About one-fifth of Californians in the state’s most populous counties fail to respond to a summons for jury service, a no-show figure that affects the composition and quality of juries, according to a study released Tuesday.
The survey illustrated gaps in a legal system that requires citizens to serve when called to jury service and authorizes fines of $250 or more for failure to appear, but leaves enforcement up to county courts. Other studies have shown that jury participation differs depending on race, income and whether employers pay employees who are on jury duty.
“Too many Californians are failing to participate when called to serve on a jury, and it is harming our system of justice,” said the report by California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, a business-backed organization that works to restrict lawsuits.
Based on information obtained from 14 counties under the Public Records Act, the study said, the highest failure-to-appear rates in 2014 were posted by several Southern California counties. Ventura County topped the list with more than 45 percent of its citizens failing to appear. It was followed by San Diego County with 31 percent and Los Angeles County with nearly 30 percent. The lowest was San Joaquin County with 3.9 percent.
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