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Jury Questionnaires Sent to Local Residents

by ARLnow.com — August 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm 2,973 35 Comments

It’s that time of the year again — time for the local jury qualification process in Arlington and Falls Church.

Questionnaires are being sent to about 10,000 randomly-selected registered voters, per state law, to determine whether they qualify for jury duty in 2012. Recipients are required to complete and return the questionnaires within 10 days of receipt — either via mail or online.

“Jury Commissioners appointed by the Court review the questionnaires to determine eligibility for service according to criteria established by the General Assembly,” the county said in a press release. If selected, a recipient will be asked to serve as a juror on a civil or a criminal trial next year.

“We are fortunate in Arlington and the City of Falls Church to have residents who are so willing to fulfill their commitment as a juror,” said Clerk of the Ciruit Court Paul Ferguson. “Our system of justice could not operate without this valuable public service. The Arlington Circuit Court greatly appreciates the service of everyone who reported last year, and we look forward to greeting new jurors in 2012.”

The average length of a trial in Arlington’s Circuit Court is 1 to 2 days, with the trial days stretching as long as 5:00 p.m. or later. Jurors receive $30 per day in compensation.

Certain individuals are exempt from jury duty, including non-U.S. citizens, convicted felons, residents who’s lived in the county less than 6 months, people with medical conditions, those over the age of 70, primary caregivers to a child or disabled relative, police officers, firefighters, jail employees, practicing attorneys, certain full-time teachers, those who have a hard time hearing or understanding, and people with pending cases before the court.

Jury service may be deferred/postponed if a potential juror has a previously-scheduled trip, is unemployed and seeking a job, is a full-time student or if the jury service would impose a severe financial hardship. Just don’t call with excuses after receiving the questionnaire, officials say.

“The questionnaire is not a summons to appear so please do not call the Clerk’s Office asking for an excuse from jury duty,” the county press release said. “Excuses or postponements to serve at another time during the year can be considered if you are actually summoned to serve as a juror.”

If you don’t return the questionnaire within 10 days, you’ll be summoned to court to complete it.

  • novasteve

    The ONLY only only thing I actually like about having gone to law school and passed the bar is that I’m exempted from Jury duty for life.

    • JamesE

      Can you represent me in court when I refuse to pay my property tax until Arlington does something about the homeless problem?

      • novasteve

        I’m not admitted in VA. I don’t think any attorney representing you for that is going to have any success and you’ll wind up huring your credit, and get interest and penalties charged. best protest you could do is to move out of arlington.

      • drax

        Life is so hard when you have to pay taxes while those homeless lucky ducks don’t have to.

    • Anon

      Provided you keep up your CLE and pay your bar dues. It says PRACTICING attorney not law school graduate/bar exam passer.

    • Funny

      Not true.

      • Funny

        Right anon, not true, novasteve.

    • Architeuthis

      Only in Arlington. In other jurisdictions (including others in VA) lawyers sit on juries. Many lawyers end up on DC juries.

      • steve

        Why on earth would you want a lawyer on a jury? In deliberations they would be able to explain evidentiary rules. Yo don’t want people understanding law to be sitting on a jury.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          +100. Ha.

        • http://JeffreySpangler.com Jeff Spangler

          I was one of two lawyers on a Philadelphia criminal jury in a routine stickup of a Mom-and-Pop grocery store. Defense counsel apparently struck some other jurors but settled for two lawyers, thinking, who else could scare up a reasonable doubt about an obviously guilty client? We convicted, but we two lawyers were careful to avoid anything which might be used as grounds for reversal, like accepting the foreperson job or answering questions of law, which we reminded those who asked were for the judge to answer. I found it very interesting. If you don’t want to serve, put something inflammatory on the questionnaire like “I don’t believe anyone can get a fair trial in a fundamentally corrupt system of justice such as ours”. No attorney would pick you even if you do have to show up.

    • Michael H.

      In DC, even judges are eligible to sit on juries. When I was on jury duty in DC many years ago, the presiding judge told us that he was part of a jury for a different case just a few weeks before. (Perhaps the rules are different now. I don’t know.) The pool of qualified jurors is very small in DC, partly because so many people are short-term residents and/or registered to vote in other jurisdictions.

      • Willy

        you left off the “and so many are convicted felons” part…

  • John Fontain

    If they’d put a return stamp on the questionnaire, I might actually return it to them.

  • Nunya

    i’ve been in arlington for 20 years and have only been called once. and then was let go after two days.

    • bobco85

      Similar story here. I have only been called once, and for the first three days, I came in, waited, and then left because the defendant had declined to use a jury. After that, they didn’t have any other court cases for the rest of the week, so my jury duty was uneventful. Haha, I spent most of my time wondering if I was actually going to get to do something!

  • Ren

    I just got selected for jury duty. I don’t own a car. As I understand it, if I want to keep in touch with my recently-released from surgery boyfriend or my job, I need to find a spot in a local park and hide my phone in a shrub. Are there really no provisions for people to leave a phone anywhere given that they aren’t allowed to have a phone in the Courthouse? Do they just assume everyone has a car where they can leave the phone? I’m not an obnoxious phone user who was planning to text away from Court but I do have people I need to be in touch with on occasion. Kind of wishing I hadn’t registered to vote.

    • Take it down a notch

      You can’t have the phone in the court room because most cell phones can take pictures.

      There are lockers for cell phones, etc. in the lobby of the county jail across the courtyard from the courthouse building. You need a quarter or two to use them.

      They don’t assume everyone has a car and in fact they encourage you to use mass transit to get to the courthouse. Nonetheless, it was easy to find parking (metered or in a garage, but the $30 per day is more than enough to cover the cost).

      You can bring a laptop with you to use in the jury waiting room. They have wifi.

    • J

      There are coin opp lockers in the jail just across from the entrance to the courthouse.

    • Funny

      You can check it, for $1.00 fee I think just in front of courthouse.

      • ring

        You can bring a cell phone into a federal courtroom, or at least you could several years ago. I have never understood why Arlington is so restrictive. It’s really annoying.

        • charlie

          because cell phones can be used as remote detonators.

  • Take it down a notch

    I served on jury duty in May. They do a good job of explaining the process, different types of trials, etc., so you have an idea of what’s going on. I had to report to the court room on two days, and both days I was out by noon because I wasn’t chosen for a jury. It was pretty painless, and different from serving jury duty in any other place that I’ve lived.

  • Whitney Wilson

    As a “practicing attorney,” I’ve always wanted to serve on a jury (either civil or criminal). Never had the opportunity though, and as long as I stay in Arlington (16 years and counting), it doesn’t look like I will get a chance

    • Architeuthis

      EDVA jury maybe?

  • slow dog

    Attorneys? My wife served on an Arlington jury with 3-4 other attorneys — all who were practicing attorneys. I wonder if all active attorneys are except or just some subset????

    • Arlington Lawyer

      I believe only lawyers who regularly practice before THIS court are exempt from service.

    • SaveDaveMckenna

      If you eliminate all attorneys from the Arlington jury pool, you’d have a tough time filling all the slots. Are brown flip flops allowed in court?

  • Just Me

    I moved to the county in 1984 and was called to jury duty once.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    I was notified for jury duty back in 1992. I served on several juries during a two-week period. Some days, go in, wait to be called, and dismissed at noon if not selected. It was a learning experience to see a trial live, and I believe it was a good learning experience for me.

  • charlie

    I think everyone should be willing and able and proud to serve on a jury. Afterall, it is a jury of your peers. If you don’t do it, who will? And then if you need a jury do you want it to be regular people or just those not selfish enough to figure out how to have gotten out of jury duty.
    People need to realize how lucky they are to have juries much less the responsibility of serving on one.
    I’ve been called numerous times and always valued the experience.

  • yo yo yo

    I served a few years back. Our Jury consisted of me, three really good looking 20 something women, a self employed nut case who kept asking the wrong questions, a retired air force officer who treated us all like grandchildren, and a couple of others.

    Anyway, I guess word got out about the 20 somethings, because court workers (men) kept coming in during the trial and looking at the jury and leaving after a minute or two.

    No free parking.

  • PikerGirl

    I have lived in Arlington 25 years and have only been called once for jury duty. Was let go after two days because the case was settled at the last minute. The clerk told us it would have been a very interesting case, would have probably taken a week (Longer than average case of 1-2 days), involved a medical death? (malpractice suit) and had lots of expert witnesses. Oh well, missed out. Maybe I need to move to DC where there is more crime and smaller pool of jurors. :) But I am an engineer and some people say that attorneys don’t like to have engineers on the jury.

    • yo yo yo

      My case was about embezzlement, the defense attny dismissed two accountants.

  • yo yo yo

    In Maryland, a friend got out of jury duty by telling the judge he was not impartial because he worked for a civil rights agency of the federal government. He said he had first hand knowledge that the police unfairly target members of the African American American Community.

    He was out by 9:45 AM, didn’t go back to work, and went a saw a movie.

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