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December 2008

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


New Public Law Affects Jury Selection and Service

The enactment of Pub. L. No. 110-406, the Judicial Administration and Technical Amendments Act of 2008, signed into law on October 13, 2008, made the most substantive changes to the Jury Selection and Service Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1861, et. seq., in 20 years. Five provisions will affect attendance fees, jury summons, jury wheels, juror penalties, and ensure a juror’s right to serve without retaliation.

Supplemental Attendance Fee for Petit Jurors Serving on Lengthy Trials

After 10 days, petit jurors serving on lengthy trials may begin to receive a supplemental daily attendance fee, presently authorized not to exceed $10, in addition to the $40 per day fee. The time period had been 30 days. This provision becomes effective October 1, 2009.

Authority of District Courts as to Jury Summons

It is now left to the district courts’ discretion whether or not to take action against individuals who do not respond to a jury summons. In the past, challenges had been made when a court that sends out questionnaires and summonses simultaneously failed to call unresponsive individuals to court to show cause for noncompliance, as was required under 28 U.S.C. § 1866(g). It was argued that the jury, under these circumstances, was unlawfully empanelled. Challenges typically were not successful, but they required court action and lengthy litigation. This provision clarifies the process.

Public Drawing Specifications for Jury Wheels

District courts are no longer required to post separate notice of each drawing from the master and qualified jury wheels or to publicly draw names from the jury wheels. One general notice may be posted in the clerk’s office and on the court’s website explaining the process by which names are randomly and periodically drawn from the wheels.

Penalty for Failure to Appear for Jury Summons

Jurors who fail to respond to a jury duty summons or who willfully misrepresent a material fact on a questionnaire to avoid jury duty now face a penalty of $1,000—increased from $100—with the additional potential penalty of community service.

Penalty for Employers Who Retaliate Against Employees Serving on Jury Duty

Employers who retaliate against employees who serve on jury duty or who are scheduled to attend in connection with such service, now face a maximum penalty of $5,000, an increase from the previous $1,000 penalty. Courts also have the additional option of requiring community service as a penalty. The new monetary penalty is comparable to those in some state courts and to the fines imposed for excluding jurors from service on account of race or color.