A judge in western Montana got a little annoyed last week when twelve of 48 potential jurors summoned for a trial failed to show up or contact the court to explain why they should be excused. Another dozen did contact the court, leaving only 24 potential jurors. As the Missoulian reports, Judge Jim Manley then ordered the twelve to contact the court, provide their explanations, and write letters of apology. Five complied immediately; seven presented their excuses in person—he accepted three, but held the other four in contempt, with their $100 fines waived if they write an apology.
The judge’s comments—he’s a personal friend whose work as a lawyer I admired long before he took the bench last year—focus on the importance of jury trials, how revolutionary our system was when established over 200 years ago, and how it depends on each of us to function in a way that serves and protects each of us. Worth reading—for your fiction and your role as a citizen.
Now that’s the kind of “technicality” I like to see a judge uphold. Bravo, Your Honor! People are quick to demand their liberties, but when it comes time to meet their responsibilities that ensure those liberties, too many fall short.
My husband was called for jury duty while he was still a legal resident of CA, but living part time in MT. Yep, he got on the plane at considerable personal expense and showed up at the San Diego courthouse. Alas, he wasn’t chosen.
When I was called to Federal Court in Missoula, 120 miles away from my home, the court paid for a motel, meals, and mileage b/c of the distance I had to travel. Unfortunately, I wasn’t chosen either, but they still paid my expenses. I met my end of the bargain, they met theirs. Fair is fair.
It is my dream to someday actually serve on a jury.
Good for you, Deb! Don had the same experience with the US District Court in Missoula, when he was called for the Case of the Killer Bride. Like you, I’d love to serve, but so far, no dice!