Jury Service – A Great Public Service

As a personal injury lawyer and someone who has passion for law, I appreciate the way our forefathers set up our judicial system, especially the ability to argue a case in front of a jury of peers.  Which brings up the topic of this week’s blog – the importance of jury service and why you should serve.

Citizens are called to serve on a jury every so often for the Kern County Superior Court and Federal Court.  The opportunity for jury service is as American as it gets — the ability to witness our system at work and to help decide the fate of a case based on the evidence presented.

Every day, over 1.5 million Americans perform their civic duty by swearing in as a member of a jury.  According to Jury matters, a project of the NYU School of Law, there are six compelling reasons to respond to a jury summons:

  1. No one is above the law
  2. By serving, you can help improve jury duty
  3. Serving on a jury builds community
  4. Jury duty makes better citizens
  5. It’s something that is uniquely American
  6. Jury duty is fulfilling

As a Personal Injury lawyer, I rely on thoughtful citizens in front of which I can argue my clients’ cases.  I rely on open-minded and fair citizens to hear the evidence I present. Then they can make their judgements based on what they see and hear. While some jury cases can last for a long time, especially criminal cases, jury service has a minimal effect on one’s life given the importance of service.  The call-in period for jury service is one week and trials take place Monday – Friday.  An average Limited Jurisdiction trial lasts four days while an average General Jurisdiction trial lasts three days, although trials can last from one day to several weeks.

There are a limited number of excuses for disqualifying oneself from service due to the importance that jury service plays in the legal system and those include:

  • Dependent Care: If you care for someone (a child or dependent adult) and limited child care is available and/or affordable, are a nursing mother or foster parent.
  • Deceased: The deceased cannot serve on a jury;
  • Employed outside of the United States.
  • Financial Hardship: Applies to an individual who is self-employed or not paid for jury service. If employed, you must obtain a letter from your employer stating that you are not paid for jury service.
  • Active Military.
  • No Vehicle / transportation available.
  • Medical: Must obtain a note from a doctor stating that a permanent or temporary medical condition prevents jury service.
  • Peace Officer status.
  • Student: For students outside of Kern County who do not come home for breaks

Detailed information is available at the Kern County Jury Services page at https://www.kern.courts.ca.gov/divisions/jury_services

Next time you receive that jury summons, take a moment to appreciate the importance of that invitation to our American way of life.  We never know when we might find ourselves arguing our case in front of our peers. Furthermore, participating as a juror will preserve our legal system and ensure that the rule of law continues to shape our nation.

Thank you for serving!

Should you need anything, contact my office and get the legal help you need today!


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