Philly to Crack Down on Skipping Jury Duty

Philadelphia will revive scofflaw court, could put jury duty shirkers in prison for 10 days.

Of the 596,121 residents of Philadelphia summoned to jury duty last year, 78,756 actually showed up. The 13.8 percent yield has pushed Judge John Herron to bring back scofflaw court. Those who skip jury duty could get community service or jail time.

According to The Legal Intelligencer, Philadelphia eliminated scofflaw court in the early 2000s.

“It’s our feeling that this is a last-ditch effort,” Herron told the Intelligencer. “We do not feel that punishing citizens is a role that the court enjoys or wants to initiate, but when we have such rampant disregard for summonses we need to take these measures.” He says jury panels are now smaller due to the small number of people showing up for jury duty.

The yield in 2012 was 14 percent, just slightly better than 2013. Violators can get a $500 fine or 10 days in jail. Scofflaw court will meet four times a year.

[Newsworks | Legal Intelligencer]