Michigan, like most places in America, has a compulsory jury service requirement. Michigan law also requires people who are summoned for jury service to appear, upon penalty of contempt. (MCL 600.1346)
But the Governor of Michigan may soon change that after he signs House Bill No. 4570, which has already been passed by the Michigan House and Senate.
This new bill, introduced by the Michigan House, allows a student to postpone their jury service requirement. Here is the language of the amendment:
(3) THE CHIEF JUDGE OF THE COURT TO WHICH A PERSON IS RETURNED AS A JUROR SHALL, UPON REQUEST, POSTPONE THE PERSON’S TERM OF SERVICE UNTIL THE END OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR IF THE PERSON IS A FULL-TIME STUDENT ENROLLED IN AND ATTENDING A COLLEGE, COMMUNITY COLLEGE, OR UNIVERSITY AND THE PERSON PROVIDES SATISFACTORY PROOF THAT THE TERM OF SERVICE WILL LIKELY INTERFERE WITH HIS OR HER CLASS SCHEDULE.
This bill is of course welcome news by many students who might otherwise suffer academic hardship if required to serve at the expense of their academic schedule. Note however, that this new law will only delay a jury service requirement until the academic year is over.
Whether you hope to serve or despise the summons, you probably know that juries are a big part of our nation’s legal heritage. Entire books could be written on jury duty. But for those who are students, I’ll just leave this post with a few references related to juries and the law:
The Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury. . . .”
Also the Seventh Amendment: “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
The Supreme Court has also held that the First Amendment allows a person to observe a jury selection. Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court of California (The Press Enterprise requested that the voir dire, the process of questioning the jury, be open to the public and press.)
Update: Governor Snyder signed HB4570, and the Act is immediately effective as of Feb. 18th, 2014.