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June 18, 2010

College Students and Jury Duty

Gavel08a Many students go to school in a state other than their own when they head off to college. They may get a jury duty notice from their home state while away, and usually they can postpone jury duty until they graduate without having to ever appear at a courthouse. This is all very reasonable. Then there is Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has 121 institutions for higher education within its relatively small area. To take advantage of a tremendous jury pool it calls students that are citizens of other states, but go to school in Massachusetts, for jury duty. These students are not allowed to postpone it by phone or online or mail. They must spend a day in court and ask the judge to grant a postponement. In the meantime, these kids are also being called for jury duty in their home state!

This is so wrong and unfair for so many reasons:

  • It doesn't seem right that anybody could be called for jury duty by two states.
  • How can a state call a non-citizen for jury duty?
  • A student that attends school out-of-state is usually only in that state when school is in session. They almost always go back home during all vacations so that they can see their loved ones, get jobs, etc. Very often, dorms close during these times. During short school holidays such as Columbus Day, the courts are closed.
  • This is a great one - The phone number on the Massachusetts jury duty notice to call for all questions or problems is a number that can only be accessed from a Massachusetts phone number. Isn't that rich? Out-of-state students who only have a cell phone (nobody gets a land line in college anymore) can not call this number. Is there something wrong with this?

I think serving on a jury is a great experience and everyone should do it. However a college student should not have to miss classes or stay at school during vacation time to do so. There are many problems with the jury process to begin with, but many of these would be difficult to fix. This Massachusetts out-of-state student juror issue is something that should be looked into and hopefully abolished.

Original 50-something Moms Blog Post by Jennifer Wagner who also writes at the New York Parenting Teens Examiner and Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology. Jennifer also has a law degree from New York University.

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