Failure to Appear

Chinatown bus link of the day: the Bus Mafia

Once upon a time I lived in Western Massachusetts. Then I moved to another state, got a non-Mass license, and registered to vote. The next year I moved to a third state. The next year I moved to a fourth state. Sometime between the third and fourth states, I was called up for jury duty in Northampton, Mass. I failed to appear, partly because I didn’t get the notice until after my date, and partly because I wasn’t a resident of Massachusetts and therefore had no right, never mind duty, to serve on local juries.

Now that’s par for the course in Massachusetts. But this time, this time the Jury Commissioner went too far.

It all began three and a half years ago, when I was once again living in Massachusetts (the fifth state), after having been away for seven or eight years. I was called up for jury duty in Chelsea. Though I didn’t even know where Chelsea was, I checked with the MBTA and took the day off work (unpaid) in order to do my annoying civic duty. The reminder postcard said I was on stand-by status and to call a number beforehand to check whether I should report on my assigned day. I called the number; the recording told me not to come in.

Yesterday I got a delinquency notice for failing to appear in Chelsea three and a half years ago when they told me not to appear, complete with threats of a criminal complaint against me if I didn’t make it up to them by rescheduling my jury duty. Of course it’s been over three years and I’ve had jury duty in Roxbury since then, so if showing up for jury dury is enough to clear my record, it ought to be clear.

I called the phone number and a typical state worker answered. Since I’d served since my alleged delinquency, she said I was excused. I said I wasn’t delinquent; that I’d been told not to report. She said they wanted jurors that day, ma’am. Like she remembers whether they wanted jurors in Chelsea on a fall day in 2000! I remember because I was one of the jurors they didn’t want.

Anyway, the Jury Commissioner is going to send me a letter saying that all is forgiven because I cleaned up my act and showed in Roxbury. I’m going to send one back saying that there’s nothing to forgive and I want my record cleared of alleged delinquency in 2000, not to mention that incident in Northampton back in the 90’s.

The moral of this story is: if you’re called up for jury duty in Massachusetts and you don’t feel like going, hang it all and don’t go, because they’re just going to send you a delinquency notice three years later no matter what you do. And you can make it up to them by scheduling new jury duty, possibly retroactively. Why obey the law if you’re going to be treated like a criminal either way? You may as well enjoy the crime if you’re going to do the time.

I’m really starting to hate this state. Maybe I should move back to state #2.

One Response to “Failure to Appear”

  1. Boston Common Says:

    Juror hell
    Jemima is learning to hate this state: … Yesterday I got a delinquency notice for failing to appear in Chelsea three and a half years…