Judge makes jury dury no-shows watch a naturalization ceremony

Here's an editorial your citizenship students may enjoy

Good for Casey Rodgers.
The U.S. district judge got tired of people not only not showing up for jury duty, but not even bothering to inform the court. A recent call for jury duty was so sparsely attended that it could have been a close call on fielding a jury for a recent trial.

So she summoned the absentees to her courtroom Saturday — at the risk of a contempt citation — to explain why they failed to show up without notifying the court system that they couldn't make it, and requesting an excused absence.

She also sent the group for a tour of the Wall South veterans' memorial to remind them of the sacrifices others have made to preserve the American system of self-government, of which the courts — and jury trials before a panel of other citizens — are a crucial component.

The icing on the cake was a requirement for the group to attend one of two upcoming naturalization ceremonies, where they will see people who have worked hard to become citizens and take up the duties of such — including jury duty.

Rodgers acted in line with other area judges who have taken similar steps. In 2000, Senior U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier ordered 20 lax juror candidates to report to the Wall South; in 2008 Circuit Judge Gary Bergosh lectured about 50 no-shows about the importance of jury duty.

Frankly, the courts are probably too easy on prospective jurors. It isn't that hard to get out of jury duty with anything resembling a reasonable excuse. But while in today's busy world jury duty can often seem like an imposition, there are very few excuses for not even bothering to phone in with the reason why you want to opt out.

Self-governance is just that. It requires our participation. Without people willing to uphold their responsibilities, the system withers away, and with it so do our freedoms.

from The Pensacola News Journal 9/14/2010: