Does Palin really have jury duty?

Palin: Flailin' Failin' and probably bailin'!

Does Palin really have jury duty? Damned if I know. But if she’s telling the truth about jury duty, she’s also telling the truth about how long her schedule is affected by it: 30 days at minimum.

Palin claims she has jury duty.  As she wrote on her Facebook page about postponing the remainder of her Lower 48 bus tour,

The coming weeks are tight because civic duty calls (like most everyone else, even former governors get called up for jury duty) and I look forward to doing my part just like every other Alaskan.

Does she really have jury duty?  Damned if I know.  As anyone paying attention is aware, she’s been known to lie before.

But if she does….

Damn. As sick & tired as I am of Palin — as much as I have always thought it was a bad idea to ever let her anywhere near having any kind of power (or publicity, fergodssake) — I’m just as sick of how legitimate criticism of her gets drowned out by the kneejerk whines & complaints of anti-Palinites who are at times just as fact-challenged as she is.

Example: a reader called skippyflipjack commenting at Talking Points Memo:

It’s amazing that this prevaricator calls out the media for making things up.  Jury duty for most people takes a couple hours.  You go in (or call a phone number, in some states) and most of the time they say thanks, we don’t need you.  If they do need you you’re still more likely to be rejected by the attorney on one side or the other.  The idea that a jury summons will affect “the coming weeks” is sheer nonsense.  Absolute malarkey.  What a dishonest person.

Do some fact-checking first, skippyflipjack. Whatever the jury procedures might be in your state or locality, jury service in Alaska is governed by the rules set by the Alaska Court System.

And so here we have it from the Trial Jury Handbook of the Alaska Court System, available online for the convenience of anyone who chooses to find out the facts before waxing ill-informed in the nearest political blog’s comment section:

How long must I serve?

The time period during which you must be available to serve (called your “term of service”) depends on the size of the court location where you serve. During your term of service you may have to call in or report to court periodically. You may not have to call in every day, but you must call on the days you are directed to do so.

In Anchorage, where the population is large and many trials are held each day, the term of service is either 5 consecutive days or, if you are selected to serve on a jury, the length of the trial.

In other courts, your term of service is either 30 days, 90 days or 1 year depending on the population of the area. In these courts, you may have to call in several days each month, and you may be selected to serve on more than one trial. The most days you might actually have to be present in court is 30 per year. However, you must complete any trial for which you are selected to serve as a juror regardless of how long the trial lasts.

I’ve only ever served in Anchorage, so my term of service has never been for longer than five days. (I’ve never been selected to actually sit on a jury, or it would have been longer.)  Palin would be more likely to serve in Palmer — about 15 miles from her home in Wasilla — where the Alaska Court System has both Superior and District courts.

So if she’s telling the truth about having jury duty, she’s also telling the truth about about how long her schedule is affected by it: 30 days at minimum.

Here’s how it works:

  1. We’re informed several weeks in advance by mail that we have jury service and when our service is scheduled.
  2. During our week (in Anchorage) or longer period (elsewhere) of jury service, we must call the jury clerk’s recording every night from Sunday to Thursday to find out it we’re supposed to report. If our jury service number isn’t called, we can spend the next day going to our regular jobs or whatever. If our number is called, we have to go to the courthouse the next day and report.
  3. When we go to the courthouse, we may or may not get called into a courtroom for a trial we might be on the jury for. Once in the court room, we may or may not be called to the jury box to be questioned by attorneys. We can only leave the courthouse if we are officially told to do so by the jury clerk.
  4. If we are not selected for a jury, we still have to make calls for the rest of of our period of service until our service is over.

So, no, it’s not just a matter of flying in, saying your piece, and flying out again — as at least one commenter on Talking Points Memo has insisted Palin could do.  There are 30 days at least that she needs to be close enough to get to Palmer the following morning to report in person at the courthouse, whether or not her number is ever called.

But couldn’t she get out of jury duty? As Gryphen wrote yesterday at Immoral Minority,

She quit postponed the bus tour because she had JURY DUTY?

Seriously?  THAT is her excuse?

Which begs the question, does anybody really want a potential leader of this country who can’t even manage to get out of jury duty?

I have a hard time with that one, Gryphen: are you really suggesting that Palin should evade her civic duty?  As she already did, of course, by taking the oath of office as Alaska’s governor & then quitting with her job half undone — for which you have deservedly raked her over the coals.  But I’m pretty sure you’d rake her over the coals for using her influence or whatever to avoid jury service, too.

But she could have postponed her service. Here’s what the Trial Court Handbook says about that:

Can I postpone my jury service?

If jury service at the time for which you are summoned will cause hardship, you may request deferral of service to another time within the next ten months.  If you need to seek a deferral, you should do so as soon as possible.  Do not wait until the time you are to appear.  To reschedule your jury service, follow the instructions for question #12 on the Jury Questionnaire.  If you have already sent in your questionnaire, call the jury clerk as soon as possible for instructions.

Based on that, I think it’s possible the jury clerk might grant a postponement for her “family vacation” bus tour; & almost certainly for the trip (now canceled “for scheduling reasons”) with Franklin Graham to the Sudan — had she really wanted to go.  I guess she didn’t wanna.

Then there’s the question of whether it’d be a good idea to have her on a jury. Commenter bluestatedon at Talking Points Memo:

I cannot believe that any prosecuting attorney would agree to her being on a jury, seeing as how much of a circus that would create. It would be a complete distraction from the business at hand.

Agreed.  I can’t believe any attorney at all would want her on their jury, when it comes down to it: not for ideological reasons, necessarily, but just because of the distraction factor.

But if she was called for jury duty, she’s still required to to her service, or risk contempt of court and its possible consequences.

Jury duty doesn’t mean she’ll actually end up on a jury. I’ve have jury service at least 5 times in Alaska, and have never been actually seated on a jury.  (I came damn close last time, but attorneys always seem to dislike seating jurors who work in justice-related fields, like staff at the UAA Justice Center.)

It comes down to this: the Alaska Court System expects people called for duty to do their duty, no matter who they are.  The jury clerk doesn’t let someone out of it just because she’s famous, or because the jury clerk presumes to know how attorneys in a case might feel about a given potential juror.

So get a little more nuanced in your criticism, folks. Don’t just jump on the bashing bandwagon because you want to bash. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to criticize Palin and to want her far far far away from the seats of government without coming off sounding just as reality challenged as she is.

But can we at least know for sure if she has jury duty? At Talking Points Memo, several_ asks,

Have any “journalists” or bloggers bothered contacting the courts in Wasilla to ask them to confirm or deny whether she’s been called for jury duty or is everyone just taking her word for because of her solid relationship with the truth in the past? (<– sarcasm) Lists of those called for jury duty is public information isn’t it? Isn’t that how employers verify whether employees are telling the truth or just taking an unpaid vacation?

Well, first of all, there are no “courts in Wasilla.”  Alaska has no “county courts”: we have a unified court system called the Alaska Court System. The nearest courts to Palin’s Wasilla home are the Palmer District Court and Palmer Superior Court in Palmer.

Second, best I can tell, the Alaska Court System does not publish lists of people called for jury duty.  It does have a procedure for verifying a juror’s service for employers:

What if my employer wants proof of my jury service?

Ask the jury clerk for a Certificate of Jury Attendance either at the end of each day of trial or at the completion of the trial.  The certificate will indicate the dates and times you served.

But unless some investigative reporters or other can get Palin to wave her jury summons or questionnaire in front of their faces, we might never know for certain if she really has jury duty.

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23 Responses to Does Palin really have jury duty?

  1. ak mom says:

    Get real, she can just get a jury duty deferral by contacting the court in Alaska. Like many have done – including me. It’s not hard.

    Palin is full of beans.

    • crystalwolfakacaligrl says:

      Funny…she can get charges dismissed for her kids Vandalism (Track & Willow) and yet can’t delay her jury duty? I smell a rat. Of course with Palin and how Alaska has not keep her accountable except for a few: Kim Chatman & Andree Mcleod I’m not surprised. Its another “Quitter” excuse.

  2. Mel Green says:

    ak mom, if you actually read the blog post, you would see that I talk about whether she could have postponed her jury service. Please read the post before giving me that get real business.

  3. jenny says:

    So true! And, as an Alaska citizen there is the dreaded grand jury duty in Anchorage that can really take up a lot of time! Or, a local grand jury obligation which usually requires a once-weekly attendance. People from other more populated states maybe don’t understand the situation in Alaska. There are so few of us!

    I also cringed when Gryphen poo-pooed our civic duty. Although, in my small town jury duty can truly be a noose sometimes as everybody complains they were “just called.” In my household everyone who is eligible seems to get called at least once every two years, if not more.

    When I find bright, intelligent people like Gryphen avoiding jury duty it is worrisome. I sure would want a competent and engaged jury judging me if I had to go in front of the bench.

  4. Mel Green says:

    Jenny, to be fair, I don’t know that Gryphen himself has ever avoided jury duty. But he certainly implied that a person of influence should be able to get out from jury service & would be a no good as a leader if s/he couldn’t.

    I get called nowadays every second or third year. I don’t expect ever to get seated on an actual jury, just because — as I said in the post — attorneys don’t seem to like seating jurors who are in justice-related fields. Last September, closest I’ve ever gotten to being on a jury, they booted me right out as soon as they heard I’d worked 20 years at the UAA Justice Center. They also booted the wife of an AFT guy & another person in a justice-related job.

    • Elizabeth says:

      In Washington State, they aren’t really fond of School Psychologists either, but I show up. Now I’m retired maybe they’ll think I’m harmless.

  5. AFM says:

    Don’t lawyers question jurors before they will except them? I sure wouldn’t want her on my jury because she would be a distraction.

    • Mel Green says:

      AFM — read the blog post & you’ll see that I also talk about that question.

      How many people who comment on stories like this actually read the story before commenting?

      (I’m very irritable today… obviously.)

  6. jenny says:

    So true, Mel, I should have been less hard on Gryphen. You didn’t say he avoided jury duty and I guess I did imply this in my poorly worded post.

  7. Linda says:

    I agree w/ all you wrote. I’m an attorney in Ohio and what you said is all valid. In fact, I called Gryph on his comment yesterday (as did quite a few others) and he amended his post to take out that offensive sentence about not being smart enough to get out of jury duty! Even as an attorney I’ve been called to serve. Never chosen for a jury and I figured I would not be, but it is important for intelligent people to show up and do their duty. Which maybe is why Palin really doesn’t need to show (LOL). I agree she’ll never be chosen — unless an attorney thinks having a 3 ring circus will help his/her client’s case.

    • Mel Green says:

      Thanks for your reply, Linda. But Gryphen hasn’t amended his post all that much, apparently — as of this writing, it still says exactly what I quoted in my post.

  8. Dis Gusted says:

    so think of it in Palin -ese – jury duty means she has to be in court……..

    When was the Shawn Christy sexting case scheduled for? Remember that one? Palin et al encouraged him to write threatening letters to the Obama administration. He claims he thought he was having a phone affair with Sarah Palin. Palin reportedly claimed Willow was using her phone. THEN, it turned into a sexual harassment case – SP got a restraining order against the 19 year old boy. that case was scheduled for June 2011. Is SP the JUDGE and the JURY? ROFL

    • Mel Green says:

      Dis Gusted — here is yet another comment that betrays no evidence that you read the post before commenting.

      I.e., jury duty doesn’t mean that Palin has to be in court unless her jury number is called during her time of jury service, in which case she will have no need to report to the courthouse — much less the courtroom — in person. In the five times I’ve done jury service in Alaska, I’ve gone to the courthouse only three times, had to enter a courtroom twice, sat in the jury box once, and actually got seated on a jury no times.

      As for Shawn Christy — sorry, haven’t followed that case. Got other things to do with my life.

  9. deebee says:

    I am soo hoping $arah has “jury duty”,
    in front of it not on it.

  10. Ruth says:

    Has Sarah Palin actually said she has jury duty? I mean really, all she said is ‘like most everyone else, even former governors get called up for jury duty.’ Yes, and even former governors get bad hair cuts, break their legs, fill in whatever part of everyday life you like. She’s not actually saying she has jury duty, just that every now and then former governors get called. Just like she never says she actually gave birth to Trig. Just that he’s her son or she’s his mother, which would be true if she was raising someone else’s child for any reason.

    • Mel Green says:

      Even if she didn’t say outright, “I have jury service,” to imply so broadly as she did is tantamount to a lie — unless she does have jury service. But it’s a big fat waste of time to try to get her to show proof. So might as well learn to be accept that it may never be known for sure.

  11. Celia Harrison says:

    Thanks for this great post Mel, it is very likely she has just confabulated this jury story. And if so, this is the most pitiful excuse she has ever made. The staff in the court system can’t disclose the information to prove or disprove the claim. Palin could easily prove her call for jury duty by posting the notification on line. After over 20 years of having my employers, not me respond to my jury notificiations with letters that they could not run their ICUs without me and being excused every time without lifing a finger, even if I wanted to serve on a jury I know it is easy to postpone. They know people have plans and jobs, they just care if you ignore the notice and don’t make arrangements to change the time to serve.

    • Mel Green says:

      Hey Celia, thanks for reading (& writing). Gotta say, though: frankly, I don’t care if she confabulated this story. We already know she tells lies. The reason I wrote this post is because I’m irritated at those anti-Palin critics who can’t get their facts right any more than she does. As I wrote in my Facebook status when I linked this posts, “I’m sick of her as the next one. But if you’re gonna whine about her, at least whine based on facts, instead of knee-jerk bashing that is as reality-challenged as anything she’s been known to say.” I find Palin-obsession as annoying & often ugly on the “hate Palin” side as it is on the “idolize Palin” side. Intelligent criticism based on facts, on the other hand: love it.

  12. Alaska Pi says:

    Thanks Mel.
    Good job.

  13. Alaska Pi says:

    Dumb question- why does it matter why that she put off/ stopped/quit that silly bus tour?
    It’s just nice to get a break from the endless coverage of it…

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