Fail to appear for federal jury service and it could cost you

Punishment for ignoring a federal jury summons can result in $1,000 fine, three days in jail, community service or any combination of the three.

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Punishment for ignoring a federal jury summons can result in $1,000 fine, three days in jail, community service or any combination of the three.

PHOENIX – Ignoring a jury summons can prove to be time consuming and expensive. In addition to being admonished by a federal judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1864(b), punishment may also include up to a $1,000 fine, three days in jail, community service, or any combination thereof.

Fourteen jurors in the Tucson area were recently served by the U.S. Marshals Service with an Order to Show Cause for failing to appear for jury service. The jurors were ordered to appear before U.S. District Judge David C. Bury to provide an explanation for repeated failures to comply with a jury summons.

During the court proceedings, 13 of the prospective jurors were unable to show good cause for not appearing as directed by the jury office. After failing to show good cause, the judge fined each juror $300. One juror was able to demonstrate good cause for not complying with the summons and therefore was not sanctioned.

The jury system is referred to as the cornerstone of our democracy and it is incumbent on all eligible citizens to comply with a summons for jury service.

Scam alert: U.S. Marshal or officers of the court

PHOENIX – There have been many reports of telephone jury scams across the country involving individuals who claim to be U.S. Marshals or officers of the court.

If you are being contacted for a legitimate failure to appear for jury service, the U.S. Marshal will serve you in person with an order directing you to appear before the court. A U.S. Marshal will never contact a juror by phone and request an electronic payment be made over the phone, nor will they ask for personal information including Social Security numbers or banking formation. The following facts will assist in determining if a jury call is legitimate.

• A court will always send a jury summons by U.S. mail and will never demand payment or sensitive information over the telephone.

• A prospective juror who disregards a summons will be contacted by the court clerk’s office and may be ordered to appear before a judge.

• A fine will never be imposed until after the individual has appeared in court and been given the opportunity to explain a failure to appear.

Anyone who is concerned they might be the target of a jury scam should contact the jury office of the U.S. District Court, as well as the local U.S. Marshals Service.