Jury Duty – What’s Your Excuse?

The dog ate my jury summons? Tourette’s Syndrome? Allergic to the courtroom carpet fibers? The dog will bark if I am gone during the day? SpaceX has stranded me on the Space Station? Dated one of the attorneys trying the case? Dated the judge? Dated the defendant? I am the Governor of the State of Florida? My dog is the Governor of the State of Florida? While some people have a legitimate qualification to be excused from jury duty, others do not.  Furthermore, some excuses may be more effective than others to get your fined and held in contempt of court. On the other hand, jury duty allows you to have active participation in the fair administration of justice. Most people would rather be fishing than to be in court, especially facing legal action against them—that is when they need their peers.  Jury Duty lets you help decide the fate of people in your community.  The Sixth Amendment gives us the right to trial by jury, and your service as a juror makes that right possible.  As a juror, you can change the outcome of a trial.   Read More

Superhero of Justice: Jury Duty

Qualifications for Jury Duty include the following: Breathing At least 18 years old Florida driver’s license or state identification Legal resident of Florida and the county Show up when you are summoned Even if you meet all the qualifications, you might not be selected to serve, or you may have a reason to be excused.  Either way, you still need to respond to a Jury Summons. Many people would rather be at the beach rather than in court, especially if they are the ones facing legal action against them—that is when they need their peers.  Jury Duty lets you help decide the fate of people in your community.  The Sixth Amendment gives us the right to trial by jury, and your service as a juror makes that right possible. You do not need a cape, but when you serve on a jury, you do your part to be a superhero of justice.  Thank you, Jurors.   Read More

Welcome to Jury Duty

Many are called, but few are chosen for Jury Duty.  You may be excused if you are 70 years old, pregnant, and the Governor or Lieutenant Governor (but you still have to request to be excused).  Otherwise, if you are a US citizen, 18 years old, have a Florida driver’s license or state identification, and are a resident of Florida you could be asked to sit on a jury. Jury Duty is an opportunity for the Judicial Branch to showcase legal procedure to the public.  It is live, reality courtroom drama, and if you are selected, then you have a reserved seat up front for the trial. As the Florida Bar points out regarding jury duty:  “Attendance is essential to the fair administration of justice.” Most people would rather be fishing than to be in court, especially facing legal action against them—that is when they need their peers.  Jury Duty lets you help decide the fate of people in your community.  The Sixth Amendment gives us the right to trial by jury, and your service as a juror makes that right possible.  As a juror, you can change the outcome of a trial. As a Florida licensed driver or a […] Read More

Importance of Jury Duty

Jury duty is not always glamorous, but it is an important part of our Justice System, both for the legal process and for the people affected by it. Jury Duty is an opportunity for the Judicial Branch to showcase legal procedure to the public.  It is live, reality courtroom drama, and if you are selected to sit on a jury, then you have a reserved seat up front for the trial. Furthermore, jury duty also lets you help decide the fate of people in your community.  The Sixth Amendment gives us the right to trial by jury, and your voter’s registration puts you on the list of potential jurors.  Registration requirements include:  US citizenship, at least 18 years old, Florida driver’s license or state identification, and a resident of Florida in the respective county. As the Florida Bar points out regarding jury duty:  “Attendance is essential to the fair administration of justice.” If you are not a registered voter in Florida, please visit the Florida Division of Elections at http://doe.dos.state.fl.us/voter-registration/index.shtml, where you can register to vote, check the status of your registration, and learn more about voter registration in Florida.   Read More

Remember to Vote

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” – Aesop Today is Election Day—remember to vote!  As a registered voter, you can make a difference in the legislative branch of government on Election Day…and you can make a difference in the judicial branch by sitting on a jury for your peers. Most people would rather be fishing than to be in court, especially facing legal action against them—that is when they need their peers.  A registered voter can change the outcome of a trial. While a voters’ registration is great for participating in political elections, it is also vital for the fair administration of justice. Read More

General Election Deadline to Register

October 6, 2014 is the deadline to register to vote in the General Election (November 4).  To check your voter’s registration status in St. Johns County, go to the Supervisor of Elections website at  http://election.dos.state.fl.us/voter-registration/index.shtml. Of course if you are a registered voter, that also means you could be called for jury duty.  There could be worse positions, like being a defendant facing legal action and in need of peers.  As a registered voter, you can change the outcome of a trial and help decide the fate of people in your community. Read More

Your Vote Counts Beyond Election Season

Did you miss the Primary?  About 85% of St. Johns County’s registered voters did.  They may not have cast their ballot on Election Day, but they are still signed up to serve on a jury. Most people would rather be fishing than to be in court, especially if facing legal action against them—that is when they need their peers.  As a registered voter, you can change the outcome of a trial and help decide the fate of people in your community. It is not too late to vote in the General Election later this fall, but you need to have your registration completed by October 6, 2014.  For more information and to register to vote in St. Johns County, go to http://election.dos.state.fl.us/voter-registration/index.shtml. Read More

Sequestration During the Zimmerman Trial

In current events context, “Sequestration” is large cutbacks in government spending.  In the George Zimmerman trial, “sequestration” meant $33,000 to keep six jurors separated and secured from the media and the public. They came to St. Augustine.  Recently recognized by National Geographic and Fodor’s, St. Augustine is now a top pick as a jury sequestration destination.  They went to the movies, took in the Fourth of July fireworks, and toured Ripley’s. But their jury duty was not all fun and games.  They had access to cell phones restricted to once a day and only in the presence of a deputy.  They got weekend family visits complete with waivers not to discuss the case.  On top of that, those six people had to take on the burden of fact-finding using strictly the evidence presented.  The jury instructions were agreed upon by both sides, and limited the jurors to specific parts of the law—all to decide on a case where a family lost a child.  That was heavy compartmentalization. After 22 days of highly limited contact with anyone, who knows, maybe those six jurors will return to see the sights of the Ancient City…under different circumstances.  Jury sequestration could drive tourism. Read More

Out of the Sun in Jury Duty

If you think jury duty is bad, try being the defendant.  Most people would rather be fishing than in court, especially if facing legal action against them, but that is when they need their peers.  “Attendance is essential to the fair administration of justice,” the Florida Bar points out regarding jury duty. A jury is an exclusive club—not everyone gets called, and not everyone gets selected.  Jury duty is live, reality courtroom drama, and if you are chosen, then you have a reserved seat up front for the trial.  And you have the power to help uphold the freedom of this country by being a participant in the judicial process. You may not be able to get a tan during jury duty, but at least the courthouse is air-conditioned.  Thank you, jurors, for your service. Read More

Phoning in Jury Duty

Cell phones are all the rage in the courtroom.  From disruptive ring tones to jury misconduct, they can create a distraction to justice.  Just ask Brian Gale.   The Preliminary Instructions of the Standard Jury Instructions currently set out by the Florida Supreme Court specify NOT to communicate in person or via an electronic device with anyone about the case:   “In this age of electronic communication, I want to stress again that just as you must not talk about this case face-to-face, you must not talk about this case by using an electronic device.  You must not use phones, computers or other electronic devices to communicate.  Do not send or accept any messages related to this case or your jury service.  Do not discuss this case or ask for advice by any means at all, including posting information on an Internet website, chat room or blog.”  (The instructions also direct against use of resource material other than what is presented in court—so no, you should not Google something about the case in or out of court.)    Be careful about texting so you do not run justice off the road.  Read More