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Jury duty has benefits for students

Growing up comes with its leaps and bounds, one of which comes with being registered to vote — which includes the possibility to be summoned to court to be a jury member.

While University freshman Andrea Danziger hasn’t been summoned for jury duty, she thinks it would be a good idea to be a juror.

“I think it’s a good institution to have,” Danziger said.

Students who are summoned for jury duty are far and few between — only one or two students are summoned every year, which isn’t very often, said Doug Cubberley, court administrator for the Bowling Green Municipal Court.

In order to be in the pool for jury duty, students have to register with the Board of Elections in order to vote in the county they live in. Voters are pooled into an electronic database that randomly selects people to be summoned for jury duty.

“[Students will] get a written notice if they’re registered to vote,” Cubberley said. “The Board of Elections system randomly picks names, every third or fifth person. It’s very random.”

When someone is summoned for jury duty, they report to the court and assemble in the Jury Assembly. From there, a group of 30 to 50 people would be interviewed to fill in eight to 12 spots on the jury and are questioned about their backgrounds and looking for any biases that might exist.

While someone might have been summoned for jury duty, it doesn’t mean they will serve. The group selected for jury duty is two to three times the size of who will be on the jury.

Questioned by the judge or attorney, jurors are asked if they have been a victim of a crime similar to the case they’re sitting on or if they know someone in law enforcement.

In the end, eight people will be selected as part of the jury, with one sitting aside as an alternate, Cubberley said.

While various types of jury exist, the two most common types of juries are the grand jury and the petit jury.

The primary type of jury is the grand jury, which decides if there is enough evidence along with probable cause to take a case to trial.

“Many people are surprised to know that this kind of jury exists, it’s kind of secretive,” said Rodney Fleming, the managing attorney at Student Legal Services.

For grand jury, jury members serve for a month while two attorneys present their cases. During this time, the jurors hear different types of evidence, looking to see if there’s probable cause.

“Students get much more of a broad view of the system [while] sitting on the jury,” Fleming said.

The other type of jury is the petit jury, which is the trial jury. During this kind of jury, both parties are represented. Jury members find out particular facts from both sides of the case.

“It’s interesting,” Fleming said. “You see both the prosecution and defense and [jurors have to] issue a decision you see there [during the trial] that affects the defendant.”

Most students called in enjoy participating in jury duty, Cubberley said.

“The only complaint is students miss class, but it’s part of civic duty,” he said. “We call in lawyers and teachers and they still participate, since it’s part of their civic duty.”

One of the biggest concerns people have is how long being a jury member takes.

“Most cases are only a day commitment,” Cubberley said. “There has only been one case in the 18 years I’ve been here that has gone over a day.”

While jury duty is a time commitment, it’s a learning experience for citizens to see the justice process in action.

“The Constitution provides students a trial by their own peers,” Fleming said. “Learn from the experience.”

If there is a reason for someone to not be able to serve, they need to go to the date and time they were summoned and advise the court on the difficulties they have in attending.

“The courts try to tell you how long it’ll take and give you notice in advance,” Fleming said.

Danziger said she would attend if students weren’t punished for missing classes.

“It’s a noble undertaking, but the time that is needed isn’t realistic, but as a citizen, it’s in their best interests,” Danziger said.

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