Jury duty isn’t so bad

There it was. Tucked covertly among the utility bills and junk mail, two words I’d hoped never to see jumped out at me: “Jury Summons.”
Knowing I probably couldn’t get out of it, I decided to do the next best thing: delay it.

If you receive a Clark County court summons, you are allowed to defer jury duty for up to 90 days. However, once you have deferred once, don’t even think about trying to get out of the second date unless you suddenly find yourself with a bad case of swine flu or the bubonic plague.

Internet option
A helpful Web site, ejuror.co.clark.nv.us, allowed me to log in using my nine-digit juror ID number (located in the top right corner of the summons). I opted to delay 90 days, and my appointed date was moved from Jan. 4 (which was the date of the shooting at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse) to April 2, Good Friday. If you choose to defer your service, look for a new summons to arrive by mail about a month before your new date.

Upon receiving your summons, you will be asked to call to confirm your scheduled date. You also can confirm it using the ejuror Web site, which will ask you to fill out a short questionnaire about your age, marital status and profession. If you need to reschedule or obtain authorization to be excused from service (good luck with that), you will have to call the number on the summons or visit the ejuror Web site at least five business days before your reporting date.

For the record, I didn’t read my summons thoroughly when I received it and didn’t confirm my scheduled date online until the Monday evening before the Friday I was due to serve. Nothing bad happened.

Once you have received your summons and confirmed your date, you won’t need to do anything else until the night before you are due to serve. Your summons will instruct you to call a number (different from the one you call to confirm your date, just to keep you on your toes) after 6 p.m. the night before your reporting date. You will be instructed to listen for your six-digit badge number (different from your juror ID number, but also located in the upper right corner of your summons). If you hear your badge number, be sure to listen to the end of the message so you can find out when you will need to report.

Reporting for duty
I was instructed to arrive by 7:30 a.m. Friday at the Regional Justice Center, 200 Lewis Ave. On the back of your summons, you’ll find a lot of information about where to park (the court pre-pays for parking at the Fremont Street Experience parking garage at 425 Fremont St.), what to wear (basically anything except what you might throw on for a late-night Walmart shopping trip will do) and where to go once you arrive.

The Jury Assembly Room is easy to find. Once you enter the Regional Justice Center from the main entrance on Lewis Avenue and go through security, follow the signs to the escalators, proceed to the third floor and follow the signs to Jury Services. On your reporting day, you must be prepared to remain there until 5 p.m., although chances are you’ll be excused much earlier.

A word of advice: bring a book or magazine. The court also allows you to bring personal work with you, but local newspapers (for obvious reasons) are not permitted, so be sure to leave your View at home.

Although 90 people were summoned for my reporting date, I counted only about 30 to 35 who actually showed up. If you choose to ignore your summons, expect to receive another one in a couple of weeks. Failure to respond to a summons could result in a contempt of court charge with a fine of up to $500 and/or a bench warrant.

A lucky break
We were told that because it was Good Friday, we were in luck — they only needed to assemble a jury for a one-day trial, scheduled to take place that morning and expected to end around 11 a.m. So even if we were picked to serve on the jury, chances are we’d be home for lunch. (This must have considerably brightened the day of the woman who walked in, surveyed the Jury Assembly Room and announced to everyone, “We’re going to be here for hours!”).

Once everyone had been scanned in (be sure to bring your summons with you, you’ll need it!), received their ID badge holders and had their parking validated, we watched a short but thorough orientation video explaining jury duty in the Clark County courts (hosted by the ever-cheerful Kim and Dana Wagner). That done, we were told that while we were waiting for our badge numbers to be called, we could watch cable television in the jury lounge (oddly enough, avoiding news programs seemed to be done strictly on the honor system), where beverage and snack machines also are located. I didn’t have time to check any of this out, however, because being Juror No. 4, I was among the first group called to jury selection.

My group was lined up according to our badge numbers and led to the 11th floor by the court clerk. After we were seated, the judge informed us that we had been brought to the courtroom only so he could sincerely thank us for our willingness to serve our civic duty — the two lawyers involved in the case had reached an agreement only moments before, so there would not be a trial today.

What you earn
Because Clark County operates under a One Day, One Trial jury system, just showing up for jury duty, even if you are not selected to serve on an actual jury, fulfills your service, and you will not be called again for at least 18 months to three years. However, don’t expect to get paid for just showing up for one day of jury selection — payment is $40 a day for each day after the second day of jury selection, and if you are sworn in as a juror, it’s $40 a day for each day of service.

And if you’re wondering how your name was chosen, the orientation video said names are taken from NV Energy’s customer list, as well as driver’s licenses through the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. So if you think not registering to vote is going to get you out of jury duty, think again.

Civic duty fulfilled, my badge ID was initialed by a court employee, and I was sent on my way. Total time spent serving jury duty: two hours.

I didn’t even get to read my book.

For more information about jury duty in Eighth Judicial District Court, visit www.clarkcountycourts.us/ejdc/juror-information.


— View file photo

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