The Virginia Verdict Review

Comprehensive and Informative Commentary on State and Federal Legal Matters

VA Judge Cracks Down on Absent Jurors

When you hear the phrase “service to your country,” what comes to mind? While I have never studied it, I would be willing to bet that the average American comes up with a  fairly standard list of professions and actions that meet this criteria.  Sparked by this familiar phrase, the mind quickly conjures up images of soldiers, firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and civil servants.  One type of service that constantly fails to make the cut is serving on a jury.  It seems that despite all the high school civics lectures we sat through concerning the importance of civic responsibilities, a growing portion of Americans no longer feel that a notice to report for jury duty requires the same strict compliance as it once did.

Apparently, this is exactly what happened last week in  Franklin and Southampton counties, where some 40 people received their notices and either didn’t appear or failed to return a questionnaire.

According to the Tidewater News, Circuit Court Judge Rodham H. Delk Jr. did not approve of these absences and took action to do something about them.  He scheduled show cause hearings for every single one of these potential jurors this past Friday. While Circuit Court Clerk Rick Francis said the judge didn’t intend to throw anyone in jail, Delk did have the option of finding them in contempt of court, among other penalties.

So let this be a lesson to all of us in the Commonwealth–when you are asked to report for jury duty, it is in your best interest to at least respond.  After all, if you fail to appear, you might still end up spending a day in court, only for a much less pleasant reason.

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