind, dumb luck.

Emily does note, though, that too many Texans are finding excuses not to serve. They seek excuses from the state to avoid service. She believes it’s their duty as citizens to sit in judgment of their “peers” when the call comes.

I agree with her wholeheartedly. “They want someone else to make the tough calls and take responsibility for punishing that person,” Emily writes in describing those who shirk their civic duty.

The way I look at it, good citizenship requires more of us to participate, not fewer of us. It’s much like voting. We don’t take part in elections for any number of reasons, leaving these decisions to people we don’t know . . . and those who might not share our view of where government should take us.

Jury duty is a big deal. Except that it doesn’t require too much of us.

I’m glad to see that Jennifer Emily got the call to serve. I am delighted to see that she answered that call.

I’m still waiting for my chance.

Yes, I also want to be called for jury duty

A member of my family is a happy young woman. Why? She’s been called for jury duty in Oregon.

She has been summoned to appear for jury duty in a Circuit Court, which is the highest level of trial court in Oregon. She is thrilled. I want to join her in her excitement at being called to perform a vital act of citizenship.

I long have bemoaned my own lack of jury-duty experience. Of course, I am much older than my great-niece.

I was called a time or two when we lived in Oregon. I never served.

Then we moved to Texas in 1984.

I have received summons while living first in Jefferson County and then in Randall County in Texas. But only one time have I been ordered to report. I did so around 1995. I went to the Randall County Courthouse, sat around for most of one morning and then we were informed that the litigants settled; we were excused.

Every other time has resulted in potential jurors being excused without even having to report to the courthouse.

My great-niece asked whether she is “crazy” to want to serve on a jury. No, honey, you are not crazy. You are a conscientious citizen of a great country.

I have been told that my job as a journalist likely disqualified me from jury duty had I been selected as part of a pool of potential jurors. Indeed, my wife once was chosen for a Jefferson County jury pool, but then was disqualified when one of the lawyers recognized her last name. He came back to her and said an editorial that I had written for the local newspaper suggested a bias on her part. Her response? “He wrote it. Not me.”

I’m retired these days. I am living in a county with a significantly larger population than any of our previous counties of residence. I figure my chances of getting a summons are reduced.

Rats! I would love to serve on a jury. Just as my great-niece asked: Am I crazy?

Still waiting for jury duty

I must be a weirdo.

I’m now 68 years of age and I have a item on my bucket list that I likely won’t ever fulfill.

I want to serve on a trial jury. I want to get the chance to determine whether someone is guilty or innocent of a crime. I even would settle for a civil case that would allow me to rule in favor of a plaintiff or a defendant.

It won’t happen. Not likely ever.

Over many years of living I’ve heard too many friends and acquaintances gripe about serving on a jury. They don’t have the time. They don’t want to be bothered. Public service? Let someone else do it!

Why, I never …

I posted a blog item in February 2009 that called attention to a local sheriff reporting for jury duty. Randall County’s top cop, Joel Richardson, performed his act of public service.

So, what’s your excuse?

I was proud of Sheriff Richardson.

Alas, I won’t be able to do what he did … more than likely.

In Randall County, where I’ve lived for more than two decades, I receive jury summonses about two, maybe three times a year. The county’s automated system allows summons recipients to call the prior evening to see if we have to report. Almost without fail, I call and the recording excuses “all jurors” until the next time we get called.

Then there’s this grand jury matter. I served on a Randall County grand jury some years ago. We met for three months, handing out indictments and no-billing people listed in criminal complaints brought by the district attorney’s office. The DA, James Farren, told us we could kiss any future jury duty goodbye, given our grand jury experience. Why? Defense counsel would strike us as being biased in favor of the prosecution.

Drat!

I know this sounds strange. I do wish I could get a jury summons, answer it, report for duty and then get selected to hear a case. Hey, the pay is lousy.

Then again, public service isn’t about personal enrichment … correct?

Jury duty won’t happen … more than likely

I don’t have a lengthy bucket list.

My final bucket-list destination is Australia. Haven’t been there, but my wife and I intend to make the journey — possibly sooner rather than later.

The to-do bucket list used to include things such as jumping out an airplane or bungee jumping off the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. They’re off the list now.

I do, though, want to serve on a trial jury. Sadly, I believe that bucket list desire also is fading away. You likely won’t see my backside planted in a seat such as one of those pictured with this blog post.

We returned this weekend from a trip to South Texas and I had a jury summons from Randall County, Texas, waiting for me. I was to report this morning, except that when I called Tuesday night the recorded voice told me they didn’t need any jurors and that we were excused until we got summoned the next time.

Drat!

This has been the story of my jury-duty life for decades now. I get the summons and then am told to forget about it. Once, not long after we moved to Amarillo in 1995, I did get a summons and was told to report. I did. We sat around for most of the morning and then the judge came out and told us the cases had all been settled. He thanked us for our time and then we left.

I might have cooked my own bucket-list goose, though, by accepting an appointment more than a decade ago to serve on a Randall County grand jury. These are the folks who are appointed by a state district judge and then told to report one day each week for three months. That’s where we heard criminal complaints and decided whether to indict or “no-bill” a suspect in a criminal case.

It was one of the most fascinating public service duties imaginable. I learned a great deal about my community. The most glaring thing I learned is that Randall County is chock full of people who do terrible things to other people, namely children. Many of the complaints we heard — and the detail supplied by assistant district attorneys — sickened us to our core.

However, I remember quite vividly something that District Attorney James Farren told us after we had taken the oath to serve. It was that if we had any thought of ever getting picked for a trial jury that we’d might as well forget it. No criminal defense counsel would allow us to serve on a trial jury knowing that we had served on a grand jury. Such service, I was led to believe, marked us as “biased” against a defendant.

Heck, knowing that I’d settle just for making the first cut and then getting struck during juror selection.

Alas, it’s possible that won’t happen, either.

I am not seeking the big bucks. Texas doesn’t pay its trial jurors a lot of money; for that matter, we didn’t get paid much for our service on the grand jury, either.

Whatever the case, I’ll keep answering the summonses when they arrive. My hope, while fading, isn’t yet dead.

 

Stop griping about jury duty

Jury box Photo by Jason Doiy 2-9-11 054-2011

My friends keep griping about getting jury summonses.

“I don’t have time,” they say. “Why don’t they just quit calling on me?” they ask. “Aww, what a nuisance,” some have actually said.

If only I’d get picked for a jury. My life would be a little more complete.

Alas, it’ll never happen.

I’ve long ached for the chance to serve on a trial jury. I get maybe two or three such summonses a year from Randall County. They usually come from the District Clerk’s Office, which means they could be looking for jurors to sit on a felony criminal trial.

Oh, I wish I could get the call.

It’s not that I consider myself a model citizen, or a paragon of civic pride. It’s just that I’ve long considered jury duty to be one of citizenship’s primary responsibilities. Someone gets into trouble, has to stand trial and he or she deserves to be tried by an impartial jury of citizens.

But almost every time I’ve ever received a summons, I’ve called the evening before and the automated system tells me all potential jurors have been excused.

Damn!

I did get a jury summons one time, not long after moving to Amarillo. It came from the 47th District Court. I reported that morning, went to the jury waiting room and then, well, waited for about three hours. Then the judge, David Gleason, came out and told us we were excused.

I was crushed.

That was when I was working full time for the local newspaper. A colleague of mine told me I’d likely never be chosen because the nature of my job — as editor of the opinion section of the paper — meant I knew too much about too many things to be considered “qualified” to serve on a trial jury. Well, that was his view. Not mine.

Then came the deal-breaker. I got a chance to serve on a grand jury. This is the panel that decides whether someone committed a crime that deserves to be prosecuted. We met several weeks and indicted dozens of individuals; we also no-billed many others, meaning that the complaint brought to us by the district attorney didn’t merit a trial.

However, before we started our work, Randall County Criminal District Attorney James Farren told us something that has stuck to me like Gorilla Glue. If any of us ever thought about getting picked for a trial jury, he said, we can kiss that notion good bye. It isn’t going to happen. Why? Farren said our service on the grand jury would label us as biased toward the prosecution.

Huh? But, I can be impartial. Honest, man.

Too bad. The DA said we were tainted by our grand jury service.

I’d trade places in a minute with those who gripe about getting a jury summons.

If only …

Disappointed once more in jury system

Call me weird. I got word last night that I won’t be called for jury duty after all. Drat! Let down … once again.

I get these jury summonses from Randall County District Clerk Jo Carter’s office on occasion. They tell me to be ready to report on a certain date. Potential jurors are given the chance to phone in ahead of time to see if they’ll be called. I made the call Saturday night and, sure enough, the recorded voice said “all jurors are excused.”

I’ve never served on a trial jury. It’s one of those thing in life that always has intrigued me. Even when the “job” paid $6 daily for jury service, I didn’t mind working basically for free. Texas trial jurors have gotten a pay raise since then. Don’t think I’m holding myself up as some paragon of public service virtue, but I’ve always considered it my duty to serve.

I want to serve on a trial jury, but I fear it won’t happen.

I received a single jury summons when I lived in Oregon, but I got excused because my wife, sons and I were set to leave on a two-week-long trip to southern California on the day I was to report. They let me off the hook.

Then we moved to Jefferson County, Texas. I think I got summoned twice there. Nothing came of either call. My wife once got picked for a jury and actually went through the process of lawyers “striking” jurors. She got struck at the last minute because the defense lawyer recognized her last time, associated it with mine — as I was editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper — and excused her from duty.

We moved years later to Amarillo. Not long after moving here, I received a summons to report in Randall County. I called ahead of time. Bingo! I got the word I had to show up the next day. I did. I sat in the jury waiting room for most of the morning. Then, shortly before noon, the judge came out and informed us that the parties had settled and we could all go home.

It’s been downhill ever since.

Every time I get the summons, I make the call and am told the same thing: Don’t bother reporting.

Maybe I should be happy that the parties settle, or that the criminal defendants have plea-bargained their way out of having to stand trial. It saves the county and the state money that comes out of my pocket.

However, I’m always ready to serve as a juror. If only they’ll give me the chance.