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Jury Duty
updated: May 10, 2011, 6:26 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

I am curious about the statistical probability of local jury duty service. If on call for a week, how likely is it that you will be summoned?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 171642 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 06:58 AM



 COMMENT 171651 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 07:08 AM

Been Summoned 4 times,Called in Twice. Dismissed once and on one Jury. This over a 10 year period. I now have not been summoned for more than 5 years ! Whew


 COMMENT 171660 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 07:27 AM

Lotsa variables there...very difficult to nail down a probability. It used to be that you got a number from 1 to around 550 assigned to you, and people were called in starting with the lowest numbers first. If you had a low number, you would almost definitely be called in. A high number, and chances were that you'd skate.

Talking with a friend that just got called in to jury duty, he says that the numbering system is different now. You still get a number but he says it is a lot longer number. And you can now check your jury status online.

Regardless, the one variable that is hardest to predict is the schedule of big trials in Superior court. Big-time murder cases require a LOT of jurors (hundreds) to be called. If you happen to have jury duty when one of these comes up, you will be asked to show up.

I have been in Santa Barbara for 15 years. I have received 6 jury duty notices in that time. Twice I was called in to the courthouse. Both times I made it into a court room. Once I sat on jury. So based on my experience, you have a 33% chance to be called in and a 17% chance to sit on a trial. (Quite a high std dev though)

The first of the two cases where I was a juror in the court room was that big murder trial in the late 90's where the woman shot her drunk, abusive husband (or boyfriend) in their house on Paradise Rd. Took them three days to seat a jury. I was one of 40 jurors called into the court room to seat only two alternate on the jury. Thank god I didn't sit on that jury because she was tried three times, with all three juries ending hung, and all three trials took at least three weeks.

The second case I actually sat on the jury...the only time in my life doing so. A civil trial to determine whether a mentally disturbed man should have the county decide what's in his best interests. The man's lawyer should never have put him on the stand to answer questions. That dude was positively crazy.


 COMMENT 171665P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 07:36 AM

I have been in SB for 30 plus years; received a summons once, but wasn't called --- have never been on a jury, which I'd like to do, actually.


 COMMENT 171681 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 07:59 AM

It is both a duty and privilege to serve on a public jury of your peers. It is fundamental to our system of justice. Make room in your life for this important public service. It is like voting. Jury duty is part of our obligation to live in this society. Just do it.


 COMMENT 171686P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 08:10 AM

I am not trying to weasel out of my service. I simply was curious as to how likely I would be to get called in.


 SHOREBIRD agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 08:10 AM

I"ve been here 16 years. Have been gotten jury duty mailings 8 times. Most of the time I have been lucky with a high number.

Once was chosen for jury duty and thrown off by the defendants attorney. Once was called in and sat through the jury duty videos and then we were all dismissed just as we were supposed to go into the court room. Probably got dismissed because of a last minute plea bargain.

One guy in that group was wearing a T-Shirt with a gun on it and the following words. "You want justice. I'll show you justice." I don't think he wanted to serve.

If you get called or jury duty and have vacation or some other important thing scheduled you can call the jury office and they will reschedule you for a month later. This however will guarantee a low number and increase your chances of being called.

The jury summons that I really dread is for a federal jury. Imagine having to drive to LA every day for a trial.


 COMMENT 171692 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 08:13 AM

That hasn't been my experience, Shorebird. I have rescheduled three times and all three times I got an extremely high number, and all three times I never had to go to the court.


 COMMENT 171698P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 08:20 AM

The best time to receive a summons is before a big holiday, christmas, thanksgiving. Few trials start then.

I work for the county in an setting with about 60 people. There always seems to be someone getting a summons. Two of the managers have served on trials. Both trials took several months.

Luckily the county pays your salary while you serve.Two or three months without pay could be financial ruin for many people.


 SHOREBIRD agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 08:23 AM

The Highlander. Perhaps the potential juror list was already established when you called. I called the day I got the summons and got a very low number the next time. Perhaps a good strategy for getting a higher number is to call just before reporting date.


 COMMENT 171713 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 08:34 AM

Since they started the call in program, I've had to actually report in person a couple of times (50%), I think on day three or four. Both times that I did have to show up, we were dismissed when the defendant settled after he saw the pile of jurors.


 COMMENT 171716P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 08:39 AM

Regarding 171681's comment about jury duty being our duty and a fundamental part of our system: I was on a jury in OC about 20 years ago and the jury had no option but to find the defendant guilty based upon the evidence presented and instructions given in court. Later, I happened to get stuck in an elevator with the defendant's mother and she told me of lots of things that weren't presented in court. I had the feeling that justice was not served in this particular case, and have always stated my problem with our jury system during subsequent jury reporting duties. I haven't been placed on a jury since, and I doubt I ever will. I am not convinced a jury of our "peers" is unbiased.


 COMMENT 171745 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 09:18 AM

I'm on call right now. Have been called about 6 times and have lived here 40 years. Have never served. Once I got into the box but after lunch we were dismissed because the case was settled. The usual for me is to call in two days and then have to show up on the third, then jury selection took place that day and the next. It's a hassle, I know, but actually it's interesting to see how the system works and to be part of it. It's also a good reminder of why you never want to be on the wrong side of the system....


 COMMENT 171751 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 09:26 AM

It is/was true that if you had a low number your changes were much greater of just being called. Once at the court the chance of being selected for service is the real wild card. Also, if you defer serving at court your chance of receiving a summons again with 3 weeks is about 100%.

I throw the summons away and forget about it. Then your chances of being on a jury have self-adjusted to 0%. Skipping jury duty isn't enforceable as it is voluntary community service. They scare you with a fake "summons" (not even sent registered mail) and "legal action" which is all urban legend including suspending your driver’s license, showing up at your house to arrest you and fines.


 COMMENT 171752P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 09:29 AM

I was summoned every year when I was working and it was nearly, if not impossible, for me to serve. Now that I have been retired, I have never been called to duty.


 COMMENT 171754 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 09:34 AM

First time summoned. Jury selected on first day. I was not called. Went home

Second time summoned. Selected first day as juror #2. Remained in that postion for one week as others were called and dismissed or selected. Questioned in detail twice by attornies. End of jury selction. Sworn in and went home for the day. Returned and told the case had been settled out of court. Big relief for it was going to be a long trial, 3 to 6 months!!!!! Yeeeeeeey


 COMMENT 171771 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 10:05 AM

It's a good thing that nowhere in the Constitution does it say "...jury of PEERS."

Being judged by a jury of ones' peers might never result in a guilty verdict since peers could have a tendency to be overly sympathetic versus a cross section of other citizens.


 COMMENT 171791P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 10:38 AM

I get a jury summons regularly every 2 years, and have had to appear in person the last 2 or 3 times. But, have not been selected to serve yet. I've learned to show up, go through the process and figure I'll likely be home/back to work by noon.

I wish the process could be changed because it seems to take hundreds of people to fill a jury. During this process, many of us have to juggle work committments, childcare or other to show up, only to be released. Last time I was in the courtroom, a surgeon asked to be dismissed because it would require rescheduling all his surgeries for a week or more and the judge did not let him go. I'd be upset if I was due to have surgery and the doctor had to postpone because of jury duty!

@751, shame on you for disregarding this civil duty. I don't like it, but I fulfill my duty.


 COMMENT 171795P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 10:40 AM

Let me say first of all, I don't mind serving: but there has to be a better way that is more respectful to those that are asked to serve.

My work entails having fixed appointments all workday long. So, while I am on jury duty call, I can either choose not to work, or I can roll the dice and schedule normally and hope that I am not needed. However, if I am needed, I need to cancel and reschedule all the appointments after 5:30 in the evening. This is very problematic for all involved-and that can be up to 20 people for each day involved.

A much better system would be to schedule the propective juror for specific day two months out and then have them appear on that day only. That way, one can plan for that day. Other states use a system like this.

On an associated topic, who came up with the new phone in system? It takes almost 5 minutes to finally hear if you need to appear the next day. The old system was much faster and more efficient. And what's this about punching in an assigned number for security purposes? Have they had a bunch of trouble with people pretending to be jurors?


 COMMENT 171797P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 10:46 AM

-751 is absolutely spot on here.

If you toss the summons, you will NOT be arrested or even contacted. Unless that correspondence arrives via registered, certified mail (you have to sign & show proof of your identity), there's no way to prove you ever received it. Period.


 COMMENT 171799P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 10:49 AM

-751 is absolutely spot on here.

If you toss the summons, you will NOT be arrested or even contacted. Unless that correspondence arrives via registered, certified mail (you have to sign & show proof of your identity), there's no way to prove you ever received it. Period.


 COMMENT 171833 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 12:30 PM

Originally, a jury of your peers was just that. The locals that knew you. As they had to judge you innocent or guilty, obviously what they knew of your character was important.

On the plus side if you are a popular and good person, the jury of your peers would be sympathetic.

On the minus side, if you were a known baddie, they may decide against you, despite flimsy evidence.


 COMMENT 171853P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 01:31 PM

I got into the jury box on the Ruben Mize case but was dismissed because of law enforcement background earlier in my working career. I guess the defense attorneys couldn't believe that I could judge the case on the facts, even though I told them I would be willing to do that. That selection process cost me five work days, but cost those who served many weeks of their time. That's part of the price we all pay here for putting these guys behind bars for a long time.


 SMAC6590 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 02:27 PM

Been called three years in a row. Had to report each time on the last day. Once I didn't get close; once they got a jury when there were only about five of us left; and once I was the last juror seated. Three week trial. Fortunately, I don't have a job I need to go to. If I did,serving on a long trial would be a burden. City, state and federal workers get full pay while on juries. Let's change the rules to define "peers" as government workers in the city, county, state... Whatever. Must be enough of them overall to handle the jury thing.


 COMMENT 171884 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 03:49 PM

795- I agree with you completely. The system sucks for working people and especially self-employed people. A fixed reporting date system would be much better.The system works for the judges and the attorneys, but it screws any other professional out there. People lose days of work and clients and patients with scheduled appointments get hosed too.


 COMMENT 171915 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 05:42 PM

The public respects jury service and what it entails if you have to reschedule your time during that short window where you are asked to serve.

Set aside a rainy day fund dedicated solely to support yourself during this public duty. It is what you do and we are all in the same boat. One gets called so rarely, this is just one part of one's obligations as a citizen so plan ahead.

I would think a lot less of someone who intentionally evaded this small public duty than being inconvenienced myself when that person is called to serve.


 COMMENT 171928 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-10 07:02 PM

I don't happen to think that dreading jury duty or wanting to know what the likelihood of being called = trying to get out of it. Some people really know how to read (their own stuff) between the lines!

That said, if someone has a serious reason to postpone jury duty (trip, wedding, surgery, etc) then you can actually call to defer it to a later date. I did this once and they were very nice to me and sent me a summons a few weeks after I said I'd be clear again.


 COMMENT 172005 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-11 07:36 AM

In NH you are "on call" for a month. You go in on the first day of the month and they choose all the juries for the next 14 days. Not chosen? You go home and come back around the 15th when they choose the juries for the last half of the month. Found that was easier than calling in each day.


 COMMENT 172030 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-11 08:26 AM

I was surprised to discover this cumbersome and frustrating jury system when I moved here from Stanislaus County. Other counties, such as Stanislaus, have changed to an excellent system called 'One Day or One Trial'. Google it for a better explanation than I can give as to how it works. Maybe there are drawbacks I'm unaware of, but for working people, it's great.


 COMMENT 172041 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-11 08:50 AM

I've gotten 3 summons, appeared in court 2 of those times and served on a jury 1 of those.

Really though, as people have said, there are simply so many variables... how many concurrent trials are there, what kind of trials are they, how many jurors in line before you have made excuses or have been dismissed, etc.

Even if it were possible to come up with an "average chance to serve on a jury," the statistical deviation would be absurd and would render that statistic effectively worthless to you.


 COMMENT 172054 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-11 09:18 AM

I used to get the cards in the mail every other year. I would do my best to call in every day. If I ever had to go in, it was never until the final day of calling. So two weeks were wasted calling in every day and then on the final day my service would start. I once waited in the courtroom for a week as they interviewed every single person in my group. I was the 2nd to the last one interviewed. I burst into tears over the nervousness of being interviewed by all these scary lawyers and judges and they dismissed me. I went through a few more years of cards every other year and then one year I kept forgetting to call in every night and I think I missed my service. Since then I have never received another card in the mail. I really would like to be on an actual jury to see what it is like, but the process really stinks.


 COMMENT 172148P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-11 12:55 PM

030: thank you for your post. I clicked on the Stanislaus Court page to look at the jury system. I couldn't believe how easy it is! The wastefulness of our jury system is a disgrace. Now, how do we change oour system here?


 COMMENT 172236 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-11 06:35 PM

I have been called a couple times. I take a book and sit in the jury room on Anacapa Street. One time I made it to the jury box, but was excused. It depends on the the profile of the court case in question. You can figuire it out by reading the news.


 COMMENT 666058 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-11-22 03:24 PM

I do believe that it's every citizen's duty to serve when called for Jury Duty. However, I am puzzled by the fact that I have been called every two years for the past 10, and none of my friends have ever been sent a summons. All of them have lived in Santa Barbara for over 30 years, and all of them are law-abiding citizen who are registered voters. It's difficult for me to believe there aren't enough qualified people within Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria to share the responsibility in a more equitable way. Can anyone explain this to me? Perhaps I'm missing something.


 SHOREBIRD agree helpful negative off topic

2015-11-22 07:36 PM

Since the original entry was 4 years ago I have been called 2 more times. Served on one trial.

So that makes it every 2 years for the last 20 years since I moved here.
I know many people who have lived here their whole lives and they have never been called.

When you go in the first day they log you in one at a time.

I think what happens is if you show up you get put on the "this one shows up list." Congratulations. The county has got your number.


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