Robert Tharp, Dallas Morning News, June 27
Skipping jury duty in Dallas County is about to get a lot harder.
A felony judge dismissed a pool of potential jurors Monday after attorneys protested that the five dozen people who showed up did not include enough Hispanics. Courthouse authorities later promised a crackdown on those who disregard their jury summonses.
On Wednesday, those who don’t report for jury duty will get a visit from a sheriff’s deputy and an order to appear before District Judge Karen Greene.
“We’re going to have them come down and explain why they didn’t show up,” Judge Greene said, adding that those who don’t could face contempt-of-court charges and a fine of up to $1,000.
Anthony Miller, a lawyer with Vinson & Elkins, said his firm’s research found that many Hispanics, in particular, can’t afford to take time away from their jobs to serve on a jury.
Jesse Diaz, Dallas chapter president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, agreed.
“It’s economics,” he said. “Most of them are hard-working people — they don’t have time to sit on the jury.”