As a way to curb the growing number of people skipping their civic duty, Broward court officials recently created a special monthly docket to deal with people who fail to report for jury service.
During the past few years, court administrators have had to increase the number of people being summoned for jury duty because of the difficulty in getting individuals to serve.
Offenders can be sentenced to jail, although most will walk away with a fine. However, since contempt of court is a criminal charge, you may be left with a criminal record.
Jury duty is not optional. When you are summoned for jury duty, you must appear or else face possible contempt of court charges.
Many people can get out of jury duty due to hardships, such as child care or financial burdens. However, you must make arrangements prior to attending jury duty. Your juror summons will have instructions on how to inform the Court ahead of time about hardships. Otherwise, you must appear and address any reasons for disqualification on the day of your scheduled jury service.
As a trial attorney, I understand the need for jury pools. A jury is a cross-section of our community and every citizen is guaranteed the right to a fair trial by a jury of their peers. Attorneys for both sides are given the right to question members of the jury pool in order to find the best jurors for their case.
By failing to appear for jury duty, the right to a jury trial is diminished.