- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - Livingston County plans to impose court hearings, fines and possible jail time for residents who try to skip out on jury duty.

The crackdown is spurred by a recent increase in the number of no-show jurors, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus (https://bit.ly/1UPAjkl ) reported. Local statistics indicate that about one-third of the prospective jury pool have failed to show up to court in recent months.

“We were getting a very poor turnout of jurors. For the most part, we had to pad the request. If the judge wanted 40 (jurors), we’d call in 65 in the hopes to get 40,” court administrator Peggy Toms said.

The court in March sent a notice to 18 residents who failed to show for just duty at least twice in the past three months. Nine of them pleaded guilty, eight requested a formal hearing in May and one failed to show as ordered.

One of the people who requested a formal hearing missed jury duty six times between April 2014 and January.

Courts nationwide have found that many people fail to show for jury duty because they forget or they didn’t receive the summons, according to Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts.

Those two reasons were cited by the nine no-show prospective jurors who pleaded guilty when they were summoned into Livingston County Circuit Court in March. They were fined $50 and ordered to sign up for a future jury panel.

Toms believes compensation and the two-week period in which some jurors are called to serve might be other reasons why people fail to show for jury duty.

“They get the summons and think they won’t be at work for two weeks, and that’s not the case,” Toms said.

Studies show that following up on no-show jurors is one of the best practices for jury summons enforcement, according to Hannaford-Agor.

“The single biggest predicator was the expectation of what would happen if they didn’t show,” Hannaford-Agor said. “If they thought nothing would happen, they were less likely to appear.”


Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, https://www.livingstondaily.com

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