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by Lois Zerrer

When was the last time you received a summons for jury duty? What about one of your employees?

What was the reaction? "Oh, what a pain" or "OK, this could be interesting"?

I hope your reaction was a positive one. Jury duty is an important function in our justice system. If we want our society to function well for our business lives and personal lives, we must be willing to participate to make the justice system work for all of us.

The Missouri statute relating to juries states "all citizens shall have the opportunity to be considered for jury service and an obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose." RSMO 494.400. (Emphasis added.)

Employers should be aware that the statute also states that an employer "shall not terminate, discipline, threaten or take adverse actions against an employee" because of jury service. The employee can bring an action against the employer for such a violation.

If you are summoned and willfully fail to respond or appear, you could be fined for criminal contempt.

But the real point of this article is that it is every citizen's responsibility to see that the system works.

In Greene County, jury panels are selected from driver's license records, as well as voter records. Generally, when summoned in Greene County, a person is asked to appear for one week or one trial.

Very seldom will a trial last more than one week.

After serving on a jury, the vast majority of people indicate it was an interesting and worthwhile experience and they are glad that they participated.

Jurors are paid the statutory rate ($6 per day) and mileage, which is now calculated based on your Zip code. Employers are not required to pay employees if they are not at work because of jury duty.

So, the next time you or one of your employees receives a summons for jury duty, do not spend all of your energy trying to "get out of it."

This is a chance for a citizen to make a difference, to make a real contribution to our system of justice.

Try it. I bet you will be glad you did.

(Lois Zerrer is executive director of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association.)

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The next time you

or one of your employees receives a summons for jury duty, do not spend all of your energy trying to 'get out of it.'[[In-content Ad]]

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