Jurors could be fined for no shows in Lunenburg County

Some prospective jurors dread a summons in their mailbox, but local officials point out participating in the American justice system is a privilege.

Even though it is a privilege, the Lunenburg County Court System is seeing more and more citizens not appearing for jury duty and recently decided to issue “show cause” orders for those who do not appear. 

“For the first time that I have ever heard of, we will be show causing jurors who are served and do not respond,” said Clerk of the Circuit Court Gordon Erby. “This is in relation to having more juries and some of the public not doing their civic duty.”

Erby said the court system is requesting that show causes be issued for persons who are notified and do not respond. If you don’t have a valid reason, you may be fined or even incarcerated.

To explain, an order to show cause is a court order requiring the prospective juror to justify or explain why he or she can’t show up for their scheduled court hearing if selected. If you’re sick, for example, that would mean including a doctor’s note. If you have to be out of the county for the time of the selected hearing, that means providing an explanation as to why you can’t postpone the trip. A simple “sorry, I can’t make it” isn’t exactly good enough. 

Where are jurors pulled from?

Many believe that the juror pool is solely drawn from voter registration rolls, but that is only one source. In fact, according to Virginia Code, jurors can also be chosen from the Department of Motor Vehicle’s list of individuals with motor vehicle licenses, personal property tax rolls, and other lists designated by the circuit’s chief judge. 

The selection process can be done manually, mechanically, or electronically, as long as it is random.