Thursday, May 20, 2004
Court Slates Series of Hearings for ‘Scofflaw Jurors’
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A series of hearings for Los Angeles County residents who failed to report for jury duty has been scheduled by the Superior Court, officials said yesterday.
A court spokesperson said that thousands of citizens who have not honored jury duty summonses are ordered into court every month, but that the court decided to publicize the hearing schedule for the next several months in order to encourage recipients to honor the summonses rather than face sanctions.
“The Court has no interest whatsoever in seeing these sanctions as a source of money,” Presiding Judge Robert A. Dukes said in a statement. “Our very highest priority is having the people cooperate with us to ensure that jury service is shared by all eligible citizens in Los Angeles County, as mandated by the Legislature. Sanctions are a last resort, but even at that late date, monetary sanctions may not be imposed if the person agrees to serve.”
Those who fail to comply face a statutory penalty of up to $1,500.
Under the schedule announced yesterday, hearings will be held every Thursday from June 3 through Sept. 23, except July 1. Hearings will be convened by Judge Alice C. Hill at the San Fernando Courthouse during June, by Judge Sandy Kriegler at the Van Nuys East Courthouse during July, by Judge Thomas White at the Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse during August, and by Judge James L. Wright at the Long Beach Courthouse during September.
The court noted in a press release that judges rarely grant requests to be excused from jury duty since the advent of one-day, one-trial service. “The ‘no excuses’ policy is now sending professionals, stay-at-home caregivers, judges and other once-excused citizens into Los Angeles Superior Court’s jury boxes,” the court said.
“Those seeking justice in the courts rely on the thousands of new jurors who report everyday to Los Angeles Superior Court’s jury assembly rooms,” the release quoted Judge Jacqueline Connor as saying. Connor chairs the court’s committee on jury service.
“California’s one-trial jury system enables countless citizens to complete jury duty in one day,” Connor said, “and while jurors think it’s a great arrangement, many courts face a worrisome juror shortage.”
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company