Jury duty worries

August 27, 2009
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Jury duty: it’s not glamorous, it can be time-consuming, and perhaps even boring, but it’s part of our duty as American citizens. A lot of people dread not only the process of being selected but possibly being seated for a long trial.

Being seated for a trial means you aren’t at work, which means you are losing money. What you get paid to serve doesn’t make up the difference, and some companies don’t pay you while you are gone. Many people worried about this before, but with the current economic situation, I wonder how many people try to dodge jury duty now

My “Lawyers” desk calendar had an entry this month of an actual jury selection transcript in which a potential juror told the court he didn’t want to serve because he didn’t want to be away from his job for too long. The court asked if they could do without him at work, to which the potential juror replied “Yes, but I don’t want them to know it.”

It’s a legitimate fear I’m sure a few people called to serve have: they don’t want their boss to find someone else to do their job while they are gone. If the company is looking to downsize, that could show that potential juror is expendable. Perhaps the potential juror is a small-business owner and has no one else to run the business.

You can’t be fired for serving on a jury, but perhaps down the road, when layoffs are coming, the boss will remember that someone else could do that juror’s job.

I’ve read a few articles this summer about people putting off vacations for the same reason.

Lawyers, how often are potential jurors asking to be excused because they are worried about getting time off or losing their jobs? Has it increased recently because of the economy?
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  1. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

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  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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