The Richmond Register

Crime

September 2, 2013

Jury Duty: Fact vs. Myth

Misconceptions abound about key feature of American justice

RICHMOND — While many people may think getting called for jury duty is a serious inconvenience, Madison Circuit Judge Jean C. Logue always takes the time during jury orientation to convince them otherwise.

“Outside of being in the military, the only other time you are called to serve your country is jury service,” Logue told a recent pool of prospective jurors.

In our country, “ultimately the decisions are made by the citizens,” Logue said, and juries are a part of that process. In other countries, dictators and kings make those decisions, and those nondemocratic forms of government are “very real threats in our world,” she said.

Several misconceptions exist about jury service, and depending on which type of court case you serve on, your experience can vary greatly. The following is a list of facts and myths surrounding jury duty.

If you don’t register to vote, you will never get called for jury duty.

FALSE


In the past, jury pools were selected from voter registration lists, but that changed in the early 1990s. Now in addition to voter registration, if you have a driver’s license or file income tax returns, you can be called for jury duty.

“It’s nearly impossible to not be on the list,” Logue said.

The requirements to serve on a Madison County jury are you must be 18, be a resident of Madison County and a citizen of the United States and be able to speak and understand English. Felons cannot serve on a jury unless they have had their rights restored by the state governor.

You also cannot have had jury duty in the past two years.

The Internal Revenue Service, plus Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet and the Board of Elections supply the list of each county’s eligible residents to the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort.

When, for instance, a jury pool is needed in Madison Circuit Court, a request is sent to Frankfort and about 100 people are randomly selected by computer. If a trial is expected to be lengthy or involve the death penalty, a much larger number of people will be called.

After your service in a jury pool is completed, which usually lasts about a month for trial courts and three months for grand juries (they meet about once a week), you are exempt from jury duty for two years. Your service counts whether or not you get selected to serve on a trial jury.

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