Recently, fewer and fewer people are reporting for jury duty, a service notorious for people’s reluctance to participate. People have been avoiding reporting for jury duty for decades. However, a recent survey has shown that only 46 percent of all Americans report for duty when summoned due to disinterest and busy lifestyles.

Cities have tried different ways to promote jury duty. In Los Angeles, the court system’s mail trucks read “Jury Service: You Be the Judge.” In New York, all occupational exemptions to jury service have been eliminated so that no one can get out of serving because of their profession, not even judges. In Florida, they display posters of Harrison Ford in the movie “Presumed Innocent” as part of their jury duty promotion campaign. In Washington, D.C. judges now summon no-shows to court to explain their missed date or be penalized with a week in jail and a $300 fine. The same is true for California where sheriffs go to the homes of these no-shows and bring them to court.

Courts are also trying to add perks to the job to make it less of a burden. This includes raising daily pay for jurors, limiting service to one day or one trial, and reimbursing jurors for parking costs. At the same time, potential jury members are going to great lengths to get out of the service. Last month in Massachusetts, a potential juror was reprimanded by a judge and was reported to prosecutors after proclaiming himself a racist, homophobic, and a frequent liar to get out of jury duty. Such ploys are what make cities like Boston worried that they will run out of jurors before the end of the year. Only a select few of the population is eligible to be a juror. They must be 18 years old and an American citizen. Immigrants and college students are exempt from jury duty. However, the tighter rules being established seems to be working in urban areas at least. The no-show rate has declined from 56 percent to 39 percent in the last year. This may be a beginning of a turnaround to fill this much needed and important position.

For related articles visit http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/jury/faqs/faqs.asp and

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/07/27/reluctant.jurors.ap/index.html.

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