January 2012 – I’ll never forget the first time that I was summoned to Jury Duty. I had always wondered about the process and if it would ever happen to me. When Stephen and I got married in the summer of 2005, we settled down in the northern Virginia area for a year. Then we purchased our first home in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, just over the border between West Virginia and Virginia. We lived there for two more years. We were registered to vote. We paid West Virginia taxes. Yet, we were never summoned to jury duty.
Then, we moved to Ecuador in 2008. We rented our home in West Virginia for the three years that we were living there, so we were still registered to vote there and were still considered residents of West Virginia. We had all our mail forwarded to us in Ecuador, but some of our mail took several months to reach us.
During our final year in Ecuador, I received a piece of mail telling me I was being summoned for jury duty. I almost panicked because the letter was over a month late of the day I was supposed to contact them to let them know if I was unable to attend. I called them and was able to straighten things out without any problems.
So, let’s fast forward a few months. Stephen and I had just moved with our kids to our new home in Lake Jackson, Texas. We got our new Texas driver’s licenses and registered to vote at the same time. About a month later, I was summoned for jury duty once again. However, this time, I was able to respond in a timely fashion by making myself exempt from duty due to the fact that I was the sole caregiver of three children under school age. It was a little disappointing, because I would have liked to have that experience. Perhaps I will be given the chance again in future years when the kids are all in school.
Anyway, the story doesn’t end there. A few months after I made myself exempt from jury duty, Stephen was summoned, as well. So, he was able to attend his first summons, in the city courthouse of Angleton, which is about 10 minutes outside of Lake Jackson.
This was when we were able to discover that simply because you are summoned for jury duty doesn’t mean you will be assigned jury duty. A large group of people are summoned and then a smaller group is selected from them to serve duty. Stephen traveled out to Angleton twice before he was eliminated from the group. So, his experience with the judicial system was short lived. However, now he can say that has been summoned for jury duty at least once in his life.