UnNews:Could-be jurors stand up courts

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Could-be jurors stand up courts

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28 July 2007


Prospective juror, moments before knocking the teeth out of a judge's mouth. The judge had demanded the juror do his civic duty.

ANYTOWN. USA - American courts are having increasing difficulty in getting people to comply with jury summonses. Their difficulty has led some jurisdictions to resort to unusual methods to obtain prospective jurors. In Sanford, NC, police distributed summonses randomly to Wal-mart shoppers. When one of them protested, the sheriff replied that she would be held in contempt of court if she did not report as directed. “You could end up needing a jury to try your case,” the sheriff warned her.

Only 50 percent of those who are unlucky enough to receive a summons actually bother to show up. “I’m too busy,” Bertha Buttcup told Unnews’ reporter Lotta Lies. “I have to scratch my ... I mean, wash my hair.”

Besides being “too busy,” many other potential jurors cite apathy as the reason they refuse to serve. “Why should I get out of bed to spend all day in a freaking courtroom when I don’t even bother to get up to go to work?” Chester Madison demanded.

Others say they never received the summons. “It must have gotten lost in the mail,” Owen Barfield said, “like my check to the IRS.”

“I’m a homeless bum,” Lyle Weggie pointed out. “I willing to serve on any jury where the charge is vagrancy! Otherwise, I have no fixed address. Let the bastards catch me if they can.”

Judge Betty Burke called her fellow citizens’ attitude “deplorable.” "I paid a fortune to get this job!!" Burke said "Democracy--and my job--is founded upon a jury of one’s peers," she declared, speaking ex cathedra from the bench. “Jury duty,” she pontificated, “is a civic duty, like voting or going to the bathroom.” "Besides, how can a judge even be expected to be offered a bribe if there's no threat of a trial? You need jurors for that!" she said pleaded. "I have bills to pay!" she said.

According to studies, even fewer citizens vote in any election than those who serve on a jury.

Around the country, other court systems have made other desperate attempts to attract could-be jurors.

In Idyllwild, NY, authorities offer prospective jurors a year’s free supply of gas if they are selected for jury duty. “To be selected, a person has to show up,” Judge Anthony Flew observed. The program, dubbed "Jury Duty--It’s A Gas,” has succeeded in attracting “half a dozen” people, mostly teenagers, to jury duty. Since teenagers are ineligible to appear in courtrooms except as defendants because they are under the legal age to do so, their presence in the courtroom has done little to solve the problem of chronic juror shortage. Unfortunately, the adults realized that the gas being offered was "judicial" methane.

“We’re thinking of substituting booze for gas, along with bar girls” Flew said. “That will attract the men. For the women, we'll just have to hang around bars, get 'em drunk, and lock 'em up in the jury room with the men. They say ‘sex sells.’ I guess we’ll see.”

In Pleasantville, FL, courts have taken a lead from U. S. military recruitment programs. “We’re offering $50,000 in Scholarships to hairdresser school or Monopoly Money to anyone who answers a summons and is actually selected as a jury member,” Judge Geoffrey Lyons said. So far, he admitted, the incentive hasn’t been much of an incentive. “A lot of people have a college degree and don't want to go to hairdresser school and some are too smart to accept Monopoly Money. And there’s often a good reason--mental retardation, attention deficit disorder, or behavior disturbances--that those who don’t have any degree don’t have one. Either they don’t want one or the can’t get one. Besides, diploma mills are everywhere nowadays, and they’re hurting our efforts, because the feds are willing to back a student loan to anyone who goes to any school, even to become a Notary Public]].”

"On a brighter note, some of the really dumb ones are showing up for the Monopoly Money. But too often want to vote without hearing the evidence. They say they know the case from watching the television program Law and Order. For some reason, the litigants are not happy with them," Lyons growled.

In Washington, D. C., prospective jurors are allowed to spend a week in the Lincoln Bedroom, where, reportedly, Monica Lewinsky would service them. “I have no interest in Lewinsky and why would I want to sleep on President Clinton’s soiled sheets?” Myrtle Bunion asked. “If they want me to sit in on a case, make it worth my while. I mean my vote is worth money, right? Same as a judge.” Reportedly, negotiations with Ms. Bunion are under way.

Lillian Gish, a very retired actress, is not daunted by threats of jail if she refuses to honor a jury summons. “They'll have to dig me up if they want me to serve,” said Ms. Gish who died in 1993.

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