Jury duty: It is everyone's duty to serve
It seems unfortunate that those with the Tulare County Superior Court system have to send out 150 jury summons just to get a 12 to 16 member panel to hear a trial, but that is the reality the court system faces.
While most people will do whatever they can to avoid serving on a jury, it is our civic duty and one we should not only take seriously, but should look as an obligation for being a citizen of this nation.
Officials get names for potential jury service from driver’s license and voter registration rolls. However, of those 150 initial notices sent out, the court is lucky to see 50 to 75 people actually show up for jury duty at the local court. Most of the rest are excused for legitimate reasons, although we suspect several were just trying to avoid it. However, being excused does not get you off the hook for long. Your name is placed back in the pool to be selected at a later date.
Porterville area residents called to serve in the local court are lucky in that right now most trials in the Porterville Court are short in duration, maybe no more than a day or two. However, that will change with the new courthouse that will see felony and civil trials that can last a week to several weeks. And, as the local court gains more judges, more jurors will likely be needed. The good news is once the new court opens, Porterville and Lindsay residents will no longer be called to serve at the Visalia courthouse.
There is a penalty for not showing up. Judges have fined people, but most eventually agree to serve and like Porterville Judge Glade Roper, find the experience rewarding. Also, once a person has served they are excused from serving for up to a year. In most instances, that is longer than a year.
It seems some people are called all the time and others are called seldom, if at all. We should all remember it is our duty as citizens to serve and administer justice. And, you might just find the experience rewarding.