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VALLEY FOCUS | Valleywide

Jury Duty Program Will Be Revived

July 10, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

Jury duty dodgers beware.

Beginning July 20, prospective jurors will be required to complete and return jury summons forms in a timely fashion or face fines up to $1,500 under the countywide Sanctions Summons Program, Los Angeles Superior Court officials announced this week.

"This program was in effect a couple of years ago, and we found it to be instrumental in reducing the number of people who did not respond for jury duty," said Gloria Gomez, manager of juror services for the Superior Court. "We were unable to go forward with the program last year because we were in the midst of implementing other programs."

Gomez said that when the program was in effect, the non-response rate went down to 20% from the usual 40%.

Under the program, citizens who don't respond to three written jury notices will be required to appear before a judge, Gomez said. The first notice is the sanction summons, whereby citizens are ordered to report for jury service. Those who fail to respond to the summons within 30 days will receive a second notice for failure to appear.

A third and final summons, a "show cause" notice, will be sent to those who fail to respond to the second notice. The final notice sets a firm date for jury service and a date for a hearing if the person does not show up.

"If they fail to appear for the hearing to explain to the judge why they did not respond to the notice, then the judge will likely fine that juror the maximum amount," Gomez said.

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