Curious About Being Picked For Jury Duty

By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV

I am just curious about the process of selecting citizens for jury duty when the website states they are “randomly chosen” and for the past 21 years I have been chosen every three years almost to the exact same date!  I have many friends who have never been summoned for jury duty.  Why not give them a chance to be part of the system and fulfill their civic obligation? – Joan, Holden

The court system gets that question a lot, including from us.  David Wade and I did a story about this some time ago.  You can read it here.

The system gets your name from the annual census your city or town conducts.  (It doesn’t come from voter lists, as some people think).  And what happens is, even if you serve on a jury, 3 years later your name goes back into the pool, so you have the same statistical chance of being picked (again) as someone who has never been picked.  In effect, prior service doesn’t matter.

If you live in a county that has a busy court system, like Suffolk, you have an even greater chance of being chosen because the need for jurors is greater.

What do you think of this system?  Should you go back in the pool after 3 years, or maybe there should be a system where you either get a longer break, or you don’t get picked again until everybody else has a turn.

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  • tsal

    I think a large portion should come from citizens receiving any sort of subsidy from the state. I suspect that it could be longer than three years also. One thing that needs to be fixed is the reimbursement. If you are employed your employer pays a certain amount and then the state pays you. However, if you are self employed you get nothing. Self employed people do not have sick time or vacation time to fall back on and if the person is a sole proprietor they don’t even have someone to cover their business while serving.

    • blackbear1

      Did you say those recieving a subsidy from the state? Good one!! Maybe we should have jury pools consist of people that spend half their time blogging, like you. Going on vacation, see you in a couple of weeks.

  • Italo

    I’m waiting for the day that someone possibly challenges their being summoned for jury duty and brings it to the Supreme Court. Not for being summoned, which I understand is a valuable civic duty–but because of what in effect is sometimes a kind of discrimination: if one lives in a court-busy county like Suffolk as described in this article, and another individual doesn’t live in such a location and almost or never gets picked while others repeatedly do, in seems unfair (including for the self-employed as tsal above rightly points out). Also, maybe states could make there be more of an incentive for serving–after all, jurors wouldn’t have to serve if there were no defendants, suspects or trials to have to be called to serve for–maybe a tax deduction for money lost for the self-employed called to jury, or some other type of benefit that might encourage folks to even more enthusiastically appreciate and participate in the value of their input in this system.

  • Patty

    I would be all for depleting the census pool – giving all of us a turn for the experience of jury duty. I happen to be one of the frequent flyers in this Civic duty. I think it’s cool to be part of it. also thankful to be in the jury box and not on the other side of the gate.
    BTW, there are TWO types of jury duty – Civil and Federal. If you have served for a Civil case, and a month later gat called for a Federal case, you have to serve. However, the good news is – if you haven’t served in 3 or less years in a Civil case and get called for the FEDERAL jury duty first it completes your obligation for BOTH.
    If 2 yrs 364 days later you get called for a Civil case, you don’t have to serve, just give proof of your Federal case.

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