PHOENIX — A group of Valley residents learned a harsh lesson Friday: “Never ignore a jury summons unless you have a good reason.”
Those who could not come up with a good reason to miss jury service could face sanctions from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Creamer.
One by one, those who criticized the jury’s service stood before Creamer and argued why he should not be fined up to $500. Mr. Creamer showed mercy to single parents and school staff, but he was also willing to issue $100 or $200 fines to those he thought could have done more to fulfill their civic duty.
Friday’s hearing was part of a series of hearings scheduled by the court to educate the public about the importance of jury service and demonstrate the consequences of ignoring subpoenas.
Creamer said people are mistakenly looking for ways to avoid summoning a jury instead of helping decide the outcome of the county’s most complex case.
“You shouldn’t think of it that way,” the judge said. “The jury system is what makes our justice system different from other justice systems.”
Arizona courts have undergone reforms in recent years to make jury service more attractive, significantly increasing juror per diem rates from $40 to $300.
Creamer said the court always takes time to hear why some people don’t serve on jury duty, highlighting the fact that the courtroom is not as intimidating as it seems.
“I’ve been a judge for 16 years and I’ve never used a gavel,” Creamer said.
Click here to learn more about Maricopa County’s jury system. here.