Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jury Duty Déjà vu No It’s Reality

I am angry that I have been called to Jury Duty yet again. It just frustrates me that the process is so broken.

In the last 32 months I’ve been called six times. You may think that is not too much, averaging about one summons per six months. Well I am not even counting the ones that I was called for before that.

May 2005, I was excused for childcare hardship due to being a stay at home mother (no daycare for the children).

June 2006, excused for childcare hardship due to being a stay at home mother (no daycare for the children).

August 2006, just after getting the letter for the above hardship, called again, which made no sense to me—did they not know they had just excused me weeks earlier? This one was also excused for hardship due to being a stay at home mother (no daycare for the children).

February 2007, I sent in a letter of hardship. What I received back was a postponement for an August 2007 date. I had no recourse at that time to ask again for the hardship. I gave up and said I’d do the Jury Duty, planning to try get out of it in person with the (very real) childcare hardship if and when I was called to be interviewed to be on a Jury.

May 2007, called again with a July 2007 date, now that is two open dates for the future. I wrote to explain I had an August 2007 appearance date plus gave the hardship for childcare. I was excused for hardship due to being a stay at home mother (no daycare for the children), but I was not excused for "already being assigned to Jury Duty in the future".

In August 2007, I did serve, did have to go to the building, did sit there all day, was picked for a Jury, was interviewed and at 4:35pm was excused on a hardship for childcare. Note all the other jurors’ day ended at 4:30pm. I was put through the whole drill with the group briefing and then the individual briefing. Having served this date legally exempts me from being called until after 8/31/2010.

February 2008, I’ve been called again, despite me being exempt until 8/31/2010. Today I am spending time filling out paperwork, copying the old forms and sending this proof in.

I don’t know what is going on with the records of the government here. It is a mess.

The ones that keep duplicating each other are all in the same name and address. Some of the older ones had typo’s on my name or were using my maiden name, which the government says can trick their system and cause people to be called numerous times.

I am also annoyed as in this state there is no exemption given for homeschooling parents. I am with my kids all day. I have no daycare. I am their teacher, their educator. If I were to not be here it would not just be that they’d be missing a ‘babysitter’ but they would not be educated, a larger problem if you ask me. Even the attorney who interviewed me said he could not give me a hardship for homeschooling, but that he could give me a hardship for childcare reasons. Whatever. I give up on the logic. It is the government I was dealing with.

Oh and shall I mention also for that case, I had conflicts of interest with the case, with a person I personally know being named in a malpractice lawsuit and also it being for a medical condition that is controversial due to ethical reasons? And that I’ve worked in the medical field and for a medical insurance company and have an opinion and a bias regarding the medical procedure performed. Religious issues were also involved and if I held certain religious views it could have swayed my decision as a juror, against the plaintiff. However they didn’t take any of that as the reason to exempt me, they used the ‘childcare hardship’.

The homeschooling is also why other than that one day, I don’t want to rely on other relatives to care for my children if I were picked on a Jury. I can’t imagine my mother or my mother-in-law being able to care for my kids all day long let alone administering their homeschooling lessons. Actually they would not be able to physically get them to their various paid classes and events, it would be impossible. My mother has a big fear of driving to places that she hadn’t yet been to, and my disabled mother-in-law’s driving is very limited. The Jury I was last interviewed for was estimated to be a three week long case. Jury Duty for a homeschooling mother just doesn’t work, it is more of a hardship than a regular ‘child care’ issue if you ask me.

Seeing how the government handles Jury Duty scares me to think that some politicians in this country are trying to change over to socialized medicine run by the government. If that ever happens we will really have a problem, just like some of the other countries with socialized medicine are having now.

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Christina said...

I just completed jury duty myself; my partner works from home (and was in a slow spot) and so it was more manageable for us to arrange service. I wanted to say that for me, those conflict of interest and other issues you brought up didn't come up during the hardship phase of the jury process. That part happened immediately we all came before the judge. The rest of came after some of us were empaneled, during jury discovery. I was excused by one of the attorneys on the second day because of my background, others were excused by the judge for different reasons.

I have heard that this repetitive jury duty problem is caused by states using many different databases for their selection process: DMV, voter registration, property tax, etc. My partner is a database consultant and I know it would be SO easy for that part of the system to be renovated.

On the flip side of the problem, my parents have lived in Spokane WA for 21 years, have been in all those systems for that time, and have NEVER been called.

Kaylynn's Mommy said...

Honey, I am so sorry!