Skipping Jury Duty in Las Vegas? What Happens if I Ignore a Summons?
It is against the law in Nevada to ignore a jury summons. Nevada Revised Statute 6.040 expressly forbids any eligible citizen in Nevada from disregarding a jury summons and the issuing Court may well further summon that individual by directing to them an “Order to Show Cause.” For instance, if you oversleep and miss your jury service, the Court may send you this Order and you will be required to come to Court and give your reasons for failing to attend. If the judge is satisfied with your mea culpa, then no harm no foul. However, what if the judge is not persuaded? What’s the worst that can happen? Am I getting hauled off in cuffs you may ask?
Luckily, in Nevada, you are not likely going to jail (although you could) for sleeping through your jury summons and failing to appear, but you may be relieved of some of your money. A judge can legally order a “missing” juror to pay up to $500—or spend three days in jail—but it would take a real charmer to make an elected judge send an absentee juror to jail. Simply put, that is bad for business when your business is getting reelected.
What is Voir Dire? Will I Be Interrogated? What Will They Ask Me?
The basic premise of voir dire is to allow the lawyers representing the parties in the case to probe the venire and gather information about the prospective/potential jurors to ensure that they choose persons who will ensure a fair and impartial panel for their client. While potential jurors are not interrogated, many people that do not speak publicly for a living find the process uncomfortable, and some are downright terrified. Whether it be shyness, facility with English, lack of familiarity with some courtroom terminology, or a myriad of other reasons, folks generally do not enjoy the fishbowl atmosphere that voir dire seems to invite. While the questions are usually brief, many folks volunteer more than just the answer that was sought—and thereby make themselves easy “targets” for additional questions.
While practices in different courthouses (Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, etc.) may vary, the basics of the process are pretty consistent. Most, if not all judges, do some so-called general voir dire to start. This is akin to getting acquainted on the first day of the school, the judge, like the teacher, will often go around the room and address at least the first thirty or so panel members. Each potential juror will be asked to provide their name, education level, employment status, number of children, and length of residency in Clark County, Nevada, for instance. Other general questions which may be asked involve military service, law enforcement experience, whether or not the individual has been a victim or perpetrator of a crime (or otherwise interacted with DA, LVMPD, etc.). Essentially, can you, as a potential juror, be fair and impartial or are the confluence of experiences you have had likely to have made you preferred by one side or the other? If so, you’ll likely be stricken by the side that might not benefit from the menagerie of experiences you’ve had.
How Do I Make Myself an Unattractive Juror?
The stronger opinions you have, the more likely one side (or the other) will find something you say objectionable. If there is an outright belief that one cannot be fair—or cannot judge other folks as in some faiths, then this should be stated. It may be tested, as the parties, or even the judge, may find your strength of belief to really just be a ruse calculated to relieve oneself of an important civic duty. But if you feel very strongly and can withstand a little probing, you just may find the exit ramp without much difficulty.
Of course, there is at least one other way to ensure you get excused from the venire. If you demonstrate an almost eerie eagerness to be on the jury, many lawyers will find this perplexing and the unknown presents dangers that may be unseen. If a potential juror seems excited for jury duty it is abnormal to the point of raising red flags. The belief, most often unspoken, is that anyone that wants on a jury that bad has skin in the game, a horse in the race, or in layman’s terms, likely is not all that impartial at all. This is one sure way to put a spotlight on yourself while in the jury box and enduring voir dire. Nobody wants, to quote John Grisham, a “Runaway Juror”.
How Much Does Jury Duty Pay in Nevada?
The short answer is—not much at all! The good news is that in Nevada, as in every state in the Union that I have ever heard of, an employer is not permitted to penalize an employee for performing their civic duty—and missing work as a result. So not only do you get paid your ordinary rate or salary—after the first two days you will make, drumroll please…$40/day going forward. So, I guess the takeaway is, keep your day jobs!
As for mileage reimbursement, the general answer is no, save for some exceptional circumstances. Potential jurors over 65 required to drive more than 65 miles one way will be compensated for gas mileage—nobody else. As you might have gathered, the answer then for the vast majority of potential jurors is “no mileage reimbursement”. Nobody ever said performing your vital civic duty would be lucrative.
At What Age Are You Exempt from Jury Duty?
In Nevada, there is no upper limit for jury service. This means that from the age of 18 onward, until you leave this mortal coil, you are on the hook for potential jury duty as a Nevadan. There are some caveats to this, of course, and that is where all the action is. As I just explained above, after you turn 65, performing your civic duty comes with some additional perks—if you drive a long distance the State of Nevada will reimburse you, for instance. Further, once you attain the age of 75, a Nevadan can request to be relieved from the obligation due to almost any reason—and will likely find a receptive ear on the bench no matter whose Court they may be in.
How Often Can I Be Issued a Jury Summons? If I am Not Chosen Do I Still Move to the “End of the Line”?
While there are slight variations throughout the State of Nevada, owing to the vastly disparate sizes of counties and their respective populations, the general rule of thumb is that if you are called to the Court as a member of a venire you will likely be relieved of the privilege for a period of 12-24 months. In Washoe County, up north, you will not be called to jury service for two years after being part of a venire (you need not be chosen for a trial or anything—just answer the call and report). In Clark County, where the large population centers of Henderson, Las Vegas, and North Las Vegas all lie, as well as Laughlin, the turnaround time will be 18 months. At any rate, you likely won’t be called to jury service more than a handful of times in your adult life—and if you were called that many times, you will have lived a long life and been given a seemingly “lucky” number. At almost forty, I haven’t been called once—neither has my partner.
Yampolsky & Margolis Criminal Defense Las Vegas are experienced criminal defense attorneys in Las Vegas. We offer free initial consultations to help you! Give us a call at (702) 385-9777.