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Deputies will personally serve jury duty notices starting in January

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 | Views: 7885

Deputies will personally serve jury duty notices starting in January

AMITE—Starting next month, that knock at the door may just mean you’ve been assigned jury duty.

21st Judicial District Court Chief Judge Robert H. Morrison announced this week that due to the increasing problems judges are having in assembling jury pools, the tri-parish court system will now utilize sheriff’s deputies to personally serve individuals who have been selected for jury duty.

“By law the judges in a district may specify the manner of service of jury subpeonas,” Morrison said in a prepared statement given to last week.

In the past, jury service has been delivered via mail. While that method offers some cost savings to the court, it does not provide a “means to determine whether the subpoena was actually served,” Morrison said.

The result? Judges have begun “experiencing increasing problems assembling jury pools of sufficient size to provide enough jurors to handle criminal and civil jury trials in the district.”

“It seems probable that many citizens who have received jury subpoenas have not complied with them,” Morrison said.

Under the new system, individuals who are served but do not appear for jury duty “may be summoned to court to explain their absence,” the Chief Judge said, noting that it is possible to be cited for contempt of court for failing to appear for jury duty.

Morrison said the judges realize that jury duty can create a disruption or an inconvenience for citizens, but “having pools of jurors is essential to the administration of our justice system.” He also noted that there are a few situations in which a potential juror may seek an exemption from jury service, such as for individuals who are 70-years-old or older. Jurors who have a scheduling conflict can also be granted a one-time postponement to defer their service to a future date within the six month window. Additionally, every jury service appointment includes a phone number for potential jurors to call the afternoon before they begin their term, because cases frequently settle or defendants  choose to plead their case before the trial begins.

The 21st Judicial District Court serves Tangipahoa, St. Helena, and Livingston Parishes. The change to personally-served jury duty subpoena service will begin in January throughout the three-parish jurisdiction.
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