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Bill of the Day: Giving Legislators a Pass from Jury Duty

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

Magnolia Tribune brings you a Bill of the Day for the 2024 Mississippi Legislative Session that just may pique your interest.

The chances that you will get jury duty are often low, and it is nearly unheard of to be called more than once in a short period of time. However, if you are a registered voter in Mississippi, being called to serve multiple times isn’t off the table considering that the selection process is done at random. 

Anyone who is a qualified elector of a county or a resident property owner for more than a year can also be summoned for jury duty in the Magnolia State. You must also be able to read and write, be at least 21 years of age, and not have been convicted of any type of infamous crime. 

But if you receive a jury summons, you can request an excuse from serving. Those excuses can include facing a hardship in business or personal life, having served on jury duty in the same court in the last two years, or be 65 years of age or older. 

This year, lawmakers are considering a bill to excuse themselves and their spouses from serving on a jury. HB 999 extends such an out to every member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, and Senate as well as their spouses, allowing for them to claim “personal privilege” in order to be excused from jury duty.

The bill was authored by State Representative Timmy Ladner (R) who said he has received a summons in January for the last few years – while lawmakers in session. The Legislature meets for the first 90 or 120 days each year beginning in January.  

“In January for the past few years I’ve gotten a jury summons. In turn I have to go through the motions of getting excused from duty,” said Rep. Ladner. “I wrote it just to get off that list.” 

Ladner went on to clarify that there is an expectation that an amendment will be added that only allows for the exemption during the Legislative session.

“So, any other time of year we could be called,” said Rep. Ladner. 

Federal law requires that juries be selected at random from a fair cross section of the community where the court convenes. In order to serve on a federal jury you must be over 18 years old, be a U.S. citizen, and have lived in a judicial district for at least a year. You also cannot have any felony convictions. 

Ladner’s bill has been referred to the House Judiciary B Committee. 

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

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