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Note: The comments and questions on this page came from people who visited this website. Please feel free to send your comments and questions to Professor Brenner (brenner@udayton.edu). She will respond privately, and may ask permission to post your message on this page. No one's e-mail will be used without first obtaining their permission, and names and e-mail addresses are removed before a comment is posted. Starting in 2002, the responses posted to the site indicate which of us replied: The initials SWB mean Professor Brenner wrote the response; the initials LES mean Professor Shaw wrote the response. We are also putting the year down, to indicate when the response was posted. If no initials appear, Professor Brenner wrote the response.

Can I get out of serving? It would be such a burden to spend all that time on a grand jury.

 

Response:

     First, I offer no advice on being excused from serving. I do receive a fair number of questions on that, and try to remain neutral because of my personal reservations about being complicit in helping people to evade jury service. I believe jury service is an important public service, and I also believe that as an officer of the court I cannot help people evade jury service simply because they do not want to take the time.

     I would refer you to the "grand jury service" pull-down tab on the site; it takes you to links to FAQ and other information about jury service. The links address both state and federal grand jury service, though there are not links for all of the states. If you have been called for state grand jury service and do not see a link for your state, I would suggest you contact your local court clerk’s office, ask which clerk is in charge of selecting jurors, and then talk to that clerk. The clerk who deals with the selection of jurors, grand and trial jurors, should be able to let you know if you are eligible to serve or fall into some category of individuals who are statutorily excused or who can be excused from service.
Finally, as to the last part of your inquiry: Personally, I do not think it would be that great a burden; unlike trial juries, which sit every day, grand juries tend to sit for only a few days a month, at most. (The practice is different in New York, which has grand jurors serve a consecutive term of a certain number of days, after which they are excused; some other states may follow a similar practice.) In a system where you only are required to sit for a few days a month, serving on a grand jury should not be too onerous an obligation (though I can appreciate the demands on one's life). Also, remember that grand juries differ from trial juries in another respect, i.e., grand jurors do miss sessions. The rule is that at least 16 of the 23 grand jurors chosen must be present for a session, which automatically assumes that some jurors may be absent for a given session. The grand jury foreperson deals with juror absences, and you can find out more about how absences are handled from the Grand Jury Foreman's Handbook for the Northern District of Illinois - Eastern Division, which you can find here: http://www.ilnd.uscourts.gov/JURY/Grandjury.htm.  Let me know if you have any difficulty accessing it; it has in the past proven somewhat elusive, moving around on the N.D. of Illinois' site on occasion.

     And, post-finally, I actually think serving on a grand jury is an important task. I frequently receive e-mails from grand jurors who are honored to serve and who are working very hard to do the best job they can. If you are chosen to serve, I think it might be a good thing; you might actually find it an interesting, educational experience, and you would be contributing to the justice process. If you are chosen, I hope you will remember that grand jurors are supposed to be independent, are supposed to be the “voice of the community,” i.e., supposed to interject the common sense of laypeople into a justice process that is otherwise dominated by professionals.

SWB

2002

 

  

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