No-Show Jurors Could Pay the Price

By: Ilyssa Trussel
By: Ilyssa Trussel

Wilson Barnes has never been called for jury duty, but he says if he were he'd definitely show up.

"It's just like serving in the military. It's an obligation and a responsibility that we citizens have."

But not everyone is as committed. In Florida only about three out of 10 jurors show up for duty.

"If you extrapolate that out in thousands, that's a lot of people," said Circuit Judge Tom Bateman.

A year and a half ago the Florida Supreme Court appointed a panel of judges, lawyers and clerks to make suggestions on how to motivate jurors to report to court.

Bateman was the chair of the panel. He says the panel's recommendations include penalties: fines up to $100, community service, warning letters or contempt of court charges that could eventually lead to jail time.

"There has to be better collaboration and communication among the parties involved and make sure we have a sufficient number of jurors available on the day they're needed."

The group says they may not see as many jurors skipping out if conditions improved.

"Parking is a problem, day care is a problem. There are a lot of people that aren't paid while they're in jury duty."

Still, that doesn't matter to Barnes. He says no matter what he'll be ready when duty calls. The panel says it’s up to individual judges to decide which suggested measures they'd like to enforce.


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