Judge to go after jury duty scofflaws
Detroit – — Thinking about tossing that notice for jury duty? Think again.
Not answering a jury summons could have serious consequences and even land residents in jail, cautions a local judge.
Chief Third Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Colombo Jr. is advising county residents who get a summons for jury duty to show up unless they want to possibly spend some time in the slammer.
“We want the message to get out there that jury service is important,” Colombo said Monday.
“There is a possible sanction if you don’t answer your summons.”
The issue of Wayne County residents not answering requests for jury duty has become a widespread problem, Colombo said. From November 2013 through mid-September 2014, about 46 percent of the 78,639 potential jurors failed to obey their summons and show up for jury duty.
About 200 people who have received repeated jury duty notices will be called in for a show cause hearing Oct. 30 to tell why they have ignored the notices, Colombo said. Court orders for those Wayne County residents being hauled into court for the hearing are expected to show up in their mailboxes Oct. 1.
“We’re going to give them an opportunity to explain,” Colombo added. “Or they will face a fine or perhaps incarceration.”
The issue of diversity among jurors is one that is taken seriously in Wayne County, Colombo said.
He added the county’s jury pools are in line with the county’s ethnic and racial demographics. African-Americans make up 39.4 percent of Wayne County’s population and the county’s jury pools are from 36 percent to 42 percent African-American, he said.
Colombo said no citizen, under Michigan law, can be fired from their job for serving on a jury.
The first day of jury duty pays $25 and citizens are paid $40 a day for each day they serve afterward.
The judge will have a news conference on the matter at 10 a.m. Oct. 24.
Jurors protect the integrity of the court system, Colombo said.
“It’s the purest form of government because jurors are not subject to political considerations or contributions,” the judge added. “When you’re sitting as a jury you’re sitting as a judge.
“Jury service is to protect the rights of a defendant in a criminal case and the parties in a civil case from an unfair prosecutor or lawyer and/or the possible prejudice of a judge. Jurors represent the thinking of the community. It is a service that should command the pride and pleasure of every citizen and should not be avoided.”