PBCBA BAR BULLETINS pbcba_bulletin_May 2019 | Page 3

PRESIDENT’S M e s s a g e “The Question” All Lawyers Get Gregory P. Huber 2018-19 PBCBA President As lawyers, there is one question it seems we all get: “How do I get out of jury duty?” At our recent Bench Bar Conference, Chief Judge Krista Marx shared some startling statistics about perspective jurors failing to appear for jury duty. Less than 30% of people summoned for jury duty in Palm Beach County show up. With the number of prospective jurors simply ignoring jury summons how we answer “the question” seems to matter now more than ever. Recently, I got “the question” from a good friend. He gets paid hourly, and if he isn’t working, he isn’t getting paid. He told me he wouldn’t mind serving but just couldn’t afford it. I understood his concern but I told him if he was able to make the financial sacrifice, he would be surprised at how rewarding the experience would be. We talked about the importance of the jury process to our founding fathers and how it was part of the fabric of the United States. I told him as citizens of the United States, it was our duty to serve to protect this fundamental right and suggested rather than trying to get out of service, he should explain his hardship and see if he could get on a shorter trial. At the end of the conversation, I was convinced he was still planning on doing whatever he could to avoid serving. I was wrong. A few weeks later I saw my friend, and it turns out I tapped into his patriotic side, and he felt compelled to serve. So rather than using the “I don’t believe in the jury system," “everyone is guilty until proven innocent," or “I can’t be fair and impartial” excuses he had planned to use, he explained his hardship and asked to be considered for a shorter trial. He went through jury selection and was selected to serve on a 2-3 day criminal case. Although the case ended shortly afterward when the defendant entered a plea, the experience was positive. The Judge talked to the jurors after and explained the important role they played in getting the matter resolved. My friend was proud of PBCBA BAR BULLETIN 3 his service and felt like he had made a difference. I asked if he would serve again, and without hesitation, he said: "yes…well, as long as it was a short trial." I was also pleased to hear that he was sharing his experience with others hoping they might think twice before trying to get out of jury duty the next time they received a jury summons. As lawyers how we answer “the question” might change a prospective juror’s mind so please think about your answer and work to encourage others to do their civic duty and serve. Thank you. Again, please don’t hesitate to contact me to let me know how I can be of service to you. Phone: (561) 630-9700; E-mail: pbcba- [email protected]. Thank you,