Monday, January 22, 2007

On jury reform

Another lively part of the VBA meeting was the discussion on improving the jury system in Virginia, and the liveliest part was discussion about whether it would be a good thing for Virginia to eliminate all exemptions from jury service. Currently, lawyers and judges, among others, are exempt from serving on juries. The proposal, as I understand it, would not eliminate the trial court's discretion to exempt persons on an individual basis for some kind of good cause.

This article from the Roanoke paper details what happened when a member of the Roanoke city council did not show up for jury duty. The circuit court issued him a show cause order. The article said, citing the Commonwealth's attorney:

"Although offenders can face up to 10 days in jail and a fine of $250, Caldwell said it's rare for Roanoke judges to actually find someone in contempt of court. Most often, he said, the person is let go with a warning -- after being admonished by the judge about the important civic responsibility of jury duty."

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