By Jill S. Bollwerk
Many people get quite annoyed when they receive a summons for jury duty. They worry about taking time off of work. They worry about who is going to pick up the kids from school. They worry about the parking situation, the travel, etc., etc. But if you have the right to vote in the State of Missouri, then you have the duty to serve as a juror. It may be an inconvenience, but if someday you need access to the courts, don't you want to have 12 jurors who take their job seriously?
As an attorney who tries cases, I see the enormous amount of time and expense that goes into presenting a case to a jury. If jurors fail to follow the rules, they can jeopardize the validity of the jury's verdict. Can you imagine how angry a person's fellow jurors will be when they learn that all of their time spent serving on the jury was wasted because one juror violated the court's rules?
One of the biggest offenses modern jurors commit is sharing their jury experience on social media. The judge will instruct you at the beginning of the case that you are not to talk about the case you are hearing on social media, yet we have all seen the post of one of our fellow "friends" or "followers" who feel the urge to comment on their jury experience. DON'T DO IT--you are violating a judge's order by doing so.
Another no-no in this age of Wikipedia and Google Scholar: don't perform your own research or investigation into any of the issues in the case. The judge will tell you this is forbidden. The parties have the duty to present evidence to you and they have the right to rely on the fact that you are deciding the case solely on the evidence and not on some facts plugged into a website by some unknown person. Believe me--if you are ever a party to a lawsuit or a defendant in a criminal matter, you will hope that the jurors assigned to your case aren't relying on information they found about you on some gossip blog.
For more information about the basics of jury duty, see The Juror's Guide of the State of Missouri. This helpful website will give you general information about jury service.
If you have the right to vote, you have the duty to serve as a juror in a manner that the law requires.