Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Jury Duty - Sebelius Leads by Example

Very few of us really look forward to a jury summons. Whatever season they arrive, it's a busy time at work. A jury summons thrusts irregularity into our schedule and our routine.

A lot of people look for excuses. "Can I get out of a jury summons?" is the most common cocktail party question faced by attorneys. Generally, the answer is "no", though, at least in Jackson County, you can fairly easily get one postponement for a good reason. But, after that, you need to serve. Only genuine hardship cases get out of it, and by hardship, I mean stuff like dying relatives and scheduled surgeries. Even then, a postponement is a more likely result.

Here's a filthy little secret - SOME politicians get out of jury duty. A phone call to a sympathetic judge who owes you a favor can, on occasion, convince the judge to give you a hardship waiver. I want to stress that 99% of the time, such a call will merely get you an embarrassed, awkward silence, followed by a suggestion that you call the jury supervisor and see what he or she has to say. Judges quite correctly take jury duty very seriously, so don't try it.

All that said, though, a Governor who formerly served as executive director of the state trial lawyers association and whose husband is a federal magistrate could easily dodge jury duty. A simple phone call to the right judge is all that it would take.

But, instead, Kathleen Sebelius showed up at the courthouse when she got her jury summons. A shining example of class and civic duty, she went through the same process as everyone else.
“I’d love to serve on a jury. I’ve never had that opportunity,” Sebelius before entering the courthouse. “I think it’s important that everybody take that civic responsibility.”
Kudos to the Governor - she took the opportunity to provide an example of how citizens ought to respond to their civic duty. As it turns out, she was excused from the panel because she knew the plaintiff's attorney, but they also serve who show up without complaining.

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