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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014

Juries are an important part of judicial system

Saturday, May 3, 2003

Juror Appreciation Week

SIKESTON - While the right to a jury of our peers is one we hope never to use, it's one we should be sure to appreciate.

"It's an important part of the system," said Pam Glastetter, circuit court clerk for Scott County. "The scales of justice do not balance without the juror."

Juror Appreciation Week, which continues on through Friday this year, "was designated by the Supreme Court and the Missouri Bar Association," according to Glastetter. "This is the fourth annual juror appreciation week. They designate a time each year to honor jurors and remind the public of the important role jurors play in the judicial system - without them it just doesn't work."

To be eligible for jury duty, you must be 21 years of age; a U.S. citizen; able to read, write and understand English; have no felony convictions; and must be a resident of the county you are summoned to serve as a juror for.

As the court gets its list of names come from both drivers license and voter registration databases, Glastetter said not to avoid registering to vote just to try to stay off the list. "If you have a drivers license you're still going to be pulled for jury duty," she said.

Some professions - such are physicians, clergy and attorneys - are exempt from jury duty.

Each term, which lasts four months, Scott County sends out 400 questionnaires for the recipients to fill out and return, advising they have been selected as a member of the jury panel for the present term of the court.

"It's kind of like they're on call for four months, and they can be called more than once," Glastetter said. Additionally, some trials can last for three or four days.

The number of jury trials varies. Last year there were around 20 jury trials in Scott County.

If there is a jury trial, the court sends a notice to 40-50 people from the panel to appear on a specific date. "It's a random selection," Glastetter said.

When called to appear, jurors do receive a nominal sum from the court for their trouble, which varies from county to county, according to Glastetter. "Our county pays $18 if you are actually selected to serve, and $12 if summoned but not selected to serve, and 15 cents per mile."

"But usually the employee gets compensated by their employer," Glastetter added. "Who it hurts are the self-employed people."

Potential jurors are typically asked if serving will create a financial hardship. "They take that into consideration," Glastetter said. Additionally, individuals can request their service be deferred to another term when it wouldn't be a hardship.

Glastetter said to make things more convenient for jurors, the circuit court now offers a phone number they can call the night before a trial to see if the court appearance is canceled or if they actually need to appear.