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What’s Real and What’s Make Believe in “Jury Duty”?

December 4, 2023

Jury service is a civic duty that every Michigan citizen must perform. Now, you may have seen the reality hoax sitcom TV show “Jury Duty” and wondering if it’s accurate and what’s true about jury duty. We’re happy to explain.

The TV show “Jury Duty” is about a fake jury trial. It stars Ronald Gladden as a juror who doesn’t know about the hoax. The series chronicles the inner workings of a jury trial in the US through the eyes of Ronald, who is a solar contractor from San Diego and isn’t aware that his jury duty summons wasn’t official… and that everyone in the courtroom aside from himself is an actor. Everything that happens—inside and outside the courtroom— is planned as part of the TV show.

Some of the show is scripted, but Ronald thinks his jury duty is real and takes it seriously. He thinks he’s part of a documentary. That’s why he’s asked at various points to describe to the camera what’s happening in the trial. It’s a technique similar to what was used in the hit sitcom, “The Office.” However, there are also hidden cameras, and Ronald has no idea they are recording his actions.

But enough of the make believe. Let’s answer some questions about serving on a Michigan jury…

Who’s Qualified to Serve on a Michigan Jury?

Every citizen who has either a Michigan driver’s license or state ID card is eligible to serve on a jury. There are no longer any categories of employment that give an individual an automatic deferral from jury service.

Michigan citizens who are at least 18 years old and residents of the court district may be summoned to serve on a jury. The jury pool for each court comes from a list of licensed drivers and state ID card holders in the court’s district. Those who’ve been convicted of felony crimes aren’t eligible for jury service. Also, individuals over the age of 70 may ask for an age exemption from jury service.

You can be called for duty more than once, but you can’t serve on a jury more than once in a 12-month period. Jurors must be able to communicate in English and be physically and mentally able to carry out the functions of a juror.

When and Where Must I Report for Jury Service?

You must report on the date and time indicated on the Summons the is mailed to you and report to the courtroom indicated in your summons. Then you must check in with the clerk.

Are There Exceptions to Serving on a Jury?

You can be held in contempt of court, fined, or even jailed if you fail to appear for jury duty. There are some good reasons for being excused. However, you have to show up and ask the judge in person about an exception.

There are a number of grounds for excusing a person from jury service or postponing the service. “Hardship” is a common one. This may include any of the following:

  • Lack of transportation;
  • Excessive travel;
  • Extreme financial burden;
  • A long-planned vacation;
  • An undue risk to physical property; and
  • You are over 70.

“Hardship” also includes situations where your absence from your normal routine would impact another’s care or pose a risk to public health or safety. A request for a medical related exemption requires a letter from your healthcare provider. A full-time student who believes that jury service will impose an issue with attending classes must submit a copy of his or her class schedule.

What are the Key Qualifications of a Juror?

The most important qualifications of a juror are fairness and impartiality. A juror must be led by intelligence, not by emotions; must set aside all bias and prejudice; must decide the facts and apply the law impartially. A juror must treat everyone with equal fairness.

What are the Odds that I’ll Actually be Chosen for a Jury?

The overall probability is roughly 20%, but it varies.

Speak with an Experienced Michigan Personal Injury Legal Team 

When choosing a personal injury legal team, find one who’s compassionate and committed to your needs and goals. Call an experienced, empathetic litigator who will fight for your rights at Buchanan Firm. We offer a free consultation and will thoroughly listen and provide answers.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Rockford Newaygo, Grand Haven, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate you.

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