Most People Ignore Jury Duty Summons
LABELLE, FL. -- It's 8:30 a.m. at the historic Hendry County Courthouse in downtown LaBelle. About 50 people sit quietly filling out paperwork for the court, and others occasionally talking with fellow prospective jury members in Court Room number 1.
The two score and a half showing up today for jury duty, are only about 15% of the actual 350 jury appearance summonses for today, sent out several weeks ago by the Hendry Clerk of Court Barbara Butler demanding an appearance for jury duty.
Most of the 300 prospective jurors are presumably out and about around Hendry county, doing their own thing today, ignoring the summons for jury duty today, for each of their own reasons, defying the court's order. Some may be ill, some may have changed addresses without notifying the Driver's License Bureau, some had notified the court beforehand of legitimate excuses to not appear, but most are just simply ignoring the summons.
For those who do show up, they may be entitled to a token payment of $12 daily for duty should they be one of six chosen for a jury, if they are not also being paid by their employers while at court. For the other 300 not showing up, maybe they have a job and just can't afford to take a day off. Or maybe they're just lazy.
Circuit Judge Christine Greider, who greeted the jury pool this morning before selection started, is aware that many just simply don't show up for jury duty and gave her heartfelt thanks to those who did show up.
Greider explains that she had seven trials set for today but as is typical, defendants make last-minute plea agreements to avoid a trial, and she said six of the seven defendants pled guilty this morning, leaving only one defendant who wanted to proceed to trial.
Done. By about noon, six jurors are chosen after a bit of attorney questioning of some of the jury pool. Greider dismisses the remainder, and takes a short break, after again thanking those not chosen and dismissing them from further obligation this week.
Citizens 18 years and older are likely to get about one jury duty summons a year under the current circumstance of most people not bothering to show up. That's assuming you actually have shown up at court for jury duty before. If you aren't required to come in or ignore the summons, expect a summons every few months. The court must send out many hundreds of letters for each trial in order to get 40 to 50 to show up, for which six to seven jurors must be selected.