Most People Don't Show Up for Jury Duty in Maricopa County

Statistically, most people who are summoned for jury duty in Maricopa County just don't show up.

Maricopa County Superior Court officials say they're enacting a "get tough policy" for the people who get a jury summons in the mail and promptly toss it in the garbage.

According to a court spokeswoman, the appearance rate for jury duty is about 44 percent. In April, for example, 9,958 jurors were supposed to show up, and only 4,427 appeared.

There are a couple of problems with that, in the court's eyes. First of all, the accused have a right to a jury, so a lack of jurors could make things difficult.

Additionally, the court says each jury summons costs $1.50 to the taxpayers, for labor, printing, postage, and whatnot -- adding up more than $8,000 a month, and almost $100,000 per year.

That's why the "get tough policy" comes into play. In March, the Superior Court's Jury Office brought in 17 jurors who failed to actually show up to their jury duty, despite all receiving three summonses. Judge Janet Barton found that 12 of those jurors disobeyed orders of the court and fined them. The maximum fine is $500.

Perhaps the worst part for the jury-duty-skipping people is that they were each ordered to complete jury service -- even the ones who were found not guilty of disobeying a court order.

People usually get a summons weeks in advance and can reschedule it, so the court doesn't seem to be too sympathetic to repeat jury duty skippers here.

These jury-skipping hearings are planned to be held four times a year, and it looks like they're only going after people who fail to appear after being summoned twice.

Check out the court's PSA below:

Send feedback and tips to the author.
Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley