Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Courts to crack down
on jury duty evaders

Star-Bulletin staff

Residents who fail to show up for jury duty, even after follow-up letters, will be ordered to appear before a federal judge to "show cause" why they should not be fined up to $100, jailed for up to three days or both, said Walter A.Y.H. Chin, chief clerk of the U.S. District Court.

Hawaii's citizens are generally responsible when it comes to jury service, said Chin.

But of the 300 to 500 questionnaires sent out per quarter, about 15 percent do not respond at all after a second reminder letter, he said.

"It's a perennial problem in both courts," he said.

Until now no one has been penalized or sanctioned as called for by federal statute.

So the jury section of the clerk's office decided to put more teeth into the law.

The courts will follow up every six months, depending on the number of people who fail to respond.

"We don't want to come down as 'Big Brother,'" Chinn said.

"We're just reminding them it is their civic duty to perform."

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