Franklin County Jury Commission Clerk Carol Monroe said for some people, the words, “Greetings to Prospective Juror,” can spark a panic.
“People have some misconceptions about serving as a juror,” she said.
With letters already in the mail summoning the next petit jury panel, Monroe and Circuit Clerk Bill D. Miller recently talked to The Missourian in hopes of clarifying and dispelling some of the misconceptions of serving on a jury panel.
Myth No. 1 — Jurors must be registered voters.
Names are drawn at random by the Board of Jury Commissioners of Franklin County from a master list obtained from the state court administrator, which gets its list from the Department of Revenue and the Secretary of State’s offices.
Monroe said although the list may coincidentally contain registered voters, people do not have to be registered to vote to be summoned for jury duty.
“I’ve had people call and say they will give up their right to vote so they don’t have to serve,” she said. “That really upsets me.”
Myth No. 2 — Jurors must show up every day for the entire six months of the term.
The term of duty for a prospective jury is six months, but that only means they could be summoned to serve on a case, Monroe said.
Based on past experience, Monroe said a juror should not be called more than three or four times during the period. And even if a person is called, that doesn’t mean they will be selected to serve on that jury.
Myth No. 3 — Jurors are often sequestered and can’t go home for days.
Most jury trials only last a day, Monroe said, and very rarely are the jurors sequestered.
The only recent case where jurors were required to be sequestered was a case in Laclede County that pooled jurors from Franklin County. That trial lasted a week, Miller said, but that is extremely rare.
Myth No. 4 — Once you serve on a jury, you will be called back often.
Once a term of service is complete, whether or not a prospective juror actually heard a case, a person cannot be summoned again for at least two years.
Myth No. 5 — People summoned for jury duty can send a spouse in their place.
Jury duty is nontransferrable. If you are called, you must be the one to serve.
“I get calls from a husband or wife sometimes who might say, ‘I can’t serve, but my wife is available,’ ” Monroe said.
Myth No. 6 — If you don’t show up for jury duty, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Monroe said people who don’t show up won’t be arrested, but the judge can issue an order for them to show cause.
“They may be asked to come in and explain to the judge why they weren’t here,” she said. “The judge might assign them community service or give a fine if they don’t have a good reason.”
Monroe said she understands emergencies and illnesses can keep someone from reporting to serve and advises people to keep the lines of communication open with her office.
“If people have a vacation planned or some other reason, they just need to call,” she said. “I will work with them, but they have to communicate.”
Monroe said the more notice someone can give, the better.
“Don’t wait until the last minute to call me and tell me you have a vacation planned,” she said.
Other Things to Know
Those who have been selected to serve on a jury should call the court the night before the case is scheduled to confirm the case will be tried. Once that specific date has passed, people won’t be asked to appear until they receive another summons.
As of April 29, 2013, no cellphones or other electronic devices are allowed into the judicial center. People are required to go through security screening when entering the building.
For more information, or to confirm a case will be tried, people may call 636-583-6308.