Dallas County residents who fail to show up for jury duty may find themselves in court anyway if a proposal by local district judges is funded next year. reports the Dallas Morning News. The Commissioners Court is being asked to provide a portion of the funds needed for a jury duty court where people who didn't respond to their summonses could be fined and ordered to sit on different juries. The goal, judges say, is to increase turnout at the courthouse of those called to make themselves available to serve on juries. Currently, that turnout is a paltry 19 percent.
“Serving on a jury is one of the two most sacred obligations that a citizen can do for their country,” said Judge Martin Lowy. The other, he said, is serving in the military. Lowy, the presiding judge over jury services, has worked for years to improve the response rate among potential jurors. Often the poorest and wealthiest residents don't show up, he said. That makes it difficult to assemble juries that accurately reflect the county population. Commissioners expressed approval for the judge's goals but hinted that they'd need to be convinced that the jury duty court could succeed.