Jury Duty: Your Civic Frustration

Nick Youngson

“You’ve been summoned.” Yeah – me and Jury Duty? We go way back. Well, not necessarily far into the past, it just feels like it aged me three years into the future.

Don’t get me wrong, being able to get the day off and relax while helping to decide the fate of an alleged criminal sounds like that scene in Ted 2 – where Ted goes to court to sue for his personhood. Although, the Lowell Superior Court showed no sign of a smart-mouth bear nor a charming Mark Walhberg – huge bummer.

But how can I relax knowing I’m missing class and going to have to make up for that lost time? On top of that, not knowing exactly when the trial will end means I may be missing more than just one day of school. What if I’m stuck in another McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial, the longest case in American history, lasting seven years! At that point, I should just get a degree in law.

The point is, college students should be among the few who are excused from being summoned.

Stephen Rykola, a business management and entrepreneurship double major at Suffolk University, was summoned to court in April. He thinks college students shouldn’t be summoned with the amount of work that fills their schedules.

“I also feel that we shouldn’t have to be summoned because of the amount of weight that a class can hold,” said Rykola. “Being summoned in college could severely hurt academic performance.”

As of now, piling your plate with classwork, jobs, internships and any other sports or club activities is not a strong enough reason to get out of jury duty. One way students can get out of it is how most of them get through the school year – procrastination.

Postponing your juror service to a date you are not in school is acceptable in all states. Call the number on the postcard sent to you to reschedule. Just remember, jury duty is a weekday position; there are no trials held on the weekends.

Also, make sure to keep up with the online portal. That portal is where you find out about cancellations and the status of your summons. This can save you from having to wake up at 7 a.m. and going all the way to court before realizing it was canceled because of snow.

32 million people are summoned each year. About 60 applicants are pooled, but no more than 12, and on occasion only six, are needed to fill a jury box.

If you are summoned, you better show up on your scheduled court date. Absence in most states results in a $1,000 fine. Go to the courthouse and meet with the judge. Explain your situation and hope they empathize with you. Sometimes you won’t even have to ask, some will understand. Having been pardoned in January right before the end of winter break, I speak from first-hand experience.

My closing remarks will highlight the wisdom my Lowell Superior Court judge shared as I was pardoned.

“Here’s what we’re gonna do. You’re gonna go to school, study hard, get good grades, get a great job and then I’ll call you to be on my jury. Okay?”

Your honor, say no more.