An Indiana judge recently vented about low response rates for the summons to jury duty. In doing so, he hit on a pet point we make at the Jury & Democracy Project–that jury duty is like voting. Here’s a quick excerpt from the article:
To be an American citizen comes with two major responsibilities, says St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Michael Scopelitis: Voting and jury duty.
Voting, of course, is not mandatory, he said, but jury duty is just that – an obligation.
It’s this responsibility that Scopelitis and other judges said St. Joseph County residents are failing to comply with at staggering rates, leading to wasted funds and the inability to seat full juries.
“It’s been disturbing,” Scopelitis said of jury responses in the last year. “People are ignoring the one duty of citizenship.”
Just glad to see jury duty connected to voting. Our own book on this shows that serving on juries inspires higher voting rates, so it’s not just a hypothetical-legal connection. It’s a real one in people’s minds, too.
I can’t help but add one more note: There is one particular civic responsibility that often gets overlooked: paying taxes. It’s not a “proud and honorable” duty like voting or serving on a jury, but perhaps it should be. Whether one wants higher or lower taxes, one must concede that taxation is a necessity and doing so with integrity (i.e., not cheating the IRS or other tax collection agencies) is not just about ethics but also civic responsibility.
The moral of all this? While you can’t avoid death or taxes, apparently you can avoid jury duty. But you shouldn’t.