Jury duty: a civic responsibility


Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse — Circuit Court for Baltimore City, where jurors must report for jury duty (Circuit Court for Baltimore City website)

By John Dingzon

Jury duty is part of citizenship. Every American citizen must participate in jury duty.

On March 9, 2018,  I received a jury summons from the Circuit Court of Baltimore. The court gave me all of the information that I needed to know in a letter I received in the mail. They gave me the exact date to report for jury duty and a list of requirements that are needed when attending jury duty.Included with the letter I received from the court was also my juror number and a pass to enter the court. There were also written instructions that I needed to follow.

The next day, the court called me again and said they had enough people to attend jury duty, so they didn’t need me. There is a limited amount of numbers that can attend jury duty each day (usually between 100 and 900). There’s a list of people who have to attend jury duty and they draw the line somewhere. The system randomly selects who has to serve.

When they think that they have enough people to report for jury duty they just immediately stop. The court also pays the people afterwards when they attend jury duty.  I was, of course, excused from the court so I could attend school for that day. However, the court says that they will send another letter to me again very soon and have me report for jury duty.

After my jury duty experience, I interviewed several adults here at Patterson High School who have attended jury duty, to get their point of view.

“When I was on jury duty, I watched a movie, sat, and read a book”, recounted Ms. Knowles, a secretary on the 2nd floor. “I went to Baltimore City Courthouse down at Light Street where I reported for jury duty.”

People who get called for jury duty spend a lot of time just waiting to be called to a courtroom. Many of them never get chosen to actually serve on a jury. Ms. Knowles wished she had been chosen. “I’d rather be there on trial, rather than sitting their watching movies”, she stated.

If you do not show up for jury duty after receiving a summons, there can be serious legal consequences. You may have to pay an expensive fine or even go to jail.

“I had jury duty a year ago, but I have jury duty [again] on November 7, 2018, and if they don’t come and get me then they’ll lock me up, because I have missed jury duty two times”.






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